Monday, December 05, 2022

MARIANNE SAYS NO PRIVATIZATION OF MEDICARE, NO CUTS FOR ACTIVE MEMBER HEALTHCARE OR RETIREES SO PRESERVE 12-126

This video sets the record straight on the NYC Organization of Public Sector Retirees and its president, Marianne Pizzitola, being OPPOSED to cutting any NYC retiree or active employee's health benefits. She is trying to preserve our healthcare benefits, not have further healthcare cuts like higher copays. The unions keep agreeing with the City to cut our health benefits, both retirees and active workers. It's gotta stop. 


 

Click here to view Marianne's answer to the interminable UFT's fake truths piece recently put out.

Then, this is one of the simplest of the fliers I have seen on the topic.


The law protects our healthcare and forces the City to pay the full cost of City worker and retiree healthcare up to $918 per month (the HIP-HMO benchmark from Administrative Code 12-126).

If the City Council changes Administrative Code 12-126, the City can make that benchmark rate it has to pay any dollar amount the Municipal Labor Committee (Mulgrew and DC 37 basically) and City agree to. If you think we will get better healthcare by having the City pay way less than we currently are receiving by law, you are a very optimistic individual who is probably a member of Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus and wants to push Mulgrewcare on all of us.

Here is most of what you need to know explained in a very straightforward way on a page that is basically dedicated to debunking UFT and DC 37 lies:



Saturday, December 03, 2022

MARIANNE AGAIN DEBUNKS UFT DISINFORMATION

The giant UFT publicity machine is out there shamelessly trying to fool us with a seven-bullet flier and a different lengthy save-the-code-amend-the-code piece filled with disinformation. Marianne Pizzitola has done another video challenging the UFT claim that the UFT is trying to preserve choice of medical plans so we need to change Administrative Code 12-126. In reality, Michael Mulgrew has been trying to limit choice since 2020 as this new video from Marianne shows. 


Below is part of the letter on the Request for Proposal for the Medicare Advantage Plan for City Medicare-eligible retirees that Marianne refers to in the video. It is from November 18, 2020.

The MLC question is in the middle column. The City answer is on the right. Notice the City answering that they intended to end most options for Medicare-eligible retirees back on November 18, 2020 and the Municipal Labor Committee went with this Request for Proposal. It would have been implemented except it was stopped in court because it violated Administrative Code 12-126 which protects our healthcare.



Michael Mulgrew has been trying to limit choice for retirees who are Medicare eligible since 2020. He is not fighting to change the law that protects our healthcare (Administrative Code 12-126) to preserve choice. That is disinformation. Don't think active UFTers won't be next if Mulgrew gets his way. Preserve 12-126!

SUE EDELMAN ON TALK OUT OF SCHOOL ON THE RADIO AT 1:00 PM; BIDEN-PELOSI SAY NO TO PAID SICK DAYS FOR RAILROAD WORKERS

Anybody who has followed this blog for a while knows we often cite NY Post reporter Sue Edelman's articles exposing all kinds of muck in the NYC schools. She will be on Leonie Haimson and Daniel Alicea's radio program, Talk out of School, today at 1:00 p.m. WBAI is at 99.5 FM, and on your computer

You can listen to the archived podcast here.


Much has been written condemning the Joe Biden Congress settlement of the Railroad workers' dispute because although they received wage increases, they were only able to get one paid sick day out of the settlement and not the seven they wanted. Nancy Pelosi put the paid sick days in a separate bill she knew the Senate would not pass because of Republican opposition to give Democrats cover

Ryan Grim covered this in the Intercept. This is his December 1 piece added to a lengthy article.

Update: December 1, 2022
On Thursday, the Senate voted 52-43 in favor of a measure that would have ensured rail workers were granted seven days of sick leave in a tentative agreement brokered and enforced on the workers and their employers by President Joe Biden. But the measure needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Democrat Joe Manchin voted no on the sick days, while a handful of Republicans — Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, John Kennedy, and Lindsey Graham — voted in favor. 

The rejection of the measure means that Biden’s version of the tentative agreement, which passed the Senate 80-15 shortly afterward, will be imposed on workers after Biden signs the bill, averting a looming strike. The new agreement, which represents a marginal improvement on the tentative agreement rejected by workers in late October, ensures only one new paid day off for workers. The companies had furiously opposed even a single additional day off, as it runs in conflict with their strategy to keep staffing as minimal as humanly possible. 

Over the past three years, railroad executives have taken over $200 million in compensation as workers attempted to force their hand for sick pay during a bargaining process that has stretched on for years. 

The Senate showdown came after progressives in the House successfully demanded a vote on the sick days to accompany approval of the tentative agreement. The strategy was criticized by some on the left, who saw it as selling out workers, arguing instead that the contract should have been amended and sent to the Senate as one piece of legislation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., defended the strategy, saying that unions in her district and nationwide supported the effort to pass additional sick leave in lieu of a viable option to actually sink the proposed tentative agreement. The options available to the unions and to progressives in Congress were extremely limited by the time Biden moved to force the agreement on the workers. The Railway Labor Act allows Congress to enforce collective bargaining agreements in order to avert railway strikes. 

“Tanking wasn’t an option bc of GOP votes,” she wrote on Twitter, “we moved to keep sick leave alive.”

A railway union source said that the next phase of the fight would be a demand that Biden include rail workers in a coming executive order that would mandate 56 hours of paid sick leave for federal contractors. The bipartisan support in the House and Senate for the sick days, even though it fell short of 60, could boost the argument for including such workers in the order.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

NYC RETIREES ORGANIZATION SUES CITY OVER ILLEGAL COPAYS RECENTLY ADDED TO GHI SENIOR CARE

This came in my email box this morning. Marianne's group is in court again challenging copays on GHI Senior Care. While the UFT is looking to impose more cost savings (givebacks) on retirees and active people, this group is fighting back.


Dear Employees & Retirees,
 
Last week, the Appellate Court, First Department found for the retirees, like we thought!   We said all along, we were going to win this case because the law is on our side, and we being retirees were very familiar with the statute and collective bargaining.  

The Court unanimously agreed with the Supreme Court, that the City must pay the full cost of healthcare up to the HIP HMO rate for EVERY EMPLOYEE, RETIREE and their dependents.

We are retired City union labor.   Many of us lobbied these laws, worked in offices where these laws were used over the decades.  We know they protect active and retired labor EQUALLY.  And have for over 55 years.   Its not an "antiquated" or "outdated law."   And this retirees group that fought the City and MLC in this case, did what true labor does; organized, rallied, stood in solidarity, got out the word, hired good lawyers, won the support of some of our former unions, rallied, protested, and we won...every. step. of. the. way.  

The UFT & DC37 has been distributing emails to active or in-service workers and their retirees telling them to call City Council and demand they change the Code.  They don't want you to know you are demanding your own diminishment of healthcare!  

To the in service employees, have you researched the history of Administrative Code 12-126?  Do you  know why it exists and the protections it offers?  Do you know if those protections exists anywhere else and why?  Have you read either Court decision?  Do you know the difference between Traditional Medicare and a managed Medicare advantage plan?  If not, stop!  And learn before you follow your peers "off a bridge" selling off your current and future health benefits.  And tomorrow, thank a retiree for saving your benefits!

The fact is, the Municipal Labor Committee negotiated a bad deal and got themselves in a hole.  And they sold off retirees to pay their debt. You will be retired. Are you okay with having your retiree benefit sold off?  We warned you all last year if this deal was permitted to go through, they were coming after you (active in-service workers) next.    You didn't listen.   And today, they are threatening you with premiums and loss of plans and still blaming the retirees litigation to protect what is rightfully theirs and earned pitting employees against retirees.   

WE ARE UNION!   WE ARE LABOR!  WE ARE RETIREES!   And we will continue to fight to protect ourselves, and you, if we must!  We know the laws we are protected by.   Get on board, before the MLC takes your health plan, and narrows the networks for providers you can see, and imposes so many co pays and prior authorizations, you will think you are in an HMO plan in 1980.   Every time they agree to a $30 co pay, or you can only use a certain urgent care, or a certain radiology or a certain "network" or prevent you from going to a specific hospital, or requires approval for just about every test of procedure you physician wants, that is a GIVE BACK.  They are limiting your access to your own healthcare.  

TODAY, Thank a retiree, because they just saved you.   Now let's hope the MLC chooses to get on the right side of the law and protect us all like they used to! 

COURT DECISION

 

BREAKING NEWS

And because we like a good ONE - TWO Punch....  Tonight we filed another lawsuit against the City over the GHI Senior Care Copays and violating the Judge's order.   
Read/follow that here! 
 

***************************************************************

Yours in TRUE Solidarity, 
The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees
 

DOE HIGH SCHOOL MIDDLE SCHOOL APLICATION SITE CRASHES NIGHT BEFORE DEADLINE

We were trying to fine tune our 13 year old daughter Kara's high school application this evening. It is one day before the application due date. We couldn't get on the myschools site for hours and when we got on, it only put in a school we didn't want.

We spent the time we were waiting looking at Long Island real estate ads. Yes, one of the last believers in NYC public education may have finally had enough.



They did extend the application through December 5 today but this is an insane process.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

MARIANNE PIZZITOLA COMPLETELY EXPOSES UFT ZOOM SHE CALLS "BULLSHIT AND GASLIGHTING SESSION"

I normally don't support when people who are not UFTers crash UFT meetings. However, the outright falsehoods that the UFT leadership is telling concerning healthcare impacts on all City workers, their families, and retirees so it needs to be exposed. 

Marianne Pizzitola, the President of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees was listening to Queens Borough Rep Amy Arundell's latest Zoom session on Monday evening. I could only take so much and was glad to leave to attend another Zoom. Marianne called out lie after lie after misleading statement that Amy and UFT Welfare Fund assistant Joe Ustach were telling in the Zoom meeting.

Everyone needs to watch the video Marianne put up last evening in response to the UFT's very misleading presentation. Amy and Joe are UFT employees so they have no choice but to peddle the company line but at some point we need some truth from the UFT.


Some highlights of Marianne's total takedown of UFTs Amy and Joe

  •  This Queens meeting was dubbed as an information session on why UFTers should work to change Administrative Code 12-126. The meeting is in reality "a bullshit gaslighting session." 
  • Two courts agreed that the Administrative Code protects our healthcare benefits up to the HIP-HMO rate ($918 a month). Why would we want to give up that guaranteed rate? 
  • The UFT found savings by charging us additional copays and narrowing our networks. How is an increased copay a benefit to us? Savings are givebacks. 
  • Ustach's slide says the City is paying $11.8 billion on healthcare this year. Comptroller's documents say the City spent around $8 billion on healthcare in fiscal year 2022. $6.5 billion was spent on active employees. Only $1/2 billion was spent on Medicare part B reimbursements.
  • Joe and Amy's defense of Medicare Advantage Plus (MAP) is more bullshit. The City and MLC tried to force Medicare-eligible City retirees into MAP until a court stopped them because the City was violating the law. 
  • There are no networks of doctors one has to go to in the original government-run Medicare. Doctors don't have to accept Medicare Advantage.  
  • 500 doctors wrote letters saying they would not accept the City's Medicare Advantage Plus plan. 
  • The Medicare Advantage Plus plan the City tried to force retirees into, or subject them to a penalty premium of $192 a month, had 87 prior authorizations where procedures would have to be approved by an insurance company where original Medicare doesn't have prior authorizations. 
  • The Independent Budget Office and Comptroller have stated that the unions and City have used the Health Stabilization Fund as a slush fund.
  • The Municipal Labor Committee and City wanted to put retirees on Medicare Advantage or else force them to pay an illegal $192 a month penalty to stay with what they have now that only pays 20% of doctor's office expenses. The other 80% are paid by the original Medicare. 
  • A judge and 5 appeals judges ruled the penalty premium to stay in Senior Care violated City Administrative Code 12-126.
  • Uniform unions (fire, police and some correction) all voted against changing the Code. 
  • The City Council doesn't want to change the Code because their health benefits are protected by 12-126 just like ours are. 
  • This goes back to 2014 when the UFT Memorandum of Agreement used money from the Stabilization fund to pay for UFT raises.
  • The courts have not limited union collective bargaining rights. City law, the State Taylor Law and the 1992 MLC-NYC letter of agreement all guarantee collective bargaining on healthcare.
  • NYC Organization of Retirees is not a small, vocal group as Amy says. There are around 50,000 of us. 
The ICE blog fact-checked the UFT Contract claim easily and sure enough there it is in the 2014 MOA under H Healthcare Savings:

Stabilization Fund: (1) Effective July 1, 2014, the Stabilization Fund shall convey $1 billion to the City of New York to be used in support of the pro rata funding of this agreement. 

There's more but I suggest you play the video to hear Marianne's passion as opposed to Amy and Joe's clueless attempt to get us to fight against our own interests. 


Marianne fact checks Amy on Twitter:



This story is continually updating and we will provide more information when we get it.

Monday, November 28, 2022

CITY-UFT DOUBLE-DOWN ON LOBBYING CITY COUNCIL AFTER MULGREWCARE IS DEFEATED ON APPEAL

There is plenty of encouraging news in the fight to preserve choices of premium free healthcare for City workers and retirees but the fight is not nearly over.

An appeals court ruled 5-0 that the City cannot charge premiums for GHI Senior Care because the cost of this Medicare supplemental plan does not exceed the HIP-HMO rate. City Administrative Code 12-126 guarantees free healthcare up to that rate for City workers and retirees. Here are excerpts from the decision of the appellate court upholding the original lower court decision that were in a Chief article:

“The court correctly determined that Administrative Code § 12-126 (b) (1) requires respondents to pay the entire cost, up to the statutory cap, of any health insurance plan a retiree selects. ”

Any plan a retiree selects means retirees have a choice of health plans as I read this. 

Furthermore:

"[n]othing in the statutory text or history supports respondents’ interpretation that the provision is satisfied so long as they pay for the costs of one of the health insurance plans offered to retirees, which they have determined to be the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan."

Michael Mulgrew and other city union labor leaders are now trying to double-down on going around the courts by having their rank and file call City Council Members to get the  City Council to vote to change 12-126 so the City can offer a cut rate privatized Medicare Advantage plan (Mulgrewcare) and then make everyone who doesn't want the cut-rate plan have to pay up for something better. This change would likely not just affect retirees but active workers would also probably have to settle for a cut-rate premium-free plan or pay to keep what they have now.

A number of unions see through the Mulgrewcare scam and are urging members to call and tell the City Council not to change 12-126. These enlightened unions want to preserve the guarantees that are a part of city law. These unions come from across the political spectrum.

This came our way from the Retired Lieutenants Association:


Below is part of an email from the President of the Professional Staff Congress, James Davis, who also opposes changing the Code:

"As you know, the PSC was among the few MLC unions that voted against the proposed Administrative Code change, and we continue to oppose it. PSC members have sent nearly 5,000 letters to City Council representatives - send yours today if you have not done so already."

Call your Council Member. Tell them not to change 12-126. 

Full disclosure, I am a proud PSC member as well as being a member of the UFT and my brother is a member of the NYPD Captain's Endowment Association who also oppose changing 12-126. We differ on a number of issues but as City retirees, my brother and I agree on preserving 12-126. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

MULGREWCARE LOSES IN COURT AGAIN; THE FIGHT CONTINUES IN THE CITY COUNCIL

 Just got the news the appeal decision is out.

Here is a link to EdNotes.  

The statement from Marianne:

Today, the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees won their case in the First Department NY Appellate Court.   The Court was very clear Code § 12-126 (b) (1) provides: “The city will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.”

The court correctly determined that Administrative Code § 12-126 (b) (1) requires respondents to pay the entire cost, up to the statutory cap, of any health insurance plan a retiree selects.

The Retirees applaud the decision.

Marianne Pizzitola

President

NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees


We need to keep up the fight because the UFT leadership is doubling down on its misinformation/disinformation campaign with the City Council.

Monday, November 21, 2022

UNITY IGNORES LOGICAL ARGUMENT CALLING FOR THE UFT TO REVERSE COURSE ON CHANGING ADMINISTRATIVE CODE ON HEALTHCARE

The Executive Board was in-person only tonight but not Executive session. I did not attend. 

However, reports are filtering out that the 7 opposition high school representatives introduced resolutions on standing up to abusive administrators and for the UFT to reverse course and oppose changing City Administrative Code 12-126 to protect healthcare for active and retired UFTers.

Unity naturally voted against the resolution on standing up to abusive administrators. 

Unity also voted down opposition's resolution to keep Administrative Code 12-126 to preserve our healthcare.

You can read a full report on tonight's meeting from New Action's Nick Bacon, a High School Exec Bd member.

Aviation High School Chapter Leader Ibeth Mejia has allowed us to print in full her argument in support of the healthcare resolution.


Ibeth Mejia, Aviation HS, High School Executive Board:

I support the UFT changing course to come out in opposition to amending Administrative Code 12-126.  Most retirees do not want to be forced into a privatized Medicare Advantage plan where some health insurance company can get even richer on our backs. Strong unions like the UFT should be taking on these insurance giants. 12-126 gives us a nice benchmark plan with the HIP-HMO rate. Leave it alone and find savings elsewhere. The Taylor Law protects healthcare collective bargaining rights. It is a mandatory subject of bargaining.The moratorium clause is part of a state law that protects school district retirees in NY. I am not a lawyer but I like our chances if the City or Arbitrator Sheinman try to impose something unpopular on our retirees or active people. Privatized Medicare is unpopular. This is from Workbites.

Council Member Joann Ariola (R-Queens) told Work-Bites she had fielded thousands of queries from constituents on the Medicare Advantage controversy and that it was running 10 to 1 against making the change in the Administrative Code sought by Mayor Adams and the MLC leadership.

Brooklyn Council Member Charles Barron, (D-Brooklyn) said he was “100 percent with the retirees…because I think they have to keep the commitment they have because it’s beneficial for those who paid their dues and I think the Medicare Advantage approach is privatizing."

"Healthcare costs are out of control,” said Council Member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). "I have been lobbied by both sides but at this point, I am supportive of the retirees.”

That is a Republican, a left wing Democrat and a more  moderate Democrat I just cited.

Now I would like to cite a past UFT President: the legendary AL Shanker. He said the Union should avoid splitter issues. By seeing what the Council Members are saying, this is clearly a splitter issue. It is the MLC leaderships and their supporters against the rank and file retirees.

Change course. Let's play this out. If the MLC leadership gets a bill in front of the Council, there have to be public hearings. I can pretty much guarantee the MLC leadership will be standing against 9-11 survivors and heroes who will be at the Council en masse to oppose this change to 12-126 that will force them into privatized Medicare. Please don't do it. There is no MLC consensus on revising 12-126. Most of the uniform unions who are quite popular oppose changing 12-126 and they blame the UFT for leading this battle. Don't split the labor movement and don't try to balance the City books on the backs of retirees by privatizing their healthcare. We need to buy time until we can work for a national single payer system like every developed nation on earth has except for the USA. 

I suggest putting together a blue ribbon panel as has been proposed. Find other ways to save money with new audits and other savings but please leave the 12-126 as it is and support this resolution.