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CAVEAT UFT MEMBERS: Before voting on this new tentative contract be sure to ask this question about the new healthcare givebacks.
What UFT leadership won’t share in their promo slides, ‘yes’ vote campaign and the current MOA has implications for your, and your family’s, healthcare. You deserve a straight answer.
It’s a BIG question that you as a UFT member need to ask before voting on our proposed tentative contract (MOA). And you deserve a straight answer.
Before you vote, ask your union rep: Will we see the new healthcare plan that will replace Emblem Health/GHI - BEFORE OR AFTER WE RATIFY?
Healthcare and Our Pay Raises Are INEXTRICABLY LINKED. Not Separate.
We knew this from Day 1. From the inception of these 2022-23 contract negotiations, at 52 Broadway UFT headquarters, the 500-member negotiation committee heard with their own ears that the City would need over a billion more dollars in healthcare savings on top of our existing healthcare cost savings debt.
Here is an excerpt from the New York Teacher, our union magazine, that seeks to obfuscate somewhat by deflecting sole responsibility to the MLC, but it still clearly tells us that the city demanded, in no uncertain terms, that major healthcare cost savings are a pre-requisite before our pay raises could be finalized.
“But specific contract agreements might require a certain amount of health care savings, since there is a finite pot of money for employee pay and benefits as a whole. City officials told the UFT at the first bargaining session that before pay raises could be finalized, the city and the unions would need to be on the path to a health care agreement that offers major savings.
Note there is no pushback to the City’s demand but rather a matter-of-fact explanation.
But specific contract agreements might require a certain amount of health care savings, since there is a finite pot of money for employee pay and benefits as a whole.
This is important to know at this moment of decision, even as we reel from significant diminishment of our healthcare benefits with sky-rocketing, runaway co-pays and our city retirees forced into inferior privatized managed care because we also know union leadership conceded to major HEALTHCARE GIVEBACKS in our 2014 and 2018 contracts.
The 2014 Healthcare Savings Giveback
City unions unwisely and wrongly dipped into the Healthcare Stabilization fund that is designed to offset healthcare inflation to pay for retro raises in the 2014 contract to the tune of $1 billion dollars. It also promised millions more in healthcare “cost savings”.
Michael Mulgrew, UFT President, was at the center of this 2014 contract deal which he brokered unilaterally by his own admission prior to seeking final Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) approval.
Watch and hear the 2014 press conference for yourself with, Mulgrew, former mayor Bill De Blasio, and former Commissioner of the Office of Labor Relations, Robert Linn, where this admission is made.
In this transcript quote, Linn thanks Mulgrew for his major role in this healthcare savings for retro raises giveback.
The 2018 Healthcare Savings Giveback
In our 2018 collective bargaining contract deal, Mulgrew and the MLC promised $600 million dollars a year to the city in guaranteed healthcare “cost savings”, indefinitely, which now is forcing all city retirees into an inferior, privatized Medicare Advantage plan and is also behind the higher co-pays, fewer providers taking our insurance in many instances, and your current coverage being whittled away.
This is a “debt to which Mulgrew committed us without our informed consent in the 2018 contract”, Nick Bacon, UFT executive board member, explains.
UFT leadership failed to fully disclose the giveback when we voted to ratify in 2018. (See the Appendix B side letter that is still in effect, today. We owe this IN PERPETUITY, unless modified in the future.)
James Eterno, of ICE UFT, helped uncover this clandestine deal in 2018 that the union also failed to share with its chapter leaders and delegates when they voted to recommend the 2018 UFT contract. He also exposed that the healthcare cost savings owed may be even more that $600 million per year.
$1.7 billion is the savings for the city from the MLC agreement that the Chief Leader reported through the end of the contract and then the city saves another $600 million annually thereafter. The UFT spin that it is $1.1 billion is technically not correct because they are not adding in the recurring $600 million savings for 2022 which is the year the contract ends. If we add in the recurring yearly $1.3 billion in savings from the 2014-18 MLC deal with the city, we will be saving NYC on a recurring basis $1.9 billion annually forever. In return, we get a bigger contribution to our Welfare Funds and money from the savings is used to self fund some of our meager raises.
What is the 2023 Healthcare Giveback?
As current city labor contracts are being re-negotiated and ratified presently, the city unions in the MLC are finalizing a new healthcare plan for all active city workers that will replace the premium-free option most city workers have — Emblem/GHI. They refuse to fully disclose specific details to their dues-paying members.
We certainly know that the City management bureaucratic machine, with its greedy, insatiable appetite and wasteful spending, still wants more in healthcare cost savings in exchange for sub-inflation raises, while they have a complicit and willing partner in Michael Mulgrew.
Cheaper is not BETTER.
So when does the new cut-rate healthcare plan/other shoe drop on us?
What does the new plan look like? Is it no-frills? Are there premiums? Is it a managed care network like Medicare Advantage and HIP?
Ask those we have entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility to conduct our union matters these requisite healthcare questions before you vote to ratify.
Demand straight and specific answers.
Our leadership deflecting and shifting blame to this essential part of our overall compensation on the MLC only, when the UFT is the dominant force in the MLC, is them giving us the runaround when we are trying to make an informed decision about the value of this new proposed contract.
Hold Mulgrew’s Unity leadership caucus accountable for the sub-inflation pay raises offered in this tentative contract in exchange for diminishing your and your family’s healthcare. That’s a DOUBLE PAYCUT to our compensation—with life and death consequences!
They must be stopped and replaced.
Contract sweeteners designed to entice us to ratify right away pale to what healthcare means to us and our loved ones.
Finally, insist on the Big 5 Demands, also. Anything less means - WE MUST VOTE NO!
Be sure to sign the UFT healthcare referendum petition that demands premium-free quality healthcare, and that moving forward all significant changes to our healthcare be voted on by all members and fully disclosed to us all.
We deserve better. Or move over.
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