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Important Contract Update: Another City union has a Deal!
Important changes to retiree healthcare and possibly for us, too. More details below.
The leadership of DC37 union that represents school aides, parent coordinators, cafeteria workers among many other thousands of city workers have a tentative agreement for a contract that all their members will vote on to approve or not. They are voting on 3% raise per year for 4 years and 3.25% the last year for a total five-year contract including $3,000 one-time payment for signing the contract and retro pay for the months they were without a contract.
That means about 16.5% total raise compounded over a five- and half-year contract.
Social security recipients have received about the same raise over the last two years to keep up with inflation. If ratified this would set the pattern below inflation rates. UFT members and all unionized city workers will most likely be offered the same percentages.
Many UFT members, including some of us on our contract negotiations committee, are really concerned that we don’t know the deal on healthcare for active members. Right now, most of us have premium free Emblem GHI PPO and Empire for hospitals. The PPO allows us to choose our doctors and not have to get referrals to visit a specialist. It is difficult to vote on a contract without understanding what changes are coming to our healthcare. We know several insurance companies put in bids to be our healthcare provider, but we don’t know what this will mean for the quality of our healthcare, choices of doctors, and out of pocket costs of our healthcare (co-pays, deductibles etc). All of the leaders of the city workers unions from sanitation to police to firefighters and DC37 negotiate healthcare together as part of the municipal labor committee.
This tentative contract agreement was announced and then soon after it was leaked to the media that retirees from the city’s union will be moved to Medicare Advantage Plan. This will be a managed health care plan (similar to an HMO) run by a private insurance company, probably Aetna, rather than the public run healthcare they have now. Many UFT retirees have already fought this in court, city council hearings and within our own union. They have succeeded in stopping it temporarily and will fight this change again. Our union leadership has strongly contended that Medicare Advantage will be the same quality healthcare and doctors that our retirees have now. The City and Unions argue healthcare costs are spiraling out of control and savings are necessary. Our union has repeatedly claimed they would not agree to any changes to retiree healthcare that would result in any reduced services. The city and union have both said this change would result in savings without loss of quality.
I see both sides here, but anytime someone says to me you can have what you have now for less, I question it.
DC37 is tremendously underpaid and this is a better-than-expected raise, when you consider the initial offer was 1.25% with a signing bonus that is much needed extra cash for many of our brothers and sisters. It is also not fair that the offer is far below inflation which has resulted in a drastic rise in our cost of living here in NYC. All union members have the right to know what changes are coming to healthcare, so they can make an informed vote.
Our UFT members across the city have shown a strong willingness to fight for a good contract that we deserve. The teach-ins and solidarity days had strong, really strong showings. We have contract action teams with motivated members in nearly every chapter. When our union leadership leads our members are eager to follow. Our membership is ready, willing and able to fight for fair raises, our premium free quality healthcare PPO and improvements to our working conditions and student’s learning conditions.
Social Studies Teacher
UFT Executive Board Representative
UFT Contract Negotiating Committee
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