Union Elections Have Consequences
One of those consequences is apparently getting your healthcare and retirement benefits stripped away without a membership vote. - Nick Bacon, repost from http://newaction.org
Today, the Municipal Labor Commission (MLC) voted to force hundreds of thousands of retirees off of traditional public Medicare and onto one of two privatized Medicare Advantage Plans (MAPs). (Full analysis of those two plans and the UFT’s role: here).
Most of the City unions did not vote in favor of this change. But most unions are much smaller than the UFT and DC37. Therefore, with weighted voting, Mulgrew and Garrido were able to ram through Mulgrewcare with the help of a handful of other union leaders.
Weighted voting in itself isn’t unfair. Some of the unions in the MLC are smaller than divisions in the UFT. It makes sense that our union would get more of a say than particularly tiny ones. On the other hand, does it make sense that UFT votes as one giant bloc? Perhaps, the issue is that UFT has a winner-take-all model of democracy. Only a few minor seats, such as the High School Executive Board, are obtained through division votes. So, even though more than 40% of in-service teachers voted against Mulgrew, including the majority of high school voters, Mulgrew gets to speak for us – and use our weight to influence MLC votes. That’s particularly egregious, because those who voted against Mulgrew voted overwhelmingly for United for Change (which included New Action). One of our platform items was to preserve traditional Medicare and end healthcare givebacks. It’s sickening to know that Mulgrew was able to use our numbers to vote against our interests as explicitly outlined in our election materials.
Better yet, why wasn’t a decision this big opened up to a vote for general membership? Even those who voted for Mulgrew in the last election didn’t know that he would push through MAP without even a payup option to keep traditional Medicare. We should have been able to directly vote on this question. But, when asked, Mulgrew made it clear to the executive board, the DA, and–most explicitly–to the retirees that membership would not get a say. His message was simple, a paraphrased version of Trump’s infamous: ‘elections have consequences.’ By winning the UFT election, it seems, Mulgrew earned the right to throw us off our healthcare. He earned the right, in fact, to throw every municipal union off their healthcare.
Look, the damage isn’t necessarily done. Tier sixers, like myself, are probably feeling pretty pessimistic right now. (We might be able to win for a while, but how do we win for another 50 years?) Nevertheless, we can organize. We can fight back. And we need to take Mulgrew at his word. If elections have consequences this drastic, it’s time for members to start getting involved with alternatives.
We can’t keep letting Mulgrew’s ‘political party,’ Unity Caucus, do this to us. We can’t keep letting them do this to our brothers and sisters throughout the labor movement either. It’s time for a change.
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