UFT Members Take Note: Medicare Advantage is a Consequence of Backroom Bargaining

Today, Martin Scheinman issued an expected arbitration decision that elaborated what he had already told us he would do several months ago: force retirees onto Medicare Advantage. This time, the privatized Medicare program will be managed by Aetna, who you may remember sued when they didn’t get our contract the first time around. His decision is long, roughly 60 pages (though about 30 of those are appendixes). You can probably get away with reading the 3 page ‘summary‘ he presaged back in September. The decision substantiates much of what the UFT’s left-opposition has been saying all along.

  • This all comes down to the 2018 (and 2014) contract(s). Scheinman only has the right to intervene here, because Mulgrew promised healthcare savings to the City that he couldn’t make happen (and without the informed consent of membership).
  • Scheinman’s ability to force retirees onto MA has nothing to do with a judge’s ruling about the ‘end of collective bargaining rights,’ as UFT leadership has claimed. No, as I wrote last week, “No judge decided we could lose collective bargaining rights over healthcare. Contracts have consequences, and one is arbitration when there’s a question of one party not meeting their obligations. UFT Leadership is unable to meet their obligations of healthcare savings from the 2018 contract. Our arbitrator, Martin Scheinman said he would intervene and enforce MAP as the only healthcare option for retirees (in order to get the City its savings). That’s not the end of collective bargaining, it’s a consequence of collective bargaining.”
  • Scheinman’s decision does nothing to counter the argument that this is all a big coordinated plot between the City, the MLC, and perhaps even those in charge of arbitrating their ‘disagreements.’ Indeed, much of the language on the City and the MLC here is ‘fluffy.’ For instance, on page 14 of the decision, Scheinman states “Striking the right balance between rising healthcare costs and the provision of robust, quality benefits has been the focus of near constant work by the MLC and the City for decades.” On that same page, he notes that the ‘cost savings’ agreement first entered into effect in 2014 was “historic.” If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Sheinman, Mulgrew, and Adams were labor’s only friends.
  • The only ‘villains’ in the official story are a “small group of unaffiliated retirees,” (p. 19), i.e. the retired left-opposition. This substantiates what we’ve been saying all along, that the people who have been fighting for better healthcare will be scapegoated by the people in power who destroyed it. Don’t get me wrong, that ‘small group of retirees’ has said some things I disagree with. Grandfathering is NOT a solution here. We must preserve traditional Medicare both for current AND future retirees.

While those with power party poolside, we bare the consequences of a union leadership who has given up on fighting for our benefits. Medicare (Dis)advantage is a consequence of backroom bargaining. As our union leadership has kicked us to the curb on healthcare, it will be up to us to organize our own grassroots response to keep our benefits at the level we deserve.


3 Responses to “UFT Members Take Note: Medicare Advantage is a Consequence of Backroom Bargaining”

  1. 1 Daniel Bologh March 9, 2023 at 8:55 pm

    I’m thrilled that New Action is fighting for us. I didn’t know we could work to stop Medical Advantage from destroying the health care benefits we’ve had. I, Dan Bologh, want to join this fight for the future health of our teachers.

  1. 1 UFT Healthcare: Possible Roads Ahead | New Action - UFT Trackback on December 19, 2022 at 11:20 pm
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December 2022

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