Union elections have consequences. One of those consequences is apparently getting your healthcare and retirement benefits stripped away without a membership vote. 

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.


12 Responses to “Union elections have consequences. One of those consequences is apparently getting your healthcare and retirement benefits stripped away without a membership vote. ”

  1. 1 Mike D. March 10, 2023 at 8:57 am

    The next step is that current teachers are going to be pushed into the exact same Medicare Advantage plan. I wonder how many teachers know that this is actually going to actually happen? It is all part of Mulgrew’s plan to decimate healthcare for every municipal worker to save the city money. I further wonder where are all the Unity shills who helped Mulgrew get re-elected right now? I don’t hear any of them on social media trying to sell this shitty plan. Just wait till this drops on inservice members. Gonna be a lot of clueless teachers who are gonna be wondering what the hell happened.

    • 2 baconuft March 10, 2023 at 9:06 am

      Right. In-service members need to understand that one day they will retiree too. When we retire, we’ll be stuck with this plan (or more realistically, whatever is left of it in 30 years). Our own healthcare is also on the verge of being replaced by a mysterious RFP to cut costs to GHI by about 10%. That can’t be good. Meanwhile, Mulgrew is allowing GHI to become a shell of its former self. $100 copays for CityMD? In 2016, we paid $15.

      • 3 Mike D. March 10, 2023 at 9:43 am

        It’s worse. From my understanding, now that the MLC put retirees into Medicare Advantage, that means according to the law/city code, inservice members can be forced into the same plan. Please look into this!

      • 4 baconuft March 10, 2023 at 9:48 am

        We aren’t Medicare eligible so in-service can’t be put onto MAP yet, though it does sound like in all likelihood Aetna will also administer the in service plan that replaces GHI.

  2. 5 Mike D. March 10, 2023 at 9:54 am

    Yes, that is what I was trying to say. We will all be put into the Aetna plan with no choice of any other plans. Mulgrew is saying that the “arbitrator” ruled that the city only has to offer one plan. However, the arbitrator was not an arbitrator at all. Do you think the City will make the Aetna plan our only choice for inservice members?

    • 6 baconuft March 10, 2023 at 9:58 am

      Technically, our contract says there must be a ‘choice’ of premium free plans, plural. But my guess is HIP will be the other choice (HMO) and Aetna will be the only PPO. GHI may remain as a pay up plan. Again, I’m speculating here.

      • 7 Mike D. March 10, 2023 at 11:41 am

        I thought that retirees were also supposed to have a
        “choice” of healthcare. Now they don’t. Seems if the MLC can give only one plan to the retirees, they can can do the same to us. That is how the city code is written from my understanding. Any more info on this is appreciated. Nobody at my school knows what is going on.

      • 8 baconuft March 10, 2023 at 11:50 am

        Retirees have one other choice in addition to Aetna – another Medicare Advantage plan called HIP VIP. That’s one reason I suspect in-service will have Aetna for PPO and HIP for HMO – that mirrors what’s happening with Medicare.

  3. 9 Mike D. March 10, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    Exactly my point! We are gonna pretty much get what they get. Goodbye to over 10 choices of healthcare for us.

  4. 10 LS March 10, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    the NYC retirees group will be filing a lawsuit — they made clear that NOT changing admin code 12-126 strengthens their case. Hopefully we will keep the status quo as this plays out in the courts – then fingers crossed retirees win! (which will mean everyone wins, including in-service members).

  1. 1 DC37 Makes Sub-Inflation Pattern Official | New Action - UFT Trackback on April 2, 2023 at 12:44 am

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March 2023

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