Why UFT members don’t get a vote on Healthcare – Notes on the December DA

There are two stories on the December, 2022 DA. One is the protest outside the DA, where hundreds of retirees and supporters gathered in front of 52 Broadway to protest healthcare givebacks. The other story is what happened in the DA.

Mulgrew spoke a lot tonight on the ‘arbitration decision’ that supposedly compels the MLC/City to force retirees onto Medicare Advantage. He also thanked our members for doing as told and petitioning the City Council to amend 12-126. I asked a two part question, which I show below with his response summarized in italics.

(1) Martin Scheinman phrases his so-called ‘award’ not as a ‘decision’ but as a ‘recommendation.’ He calls other awards ‘decisions.’ Councilwoman Gale Brewer also commented that the arbitrator decision is non-binding. Why are you calling it a decision? To this question, Michael Mulgrew admitted that the decision is not binding, despite having spoken about it as if it was before my question. Of course, if it’s non-binding, that begs the question of why we’re even talking about it. It literally can’t be enforced.

(2) There’s been a lot of talk tonight about our fight to change 12-126. You called it ‘our opinion’ that it should be changed. But there was never a decision by the Executive Board or the Delegate Assembly that this was our point of view. Shouldn’t we have been consulted for a vote before we as a union decided it was our decision to invest in resources and campaign to literally change city law? Other unions, don’t even agree with that move. PSC (the CUNY professors union) for instance is campaigning to NOT change the code. Mulgrew’s response was long here. He gaslit a bit about how we ‘can’t vote on EVERYTHING.’ But more importantly he noted that ‘he was voted in’ and thus ‘has the right to make decisions.’ What does that say about our democracy?

Towards the end of the DA, I put forward an amendment to the Tier 6 reso, a reso which was vague as originally written, as it did not specify that the union planned to do anything to make Tier 6 anything like Tier 4. Dave Kazansky spoke against the amendment, which should tell us how cosmetic are the changes they plan to make to Tier 6. Before anyone in opposition, including me, had a chance to endorse, the parliamentarian claimed that the amendment, which has 3 resolves, isn’t 3 lines, and therefore needs to be printed. They therefore, on a dubious technicality, prevented a vote from taking place on the amendment below:

Be it resolved: the UFT will begin an immediate and aggressive lobbying campaign to the City and the State to improve Tier 6 to at least the level enjoyed by current members of Tier 4. Where benefits differ within Tier 4 for members with different join dates, the UFT will opt to work to equalize both Tier 4 and Tier 6 to the join date with superior benefits.

Be it resolved: as part of this campaign, the UFT will lobby to create a 25-55 option for all current Tier 6 members equal to that previously offered to many Tier 4 members.

Be it resolved: the UFT will also commit to campaigning against any new proposed tiers for future members that have lower benefits than those of currently active tiers.

What can I say? Not a great night for UFT democracy.


  • Avatar
    Zeke Plotkin

    If something is more than three lines, then it needs to be in writing so that Democratic debate can occur. The amendment was too long to be recalled and debated properly. This is not a technicality and to claim so shows ignorance in the procedures and requirements for debate.

    • baconuft

      Yes, thank you for being the person to point that out after UFT leadership themselves didn’t notice and was able to begin debate due to the simplicity of the amendment. First of all, that technicality is meant for full resolutions. It was a stretch to apply it to an amendment with no whereases and three resolveds. Second of all, even if we do apply that thinking (3 lines) to amendments with no whereases and three resolveds, what’s the definition of a line? I had 3 resolveds. One could easily argue that my amendment met the definition (a basic resolved is about equal to a line). Certainly, I’ve seen bigger amendments added to resolutions before under different circumstances without any fuss. Specifically, if Unity Caucus were OK with the amendment (they weren’t, as they were already debating against it), I sincerely doubt they would have interpreted the amendment as too long. Was the amendment really so hard to understand that we couldn’t democratically debate it (as Dave Kanzsky had already started to do?): (1) take the position to equalize Tier 6 with Tier 4, (2) no Tier 7 if it’s worse than Tier 6, and (3) bring back 25-55. That was it. No, Unity just didn’t want to risk putting it to a vote. The resolution is much easier to accept, when it just says ‘keep doing what we’re doing,’ i.e. keep making minor changes, which probably won’t do anything to reduce the absurd retirement age for people like me in Tier 6.

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