Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Michael Mulgrew Is the Fearmonger-in-Chief

At left, you can see Unity's new campaign against those of us standing against further degradation of our health care. Their rationale for calling us fearmongers is that there will be premium-free health care. However, no one I know has claimed otherwise, ever.

Well, that's not strictly true. I know of one person who threatened UFT members with premiums. That would be UFT President Michael Mulgrew. He sent us an email in late October, and here's what it said:

The city’s Office of Labor Relations sent a letter to the head of the Municipal Labor Committee giving the unions notice of its intent to enroll all Medicare‑eligible city retirees in a NYC Medicare Advantage plan and eliminate all other retiree health plans, including GHI SeniorCare. If the unions don’t go along with it, the city has threatened annual health care premiums of roughly $1,500 for all in‑service municipal employees

Mulgrew was trying to get us to support amending Administrative Code 12-126. He suggested that if we didn't manage to do so, we'd get stuck with these premiums. Then UFT urged us all to post tweets demanding that 12-126 be revised. This would have allowed the city to continue offering GHI Senior Care for those who could afford it, like retired UFT officials who collect two pensions. And in fact, altering it would have opened the door for all kinds of cheap programs Mulgrew and Adams could have foisted upon us.

But guess what? The City Council refused to alter 12-126. And guess what else? You are NOT paying premiums for your health insurance. Now fearmongering is when you threaten people for no good reason. Given that Mulgrew threatened us with premiums if we didn't alter 12-126, given it was not altered, and given we don't pay premiums, at least so far, there's only one person we can persuasively accuse of fearmongering.

That person is UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

What we are saying is that our health care is being degraded, becoming more costly, and we've had enough. A Unity rep, paid with our dues money, might tell you there are no new copays, and that's true. However, it's true because virtually every procedure you have already carries a copay. What else are they going to attach a copay to? Breathing?

Mulgrew does not want to talk about the fact that copays have skyrocketed. It used to cost 15 bucks to visit an urgent care. Then it became 50. And then it became 100. Maybe some are still 50, but I have no idea where. There's an Advantage Care one near me. I went there once, when my daughter hurt her leg, and there were 20 people in front of me. A rep asked me what the matter was, told me we'd wait hours, and that they had no x-ray machine. I drove a few blocks and paid City MD 50 bucks (which would now be 100).

Now Mulgrew is arguing that his opponents are Tucker Carlson. A big thing propagandists do is project their own shortcomings on others. How many people has Donald Trump called crooks? Pretty much anyone and everyone who disagrees with him. It's very tough to argue Mulgrew isn't doing exactly the same here.

No one's arguing that the Medicare Advantage Mulgrew is imposing into carries a premium. We're arguing that there are fewer doctors will accept this plan than will accept standard Medicare. We're arguing that there are procedures that require approval that don't need it under standard Medicare. We're arguing that Aetna has every motivation to deny as many procedures as possible to maximize their profit. We're looking at those who've had this very experience with Aetna.

And no, we don't believe that we're going to find care equal or superior to that of non-profit GHI/ Emblem for 10% less. In fact, many of us have lost doctors because GHI pays them so little. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear Mulgrew is looking at Aetna to insure us all. And I don't trust Michael Mulgrew to save money for us, as opposed to Eric Adams. I don't trust him to put a halt to skyrocketing co-pays. Experience, not fearmongering, suggests he will do no such thing.

I also don't trust Michael Mulgrew to negotiate a good deal. Another thing he and his Unity BFFs don't say is that Mulgrew made a 2018 deal to save Eric Adams 600 million dollars a year forever in order to get a contract that hovered around inflation for three years. There ought to be no givebacks for a contract that meets inflation, because it's not a raise. But our contract's expired, and we still owe Eric Adams. We will owe him forever due to a deal Mulgrew made without our input, and that's why Mulgrew's messing with our insurance.

And FWIW, we wouldn't need to discuss this at all if we'd support and pass the NY Health Act. But Mulgrew says that would hurt us, and refuses to negotiate a workaround with its sponsors.Who's the fearmonger?

People who originally posted the picture above are members of the elite, invitation only Unity Caucus. Unity emailed them and told them to. They're almost certainly on UFT payroll. And let me tell you something--getting ahead in that union gig is a strong motivation for them to go along and post this baseless, ad hominem nonsense. Maybe they need the extra cash. Or maybe they don't want to come back to classrooms and do the real work. Regardless, the fact that they can't muster a decent argument suggests they're wrong. Don't trust them, and don't trust Michael Mulgrew.

Trust yourself. And sign this petition demanding a vote on your health care before Mulgrew tosses us to the dogs, just as he did to our retirees.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Mulgrew Writes About Health Care. Everything is Great.

I was fortunate enough to get the first draft of the email Michael Mulgrew sent to members today. For some reason, I didn't ever get the actual email. Go figure. Well, I've only been a UFT member for 38 years, 12 as chapter leader of the most overcrowded school in the city. Maybe I'm just not on the list yet.

UPDATE: Daniel Alicea told me I could change my contact preferences in the UFT Member Hub. I checked and found I was unsubscribed to emails, though I had received UFT emails for years and never unsubscribed myself. I checked subscribe, so I hope that works.  

UPDATE 2: I've now received a threatening letter from a law firm contending this is "impersonation" rather than parody.  I've removed the digital signature as a result. I've left the rest of the piece.


Dear Duespayer,

We  (notice, as President, I refer to myself in the royal we) are writing to give you an update on our in-service health care. All of our members have and will continue to have access to premium-free health care. The quality of this health care may not be all that great, but on the bright side, cutting costs and services saves Eric Adams a shit ton of money.

As you know, the UFT is one of the few teachers' unions in the country that still offers premium-free health care coverage for members. Sure, it costs you 100 bucks to go to an urgent care or get an MRI, and if I had my way it would be 400. But you're not paying a premium, and that's what you need to focus on. Remember when I told you that if we didn't change 12-126 you'd all pay $1500 a year? Well, we were blocked from doing that, and you now know, I was lying to scare you into doing what I wanted. I wanted to save the choice of decent care for those who could afford it, like my privileged and elite BFFs, but it didn't work out, so the hell with all of you.

It is our (royal we again) strong belief that an employer should not be negotiating our health benefits with insurance providers unless we are at the table. That is why WE are always at the table. YOU are not at the table, because we do this with MLC, where I get to vote and YOU do not. So if you don't like my our decisions, too bad for you. As a matter of fact, we just dumped all the retirees into a Medicare Advantage program, and man are they pissed! In fact, they're circulating a petition demanding a voice in these negotiations. Bastards.

This year, when deciding whether or not to renew our current in-service GHI CBP health care plan, the Municipal Labor Committee, along with the city, put out a request for proposals (RFP). You see, in 2018, we agreed to save the city 600 million dollars a year forever. For that, we got a three year contract around cost of living. That was a fantastic deal, even though it turns out forever is a little bit longer than three years. Anyhoo, while your copays have exploded, at least you aren't paying a premium. Focus on that. Look at it this way--if you never go to a doctor, this won't cost you ANYTHING. Woo hoo!

We just completed negotiations with Aetna on a new health care plan for all Medicare-eligible city retirees that preserves our retirees’ premium-free health care, lowers their out-of-pocket costs and improves their benefits. Well, lower until we figure a way restore copays and increase charges, at least. Sure, they no longer have as wide a choice of doctors. Sure, if they live in a dead zone they're screwed. Sure, Aetna can decide they don't need some procedures they actually do need and oh well, they don't get them. But I'm saving a TON of cash for Eric Adams, and isn't it your PATRIOTIC DUTY as a union member to save money for our employer?

We will continue to keep you updated as negotiations proceed, and we won’t stop working to ensure that Eric Adams can afford to continue paying police double their allotted overtime. Or we could just enforce an existing tax on Wall Street. But why get all persnickety over that stuff when we can just cut back on your health care instead? Also, we're working hard to get you a new contract that will provide you about a third of the 8.7% cost of living increase.  And that ALSO saves money for Eric Adams!

And if you don’t like that, tough noogies. 

Your pal,

Micheal Mulgrew


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Proctoring the PSAT

I don't mind telling you that I hate proctoring. It's not so bad in my own classes with tests that I've written. But I feel pretty stupid proctoring the physics Regents exam, or pretty much any exam involving subjects I don't know. Kids ask me questions and I feel pretty stupid when I can't answer them. In fact, I can't even know whether or not I'm supposed to answer. 

The PSAT is even worse. It wasn't really hard work. I had a partner, we managed to share the time, and we agreed whenever possible I would read and he would write. His handwriting was pretty clear. Mine is diabolical. While I usually understand it, lots of people do not. Sometimes kids laugh out loud at my handwriting. It makes me think I should've been a doctor. Doctors are notorious for bad handwriting. There's just the matter of my total lack of scientific ability. 

I never took the PSAT myself. I took the SAT once, and I remember it was a Saturday morning. The night before I had read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, so I was feeling very philosophical.  I loved that book. I've tried to teach it three times, and I've never been able to get students to share my love for it. I've stopped trying, Still, it beats the hell out of sitting for the PSAT. 

The first part of the test entailed having students fill out items 1-8. We all did that together. Evidently, it's important for those folks at College Board to know your name if they're going to score your test. That's fair enough. I wouldn't want to be stuck with the grade of some random stranger. Of course, random strangers tend to be better at math than I am, so there's that.

During the exam, a student asked me about the second page of information PSAT had. I wasn't sure. I had been faithfully reading the manual. I'd spoken to an administrator that day, and she said, "Just read whatever it says."

"You don't want me to improvise?" I asked.

"Absolutely not," she said, in a tone that indicated further discussion was not welcome.

I muttered something about expressing myself, but she was unmoved. So I went with the script. It was not entirely familiar to me. Having been chapter leader for most of the years we'd offered this test, I'd happily managed to weasel out of this particular assignment.

Anyway, after the test was over, there were additional directions about filling out further info, including but not limited to cell phone number and email. The script I read said some of this stuff was optional, but it would be beneficial for colleges to know who you were so they could send you information and such.

I had promised to read the script, so I did. But I felt like I was whoring myself out to College Board. Mayor Eric Adams, in his infinite wisdom, forced me and all my UFT colleagues to take a webinar on student privacy. If privacy is valuable, why is every high school teacher reading stuff on behalf of the College Board pleading for student information? Don't they get paid for the info they share with colleges?

Are these kids going to be bombarded with calls and emails from Fly by Night Online University, with a Delaware PO box mailing address? How much will College Board get paid for that? And since we're out there whoring ourselves out for them, why don't we get a cut? I mean, what sort of whores are we if we don't even get paid for our services?

Personally, I think it's unethical to urge minors to give personal info. I'm not an advocate of parents banning books, but I think they should know in advance when companies are going to seek personal information. I also think they should have a direct veto over sharing it. .

But that's just me. I'm not College Board boss David Coleman, famous for inflicting Common Core on our entire nation. Coleman's money comment is, "No one gives a shit what you think."

I would not be comfortable sharing my child's personal info with any company that sees fit to put a person like that in charge. I'm not sure why Mayor Swagger feels differently. The only thing I'm sure of is that neither he nor Coleman could care less what teachers think. 

That's just one reason why neither of them should be remotely involved in education.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Who Is Denigrating the UFT?


You know, if you read this and other blogs, that various groups and/ or members have received cease and desist notices from a fancy law firm. This is because they used the logo of their own union, the one designed and paid for by our dues. Our dues also pay the salaries of every single person who works for UFT. 

Some UFT employees have been posting the picture at left on social media sites, ridiculing rank and file members concerned about their health insurance. These employees are horrified. How dare UFT members criticize the people who sign their paychecks? 

At a recent Executive Board meeting, members in opposition were told that this threat was only for people who "denigrate" the union. Now "denigrate" means to criticize unfairly, or disparage. 

I learned a long time ago to differentiate between leadership and membership. When I say UFT, I mean you and me--the people who teach and care for New York City's children. Leadership, though, seems to think otherwise. They send their paid staff members to portray us as, well, hysterical chickens. 

So who's really denigrating the UFT?

Now I'm certain that UFT leadership doesn't like criticism. Who does? However, we all know that leadership is in a balls to the wall campaign to remove retirees from Medicare and place them in an Advantage plan. We also know there is a request for proposals to replace GHI/ Emblem, the plan most of us have used our entire careers. Who actually believes a cheaper plan will be as good or better?

Do you think Michael Mulgrew really believes that?

I have heard all the arguments. Last time, Mulgrew claimed every doctor who accepted Medicare would take the Emblem plan, and that didn't work out. He failed to examine 12-126 or its implications. Thus, he lost a few embarrassing lawsuits. We'll see what happens in the next one, which is inevitable.

What has he missed this time? As time goes by, hasn't GHI cost us a little lot more and been accepted a little less? Do you believe the city will keep paying to avoid the pre-approvals currently excluded? Do you believe it hasn't been misrepresented, as the previous plan was?

While this may be better than the last iteration of Advantage (which Mike Mulgrew said was the bestest thing ever), it's certainly not better than national Medicare. Mulgrew's caucus, Unity, is composed entirely of people who either work for the union or are bucking for a union job. They use this pic to ridicule you, me, and any other UFT members who question their plan. 

So again, who is denigrating the UFT?

I've read a lot about union over the past few months. I highly recommend Beaten Down, Worked Up by Steven Greenhouse. It tells inspiring stories of union's successes, failures, and resourcefulness in bettering the lives of working Americans.  UFT Unity, though, actively ridicules activists who fight for better working conditions. Make no mistake, it is the actual job of leadership to fight for better working conditions. Instead, they're looking to save money for the city and sticking us with a plan that their own former vice-presidents claim is inadequate. Meanwhile, Mike Mulgrew and Unity members loudly proclaim it's good enough for us.

Given that, who is denigrating the UFT?

Leadership is not doing their job. In fact, they are doing the opposite. They are working round the clock for Mayor Eric Adams, our adversary in negotiations. All of these changes are being done to achieve "savings." But said savings are for the city, not for us. Michael Mulgrew and the other geniuses at MLC made the dumbest deal ever, agreeing to 600 million a year in "savings," forever, in exchange for a now-expired three-year contract that hovered around the inflation rate.

If we point out just how stupid that deal was, are we denigrating the UFT? Or is truth still the best defense?

Now, Mike Mulgrew and the rest of us are staring at a multi-year contract that is around 3% a year. The Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2023 is 8.7%. That means our salary increase will leave us with, effectively, a 5.7% cut. Mike Mulgrew will tell us this is the best they can do, as always, and urge us to support an effective pay cut.

Is pointing out the obvious denigrating the UFT?

I don't think you need any more pointers to see who is denigrating the UFT. Obviously, Unity's plan is to gaslight us so we accept inferior health care and less buying power. We can do better. I understand that leadership has to make difficult decisions, but in terms of health care, Michael Mulgrew has misled and failed us at every juncture. 

Michael Mulgrew is not fit to make decisions on our behalf. That's why I signed this petition urging any changes in health care be voted on by us, the rank and file. You should sign it too. Michael Mulgrew insults our intelligence when he claims these changes, which are not good enough for his BFFs, are good enough for us. 

By gaslighting us, by selling us straw and pretending it's gold, and by having his paid minions issue us juvenile insults, Michael Mulgrew denigrates our union. Send  him a message. Let him know that representing the UFT entails representing all of us, not only his patronage employees, and certainly not Mayor Eric Adams. 

Make no mistake, WE are the UFT. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

It's a Witch Hunt, Says Mulgrew

Here I am, your favorite President. Can you believe the people coming after me? Can you imagine what would be happening if I were not your President? It would be a catastrophe, very, very, very, not good. But while I'm here, that will not happen. A lot of people are telling me about this.

Now I'm used to those low energy, boring, crooked, pathetic bloggers coming after me. It's just another witch hunt. Of course I don't expect them to give me credit for all the amazing, beautiful things I've done. And they can keep coming after me. I don't care. They are just really, really, really nasty and unfair.  Frankly, their criticisms are disgusting. It's complete and total garbage, as a matter of fact. 

A lot of people are saying they're out there, basically spreading their garbage all over the internets. But it's so unfair. They don't consider all the beautiful, tremendous things that everyone knows I've done, believe me. 

Now I don't have to do this. I could just stay home and enjoy. I'm very, very, very wealthy, you know. But I want to be out there and help, no matter what the pathetic, no-energy losers are saying on their little blogs that I don't ever, ever EVER read.

Do you know how many people came to see me speak at the last Delegate Assembly? It was massive, unbelievable. It was standing room only. To hear those low-energy, weak losers, you'd think I was out in a field somewhere, serenading the hoot owls. Real Americans, real UFT members, don't go for that kind of woke nonsense. You know, in China, they have a President for Life. They know what they're doing over there. Maybe we could do that here! It would be first class, believe me.

Now I laid out a beautiful, wonderful health plan, believe me. It was tremendous, unbelievable. But those pathetic losers came out and said, nooooo, we can't do that. But a lot of people are saying that they want this fantastic plan, and I'm just not, not gonna let them down. You don't hear about them in the fake news blogs. Just the other day, a big man, a real working man, came up to me the other day, and said, "Sir, your Medicare plan is the best thing I've ever seen. It's now, it's wow." And that big man had tears in his eyes as he told me this. 

Now don't be discouraged. Together, we are going to make this UFT great again. If you read the fake news blogs, you'll see those little losers whining. They'll say, "Oh, we need the New York Health Act. This way everyone will be covered. No one of any age will have copays. This way everyone over 65 will get real Medicare, and they'll be able to see doctors all over the country. This way everyone will get long term care, and no one will have to divest all their assets to pay for long term care."

You know what that is? That's socialism. And we don't need socialism in the United Federation of teachers. I have a very, very big, very tremendous, very, very beautiful plan here. And the people who talk about the New York Health Act? They are really, really not smart people. Now we have smart people right here in the union. Some people would say they're very, very smart. Now this new plan for retirees will be amazing. It will be amazing. And the new plan for you in service. It will be really, really, really outstanding, believe me. 

But we can't worry about all those other people who are not in the union. We need to put UFT first. There has never been a union like ours. Never in history, and perhaps there will never be one again. But the fake news bloggers want us to be a union in decline, a failing union. We will never allow that.

That's why I've moved to put a stop to their woke nonsense. Now I don't know, but people are telling me some of their are using our great symbol, the UFT logo, on their socialist websites. The UFT is not about socialism. We stand for freedom and liberty. And that's why we are going to sue those pathetic little, little losers. But we will protect and preserve our precious logo. They will pay, believe me. 

Now we love the leftists. The leftist losers. The low-energy, leftist, losers. We love them. But they need our help. We need grownups in the room to guide them, and that's why we will sue them. We will sue them, and we will take all their money, and it's all for their own good. One day, they will come up to me and say, "Sir, I'm glad you sued me. And I'm very, very, very glad you won. Because what I did with the logo was very, very not good."

But they need to love our union. And they need to love it like you love your mommy. None of this criticism when we do beautiful, tremendous, unbelievable things. That's detrimental to the union, and we will not stand for that. Our new union will be huge. It will be unbelievably vast and massive. And no one will dare question us, because that's what our tremendous freedom and liberty is all about, believe me. 

That's why I'm building a beautiful wall around 52 Broadway. No more will anyone just be able to cross over our sacred revolving door. We will guard our frankly, first class building. The wall will be massive, but it will also be elegant. The socialists, frankly, are aspiring to be terrorists. We don't tolerate terrorism. We stand for freedom, and liberty and beauty. 

And let's face it, they are low-energy people. We don't need low energy. We need, frankly, lots and lots of energy. And frankly, no one knows how much energy we need better than I do. Energy? I know energy, and no one knows energy like I know energy...

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Ethics-Shmethics--The Mike Mulgrew Story

Chapter 21--I Scuttle Health Care for Members

It isn't easy making contract agreements.  You have to sit through all kinds of meetings, and the city reps are all, "I don't want to give you this," and, "I don't want to give you that." So you have to be willing to compromise. 

Now in 2014, we made a really clever agreement with the city. We were overdue raises for years. Now we could have gone to arbitration and demanded that we immediately get what the cops and firefighters got, but where's the romance in that? 

We'd probably just have won, and then we'd have to negotiate a new contract again. Jeez, a guy gets tired, you know? I had vacations to take, and gala luncheons to go to! Who has time for all that boring contract stuff?

So we did something creative. We let them pay us what everyone else got years ago, and we also accepted a really total crap pattern going forward, which we managed to impose on the rest of the city. Also, we let them pay us out over 5 or ten years (Who remembers?), with no interest whatsoever. We had all our lackeys tell everyone what a fantastic deal it was. (Fortunately, it was so complicated no one understood it well enough to explain what a terrible deal it really was.)

Not only that, but in addition to waiting forever for our pay, we agreed to health savings. We agreed that all new employees would be in HIP for a year, and basically have very little choice in doctors. That worked out fine, so in 2018 we agreed to save the city 600 million a year in health care, forever. For that, we got a contract that was, maybe, cost of living for only three years, but I make three times what the duespayers do, so what the hell did I care?

I told the members there would be no additional copays, and there weren't! Sure, I doubled and tripled some here and there, and where it used to cost $15 to go to an urgent care, it could now run 100. I wanted to make it 400, but the bastards in MLC wouldn't agree to it. Anyhoo, even then, it was tougher to make those savings forever than we'd anticipated. Forever, it turns out, is a lot longer than three years. Who knew?

There were a lot of ideas to save money. One was consolidating all the Welfare Funds. That would mean there would be one Welfare Fund for the whole city, and we would lose the UFT Welfare Fund. Frankly, that was unacceptable. The only way, really, that my caucus has held onto power all these years has been our tremendous patronage machine. 

Everybody wants my job, but they have to work their way up. It's not easy to do that. Not everyone has the constitution to agree with absolutely every decision I make, no matter how boneheaded it may be. Still, there are plenty of people willing to lick my boots all day and all night, and if they're really good at it, we give them jobs. Now sure, that doesn't mean we always get competent people, but there were usually enough of them to keep the lights on, more or less. 

Competent or not, these are people who are willing to work and campaign for us 24/7 if need be. They know damn well if they lose these jobs they'll have to go back to some frigging classroom fighting the paper airplanes and what have you. 

See, with all those loyalists running around, almost everyone else was passive, going along with whatever. If this group every started looking or acting like a real union, they'd vote our asses out in a New York minute. We were never gonna allow that to happen. 

Same thing with that NY Health Act. Sure, we could get better health care for not only our members, but everyone in our state. But that would mean we lose even MORE patronage gigs. Totally unacceptable.

Anyway, we decided not to touch the union gigs, so first we went after the retirees. Now sure, this was gonna hurt our rep, but I was gonna retire in just a few years with two pretty hefty pensions, so it was no skin off my apple. We'd just put up someone else who could say, "Hey, Mulgrew did that. I had nothing to do with it." That would work. So we killed our Medigap plan, the one that everyone loved, and replaced it with one of those Advantage plans that Joe Namath was always advertising. They squawked, and are still in court trying to repeal it. We'll see about that.

Then, I managed to find a plan for the in-service people. It really was awful, but I was able to envision a clever workaround,  so again, what did I care? Fortunately, most of rank and file was asleep as usual, and we didn't really start to get complaints until doctors began bellyaching about working for less than minimum wage. Finally, those idiots at MLC allowed me to enact $400 copays, and that solved it. The doctors were happy, and members could see just about any one they wanted, if they had the cash.

You should have heard those duespayers bitching. It went on and on and on. But hey, what's $400 if you really need a doctor? Are you gonna put a price on your health? Where are the values for these duespayers? They elected me, and that meant I made all the decisions. Like I told them, duespayers, I said, if I gave you a vote you'd just vote NO. That's why you don't get one.

Now sure, when I DID get elected, almost 75% didn't bother to vote. It really paid off spending all those decades building apathy! And yeah, we won by a much lower margin than ever before, but I've never said word one about it in public. 

Now here's the thing....

Monday, March 13, 2023

Another Message from Mike Mulgrew to Retirees

Mulgrew wrote to retirees again about the Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan. Or Mulgrew and Tom Murphy did. Or someone did, and put Murphy and Mulgrew’s names on top.*

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

UFT Aristocracy Plays the Blame Game

UFT Unity leadership is on the warpath today, defending their indefensible betrayal of retirees. (And in-service are next, once they get us to pass that crap contract Adams wants.)

Now that they themselves are pushing every city retiree into a system that none of them wanted or chose (let alone voted on), they're going full-steam ahead to blame membership. There's a lot of irony here, and I'm a big fan of irony.

Plan A for Unity was to dump so-called Advantage only on those who could not afford an upgrade. Unity sent highly-compensated former vice-presidents to advocate for "choice." This choice, for me, would be the choice of downgrading my future pension by $5,000 a year, to start, for me and my wife. From there, of course, the sky's the limit. This was quite upsetting to me, even though I may have been able to swing it.

What cannot be overstated is that this was an impossibility for many city employees. There are a lot of city employees who make a lot less than teachers. So this much-vaunted "choice" was off the table for them. A friend tells me that, under the current scenario, it will cost him and his wife about $9,000 a year to retain standard Medicare. That's too much for me.

Mulgrew's Minions will say they tried to protect "choice." They'll conveniently omit it was only for those fortunate enough to afford it. And hey, those VPs who made several times our salaries, who retired with two pensions? They probably light their cigars with hundred dollar bills. 9K a year is peanuts to them. They will say those nasty retirees who stood up to them ruined it for everyone. They're quite arrogant about it, in fact. Here's a letter from a UFT bigshot to retirees:

Dear Committee Members,


I try to be even handed and neutral when I write. BUT, there are moments that even I lose that sensibility.


So, if I may point out the biggest reversal of position that I have seen in the last ten years  other than Trump's almost daily doublespeak, this article tells us that Ms. Pizzatola of the lawsuit organization now urges the City Council to AMEND THE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE!!! 


I presume this article is accurate but many have not been so. If it is accurate, those who contributed to her now see the reality that they were misled over the past months on the issue. My personal opinion has been that her YouTube character has created a cult. At yesterday's RTC meeting several people shouted out to Michael that the lawsuit decision did not prevent choice. Ms. Pizzatola now proves otherwise. President Mulgrew was right!


Finally, hopefully, we will no longer hear this particular falsehood perpetrated and perpetuated as truth. 


Vinny Gaglione


Remember, whenever someone says but, you may disregard whatever precedes it. This person, obviously, is partisan as all get out. Now it turns out the article was inaccurate, he was wrong, and he later had to walk back this nonsense. Still, the arrogance is palpable. Do you believe for one minute this guy is even-handed or neutral?  Do you want a guy whose job depends on loyalty to "President Mulgrew," who created this disaster, representing you when said Mulgrew is acting against your interests?


Here's a simple fact. All of this stems from Mulgrew's boneheaded deal with MLC. They promised 600 million dollar a year savings forever for three stinking years of cost of living raises. That is, obviously,  a terrible deal. Now they want to blame retirees, desperately defending their hard-earned health care, for their colossal screw up. And if that's not enough, now they want to ram this inferior deal down our throats in order to secure a contract at significantly less than half cost of living. 


Seriously, how did our union leaders even graduate high school? They clearly have yet to master basic arithmetic. 


Who knows what's good for members? We do. Who should be making these decisions? We, the members, who will live with them. Not "President Mulgrew," who pays himself triple our salary, along with all sorts of positions in NYSUT, AFT, MLC, and who knows what else. President Mulgrew, though, adamantly denies us a vote on this.


UFT aristocracy now stands up, in front of God and everybody, and suggests that the spread of charter schools and the privatization of education are unacceptable. This, of course, comes after they've successfully brought odious charter leaders to NYC, and even started their own charters. Still, I'm glad they've come around. Better late than never.


Here's a fact--they're absolutely right that school privatization is unacceptable. Further, it's unethical. And so is privatization of health care. It's been a disaster for the United States, and has its roots in racism. And now we support it!


Shame on us if we don't fight it with everything we've got.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Mulgrew Is Doing It Again

Michael Mulgrew doesn't always bother to even feign patience with those who disagree with him. It's the attitude we often see at the DA. Sometimes, Mulgrew announces those people don't believe in democracy. But when Mulgrew himself is about to lose a democratic vote, he rails against it, pulls out all the stops, and manipulates the outcome.

Did he do that to benefit us? Absolutely not. He did it to save money for Eric Adams. His 2018 deal leaves him beholden to our swaggery mayor. Adams is supposed to be our adversary in negotiations, but the President of our union is out there aggressively representing his interests instead of ours.

At a recent meeting with retirees, Mulgrew claimed the push to repeal 12-126 was not about removing the minimum the city was required to spend on health care. But if you examine what it says, and the proposed change, that is precisely what it was about. Mulgrew claimed it was all about giving us choice--the choice to pay for the care we have expected, cost-free, for all our careers.  

Mulgrew then blamed the activists who blocked this for making things worse. You'll be hearing a lot of that. Activists, in fact, were doing what union is supposed to do, what Mulgrew is paid to do--working to improve the lot of working people.

We would not be facing this issue at all had Mulgrew (and the other geniuses on MLC) not sold us out. In 2018, they agreed to grant the city savings in perpetuity so that we could get a raise near cost of living for three years. Call me naive, but cost of living is something we should expect without givebacks. In fact, when there are givebacks, we do not get cost of living, but rather an effective pay cut.

When Mulgrew presented the 2018 health care deal to the Delegate Assembly, he said it was a smart deal to avoid premiums for in-service members. How smart is it to give something forever and get something for three years?

Mulgrew failed to point out that, to achieve this, we'd need to throw retirees under the bus. He said there would be no additional copays, but we all know copays have risen by as much as 100%, and in the case of urgent care, 200% to almost 700%.  Mulgrew told us there would be no extreme changes, but dumping Medicare for every retiree is pretty extreme.

What does he plan for in-service members? My bet is we don't hear about it until after the next contract.

Michael Mulgrew will tell anyone who will listen that this is a fabulous deal, but he said the same thing last year about the previous deal. He said, in fact, that every doctor who took Medicare would accept the last plan he tried to shove down our throats. He then clarified, saying not every doctor who took Medicare would take it. 

Mulgrew now says they've fixed the issues with the previous deal. Given that he's misrepresented this deal at every turn, how can we believe him? And, as Jonathan points out, these issues were not really the problem. The problem was that nobody wanted this deal to begin with

Personally, I remain horrified that our union will not stand and support the NY Health Act, which would resolve this issue not only for us, but also for everyone else in our state. It's the job of a union to set an example, and raise standards for working people.  Instead, our union essentially says we have ours and the rest of you can go to hell.

If Mulgrew believed in democracy, he'd let the retirees vote on it. This notwithstanding, this plan is not the same as Medicare. Aside from the remaining preapprovals, aside from the newly-imposed copays, and aside from the diminished choices of doctors, the fact is Mulgrew's elite and privileged colleagues don't believe it is good enough for them.

At the City Council hearing, retired UFT officials testified that this program was not good enough for them. They needed the option of traditional Medicare. These folks were sent by UFT to testify, in a extreme minority, that we needed to amend 12-126 to allow the city to pay less by charging us for services. Mulgrew's wealthy, entitled BFFs need something better.

Here's something UFT aristocracy seems not to understand--we lowly teachers are just as human as they are, even if we don't receive inflated salaries and double pensions. We get sick just like they do. We need good doctors just like they do. A few weeks ago, this plan wasn't good enough for retired officials, or a cancer patient they sent to testify.

All of us can get cancer, and all of us can get just as sick as UFT employees, present, past or future. If it's not good enough for them, it's not good enough for any of us. So here's the thing--were these people lying then when they said Advantage wasn't good enough? Or is Mulgrew lying now when he says it is?

Are you ready to support Mulgrew, roll the dice and hope he isn't lying this time? If not, consider donating to NYC Retirees, who are ready and willing to take this back to court. I did so yesterday.

Friday, March 03, 2023

Mike Mulgrew Writes a Letter to Retirees

Mulgrew wrote to retirees today about the Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan. Or Mulgrew and Tom Murphy did. Or someone did, and put Murphy and Mulgrew’s names on top.*

 An Overview

It has been a long road of intense, hard-fought negotiations. This is largely due to you goddamn retirees dragging our asses to court all the time. Well, we're gonna steamroll right over you, because we don't want in-service members to squawk when we raise their copays and reduce their benefits. 

If you had any brains you'd have gotten cushy gigs sitting around 52 Broadway doing Whatever. Too late for that. As you know, those of us making triple your meager wages and getting two pensions can afford any damn thing we like, including standard Medicare with all the fees you'll now be stuck with, so what the hell do we care?

We have said from the beginning that any new premium-free health plan must be as good as or better than GHI Senior Care, and some of you even believed us! While that’s never gonna happen, today Aetna gave the city and the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) a comprehensive overview of what we’re gonna vote yes for, no matter what.

Our commitment to you includes keeping track of every aspect of the plan going forward and contending it's as good as the standard Medicare you all know and love. Whenever Aetna commits an atrocity, we pledge to do all we can to keep it from you. We were able to secure systems for monitoring and evaluating noisy retirees, and we also developed procedures for suppressing member concerns. We are committed to ensuring our members continue to get whatever we give them, while cutting the budget a relatively insignificant amount for Mayor Adams.

We are aware of and monitoring ongoing lawsuits on health care, but we made a deal in 2018 to save the city money so we support  the city continuing to move forward with a Medicare Advantage plan. The 100-plus unions in the MLC will vote on the proposed plan next week. Some will vote no, but screw them. When UFT and DC37 leaders rubber stamp the plan with no input from you, it will take effect on Sept. 1, 2023. 

Keeping Your Doctors

The proposed plan is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan built specifically to give members the best choice they can get for the pittance we’re spending. Our retirees will have access to Aetna’s network of more than 1.2 million providers and 4,900 hospitals nationwide. They will decide what you need, within the parameters of their budget, and make big bucks for CVS to continue printing out yard-long receipts. Most importantly, this proposed plan allows you to continue to see the doctors you know and trust.  Maybe.

At this moment, we know that 96% of doctors who take GHI Senior Care are already either in Aetna’s network or accept payment from Aetna. Too bad for the other four percent. You are shit outta luck.
And if you live outside the NYC area or Florida, you’re screwed because no worthwhile doctor will have even heard of this plan. 

Prior Authorization

We heard you loud and clear about your concerns about prior authorization. Just like last time, we chose to ignore them. Aetna denies twice as many procedures as other providers.

Only a limited list of services requiring prior authorization remain, such as acute long-term care, acute hospital inpatient care (not ER), acute physical rehabilitation, admission to a skilled nursing facility and home care services. And hey, you’re never gonna need any of that stuff.

But if you do, tough noogies.

New Benefits

You will now have copays! The rump retirees went to court to stop them, but we're bringing them back!
An annual out-of-pocket maximum — the most you have to pay for covered services (including deductibles and copays but not prescription drugs) — of $1,500. Once you reach that maximum, you will not have any more out-of-pocket costs for the year. That's only 1500 more than zero!
No copays for many common services including primary care visits, radiation therapy, ambulances, durable medical equipment and Medicare Part B generic drugs. If Aetna deems them uncommon, too bad, pal.
No copays for routine hearing and vision exams, unless Aetna says they aren’t routine. Then, you know, screw you and the 1992 Hyundai you rode in on.
New Joe Namath-style services at no cost including:
Hearing aid reimbursement
Transportation to doctor's appointments
Delivered meals post-hospital stay
An over-the-counter allowance for wellness products

No disruption in your care or medical supply

Aetna has committed to us that there will be no interruption in your ongoing or complex care that goes beyond September 2023. And we believe everything they say, because they're a great company, Just ask the slaveowners who insured their human chattel with them.

Aetna will also ensure a seamless transition from ExpressScripts to its Medicare Rx administered by SilverScript. So if you like Express Scripts, too bad for you. We're all about choices and making them for you whether you like it or not.

Aetna also has a dedicated hotline ready to assist with any questions you may have. You will be able to sit on hold  and wait until they direct you to CVS, which owns them, us, and now, you.

Keeping You Informed

Again, what Aetna presented today was its proposed plan, which the MLC will vote on next week. We will vote yes no matter what the frigging thing actually says.

If you have not already registered, we urge you to attend the upcoming RTC membership meeting, either virtually or in person, on Monday, March 6, so you can hear the facts about the plan and get answers to your questions. But if you’re a troublemaker or rabble-rouser, stay home because we’ll mute, insult and ignore you anyway.

That will be all, dues-payers.

*Introductory note from Jonathan Halabi

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Sue Me Too

Around the blogs I'm reading that a fancy law firm, hired at great expense by our leadership, with our dues money, is threatening to sue union members for using the UFT insignia. I just want in on the action. So go ahead. Sue MORE. Sue James. Sue Norm. 

 But please don't forget me.  Subpoena me, coach.

Think of how it looks for a union leadership to sue members for using their own insignia, trademarked with our dues money. It looks pretty bad.

What looks worse?

A union leadership that works hand in hand with management against the interests of its members.

I will soon have chapter and verse on that. 

You're welcome.