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Mulgrew's Caucus Cheats, Lies, and Disrespects Us
Patronage above all else, including your health
There are always complications with one-issue groups. For example, I am a great supporter of NYC Retirees, who fight tirelessly to protect our health care. They endorse City Council’s Vicki Paladino, someone I’d never vote for. Paladino, though, has taken a stand to defend our health care. You may question her motivations. I may too, but there you have it.
Here’s the thing—UFT bosses, like Mulgrew and people at every level of his UFT Unity caucus, are also a one-issue group. Their issue is retaining power by any means whatsoever, and their most precious possession is the patronage mill they run. If you’ve ever called UFT and got bad info, if you’ve ever gone to a retirement consult and gotten the old song and dance, you know firsthand that UFT hirees are selected for loyalty rather than talent.
Now I’m not saying all UFT hirees are inept. I know great people working for UFT. I also know people, though, who care nothing about anyone but themselves. They tirelessly lick Mulgrew’s boots hoping to get ahead. Often, they do. And when Mulgrew steps down, they’ll eagerly seek out new boots to lick.
UFT Delegate Assemby has, in fact, endorsed the New York Health Act. I hear, in fact, we’ve done so twice. Michael Mulgrew and his fellow Unity bosses have decided to oppose it anyway. Mulgrew says the DA is our most powerful deliberative body, but he and the other Unity bosses do Whatever They Want.
NYHA would bring low cost health care to everyone in our state. In order to court union support, its sponsors have adjusted it. 80% of costs would now be shouldered by public employers, drastically reducing what members would have to pay out of pocket. It now appears that public unions are the main obstacle to NYHA.
Here’s the thing—there’s that UFT Welfare Fund, chock full of patronage employees. Were their jobs to disappear, there’d be far fewer people beholden to UFT Unity. That would make it harder for the union bosses to maintain their stranglehold over us. In fact, Unity could perhaps have avoided the ongoing battle with the retirees if they’d agreed to consolidate city welfare funds. It appears Mulgrew and his fellow union bosses would rather diminish health care for retirees than lose a few patronage gigs.
UFT’s bosses, all members of the Unity Caucus, can’t bear even to be questioned. Mulgrew is openly abusive to those who question the party line at the DA. I’ve seen him turn off microphones and accuse people of opposing democracy. According to Nick Bacon’s UFT Executive Board notes, Unity bosses now oppose the time limits at PEP meetings. Yet they themselves set time limits for questions at Exec. Board because their thin skins can’t tolerate dissent. They are one-issue hypocrites.
Also, they are liars. They said at this meeting there was no new info on the changes they wish to enact to in-service health care. However, here’s a recording in which one of UFT’s Strook lawyers (the ones
they we pay to threaten active members) say it is down to two providers, United/Emblem and Aetna. He also, toward the end says they’re considering “a bit of a premium.”
That’s a little bit more than nothing, isn’t it? Why is it such a big secret that they’ve now narrowed their list of companies willing to provide active members health care for 10% less than the city now pays? Why won’t they tell us they’re now looking at premiums? Why won’t they reveal what on earth is entailed in those plans?
It’s unlikely to be because those plans are so wonderful they can’t wait to surprise us with them. Mulgrew misrepresented the plan to dump retirees into Advantage, claiming all doctors who took Medicare would accept it. Why would we expect any different for in-service members?
Mulgrew and the other UFT Unity bosses are stuck in a boneheaded deal they made to save Eric Adams money on health care. With copays (and perhaps soon premiums) exploding on a regular basis, we can expect this trend to continue even more as the city pays less.
We need leadership that respects us enough to tell us the truth. We need leadership that respects decisions of our Delegate Assembly, even if they don’t like them. And we really, really need membership that votes at a rate way higher than 20%. That is how we will put in place union leaders who represent us, rather than union bosses who do whatever they golly gosh darn feel like.
Don’t forget to vote. And don’t forget to select leaders rather than bosses.