Wall Street Loves Mulgrew
Health care cuts for us mean fewer taxes for them.
The Citizens’ Budget Commission, a financial watchdog group full of Wall St. and banker types, adored our 2014 contract. They love saving money for the city, and even more, they love not having to pay more in taxes to support it. In case you’re wondering just what sort of people support this group, take a gander at what it costs to attend their annual gala. Evidently, our great buddy Bloomberg is a sponsor. Our good friend Merryl Tisch is on their board.
The people in this organization don’t mind having obscenely expensive parties, but they don’t much like it when the city fritters away money on people who actually have to work for a living. They wrote a very interesting letter in the wake of our 2014 contract. They congratulated Robert Linn, the Commissioner of the Office of Labor Relations, on its ratification.
Now, back then, UFT could have simply demanded the double four percent raises FDNY and NYPD got, and insisted the city follow the pattern bargaining that’s dominated city contracts forever. But the one we agreed upon greatly pleased the CBC.
The UFT contract is innovative, covering nine years and providing much needed predictability for the City's Financial Plan.
While the CBC saw the benefits of this innovation, members were not quite so fortunate. Financial genius Michael Mulgrew thought it would be a great idea if we funded our own raises. The fact is, though, after the double fours we delayed another five years, the raises he negotiated were pretty paltry (and disgracefully, we inflicted them on every one of our brother and sister unions).
1 percent — 1 percent —$1,000 cash (and no raise) — 1 percent — 1.5 percent —2.5 percent — 3 percent
What’s “innovative” to CBC is hell on working people trying to keep up with inflation. For CBC, though, it was affordable. After all, it had no negative effect on the gazillions they were bringing in, and no extra expenses to fritter away on the bootless and unhorsed (That would be us). With the money they saved on potential taxes, maybe they could buy a hundred $25,000 gala tickets for their loved ones, instead of relegating them to the basic $2,000 ones. (Perhaps those come with a cap on caviar consumption.)
You’d think they’d be grateful when Mulgrew and his BFFs on the Municipal Labor Committee took our 1.8 billion Health Stabilization Fund and turned over a billion dollars to the city. You’d be mistaken.
Additional funding taken from the Health Insurance Stabilization Fund beyond the $1billion already agreed upon should not count as savings. It does nothing to make the delivery of health care more efficient and is not recurrent.
A billion is a nice gesture, but honestly, you can’t even buy a decent block in Manhattan for that price anymore. And we have expenses. Gala tickets don’t grow on trees, you know.
The basic principle for defining qualifying savings should be that they are recurring and of a nature that truly "bends the curve" in health care costs by making the system operate more efficiently. This means savings that lead directly to reductions in per person or per family premium costs.
This means the city should be spending less money on you and me, in case that’s not clear. We can have all the care we want, as long as we pay for it ourselves. That’s why co-pays have exploded in recent years, and that’s a trend we can expect to continue.
So they demanded recurring savings, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew was all ears. We know that Mulgrew was the source of all these innovations. Could the CBC reward him with a lucrative no-show gig after he ditches all this union stuff? He’s certainly earned it. And where does the idea of dumping retirees into “Advantage” plans come from?
A significant source of potential savings may be possible through changing the status or eligibility of retirees, for example, by moving some or all from City plans to those available on the New York State Health Exchange with federal subsidies
You’d think Mulgrew was working for them instead of us. You’d be right too. Mulgrew got right onto screwing retirees with an inferior health plan, and he didn’t waste a moment finding them the “recurring” savings they needed. After all, God forbid rich people should pay their fair share in taxes. Rich people are delicate. If you touch them, they might break.
By 2018, in exchange for a three year contract at or near cost of living, Mulgrew and his fellow MLC pals were promising the city 600 million dollars a year, in perpetuity. Do you think unions should be required to fund their own raises? I don’t. I think it’s the obligation of the city to compensate workers to keep up with cost of living.
CBC, of course, wants us to pay premiums. Mulgrew has avoided them so far by raising co-pays so much that it’s prohibitive for many city workers to visit urgent care facilities or emergency rooms. So under Mulgrewcare, so far, only those folks who actually get sick have to pay higher rates. Whether or not it comes with a premium, I fully expect this trend to continue with whatever plan he inflicts upon in-service members later this year.
As for CBC, my sympathy is limited. Budget issues? Potential expenses for city residents who can actually afford to pay them? Sorry, but I don’t much care. We are the people who keep the city running, and it’s the city’s obligation to compensate us. (Wouldn’t it be great to have union leaders who felt that way?) Sell Manhattan Island if you have to.
Alternatively, you could tax the rich people who want to cut our health care. Sure, they might have to buy lower-priced gala tickets. Sure, some might have to fly first class, instead of chartering a private aircraft. Some might have to cut down to three yachts, instead of five. Maybe Mike Bloomberg could get by with one fewer ballroom in his Bermuda mansion.
I don’t know about you, but those are sacrifices I’d be willing to make to preserve health care for city workers. Those who can most afford taxes ought to pay more. City workers should be able to get all the health care they need, without worrying about the cost, just like penthouse dwellers who pose as financial watchdogs.
Thanks to Daniel Alicea.