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The city and the MLC are selling false promises


There is no "savings" to be found  by forcing retirees into Medicare Advantage because no money was going back to the taxpayers, as affirmed by the Independent Budget Office. The Municipal Labor Committee’s Medicare privatization scheme literally sold off  Medicare retiree health benefits to finance in-service workers and non-Medicare eligible health-care premiums.

Medicare eligible retirees are senior citizens, the disabled, 9/11 responders and widows/widowers, your most vulnerable. In exchange for giving back to the city, the Medicare plan that pays only 20 percent of medical bills, the MLC was to receive the value earmarked for the Joint Health Stabilization Fund, which has been used like a slush fund by both the MLC and past mayors. 

The real cost would be to the lives of those who experience harm or die from not having access to their doctors or treatment. We don’t need a maximum out-of-pocket cap in traditional Medicare — we had few expenses. Other “perks” highlighted by the city are a trade-off to access to care. More and more doctors and hospitals refuse to accept Medicare Advantage (MA). Retirees in continuing care residential communities will experience denials when prior authorization is needed for hospitalization, skilled nursing or rehab. This is not a savings.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of  the United Federation of Teachers, recently withdrew his support for MA, but only after his retirees and para caucuses lost their elections last month two to one. Mulgrew orchestrated this MA scheme to fund his contract and stabilization fund then blamed the city for “bad lawyering" after the ninth court loss for the city’s scheme and withdrew, leaving the other unions to wallow in the hole he dug with his colleague at District Council 37, Henry Garrido. The UFT attorney (who is also the MLC attorney) filed an amicus brief against retirees taking the side of the City.  Did Mulgrew forget his lawyer appeared in court sharing notes with city officials? Clearly, there was collaboration.

All the unions within the MLC pay dues, which are used to fight against themselves and the retirees — through that MLC-funded amicus! 

Mulgrew and Garrido need to take ownership of the mess they set into motion, led 100 unions down this hole, sold the false premise that MA mirrors traditional Medicare, and urged them to believe everything the retirees and our lawyers said was a lie. They convinced other leaders and elected officials they represented current retirees when under the law, they do not. Historically, the MLC protected retirees; this time they stole from them.

In fact, everything we have said has been true and we have proved it at every turn, in two courts, where 10 judges have agreed, and nine have twice unanimously affirmed lower court findings in favor of the retirees. But the MLC leaders, Garrido, Mulgrew and Chair Harry Nespoli, will have you believe the retirees caused this turmoil and control the narrative when our narrative is just the truth.

The retirees have exposed gaslighting by union leaders. Threats were made to the City Council members by these very union leaders! Now what? Mulgrew has the Moratorium Act to fall back on. That state law protects benefits of retired school district employees from diminishment unless benefits for employees are equally diminished. They are the only ones with that protection.  

Garrido hinted the unions could be subject to an improper practice if they refused to adhere to the MLC agreement because the committee convinced them to roll it into their contracts. If they walk back the deal, they walk into an improper practice.

But what about the MLC Agreements containing no blow-up clause? Blow-up language states how the parties will proceed if the agreement cannot be accomplished. The 2018 MLC agreement only accounted for what they would do if they made too much money, but not if they didn’t make enough! 

The courts declared this scheme illegal. This MLC provision should be voided from the contracts — they made a bad deal that’s been fraught by litigation for three years.  Declare a mulligan. And for Pete's sake, you are union! Your value does not diminish! Stop selling yourselves off for a raise! Tell  the commissioner of Labor Relations, Renee Campion, and the former commissioner, Bob Linn, that the deal, found by the courts to be illegal, is off. Linn negotiated both the 2014 and 2018 agreements. He’s been trying to undo the city statute that provides us our health care benefits since the Koch administration.  

Unions must use the leverage of coalition bargaining to set the contract benchmark as ONE body.  The MLC does not hold a bargaining certificate, but organizing the unions not to accept anything lower than the benchmark as the standard is the way it should be done.  And union leaders, revise the MLC bylaws to get rid of the weighted vote.  Every union large or small has the same value and should have the same vote. If the UFT and DC37 come up with another hair-brained scheme tomorrow, everyone will be in the same hole again. 

Marianne Pizzitola, a retired emergency medical technician, is president of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees and the FDNY EMS Retirees Association.

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3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Hendrix

    The Mayor/Unions should end this anti-union illegal deal that soldout NYC Medicarre Retirees for raises.Enough is enoug how much more taxpayers money is going to be wasted on this healthcare debacle.PS Why hasn't the City Council acted to protect NYC MEDICARE RETIREES?

    Wednesday, July 3 Report this

  • krell1349

    DC37 and the MLC better get with the program and support traditional Medicare rather than Medicare Advantage or they will be voted out..

    Thursday, July 4 Report this

  • harryw

    The hole that Mulgrew dug with his mob boss colleagues is also a financial one.

    Records obtained by the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees

    indicate that the MLC has a funding deficit because of their spending on attorneys among other issues. They drained their cash by paying attorney Alan Klinger, $882,000 in 2022 and $763,000 in 2023 to fight retirees - former members of their own unions.!His previous annual revenue was averaged about $200,000. Their house attorney Harry Greenberg has a $60,000 annual income.

    And don’t get me started on the bags of money paid to “arbitrator” Martin Scheinman on this

    long andhttps://m.youtube.com/channel/UCSwIJQTZpjUq4UIuwhLY0yQ/videos winding road to Medicare Advantage.

    They also tried to pass an MLC dues increase to cover the $700,000 debt they owe to the Segal consulting for the health plans.

    Mulgrew, Nespoli and Garrido should resign!

    Thursday, July 4 Report this