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Transit union enshrines right to Medicare


A union representing transit workers has approved a new amendment to their constitution that would bar the union from bargaining away retirees’ traditional Medicare coverage.

Members of the Transit Supervisors Organization/Transport Workers Union Local 106 voted Tuesday to approve revisions to the union’s constitution and by-laws that prohibit the local from bargaining to terminate traditional Medicare unless the members vote in favor of doing so.

“Traditional Medicare and Retiree Medical Benefits cannot be eliminated through bargaining for current retirees unless a General Membership meeting was called for this purpose with 50 [percent] of the ACTUAL membership in attendance and a two-thirds vote of the members voting to affirm the change,” the new article states.

The local represents about 1,400 Level 2 station supervisors, maintenance line supervisors and other MTA employees.

The union’s president, Philip Valenti, said that he came up with the idea to add language to the constitution protecting the members’ Medicare. “We saw a trend management and other unions were going down and we didn’t want to go in that direction,” he said during a recent phone interview. “We were looking to protect ourselves from Medicare being eliminated.”

As part of a three-year contract deal reached last year, the MTA and TWU Local 100 agreed to switch retiree health care from Medicare to a privately administered Medicare Advantage program. TWU Local 100 retirees, like those other retired city civil servants, have fought against the plan. 

First of its kind?

Although the Local 100 pact does not cover Local 106 members, the additions to the constitution would safeguard Local 106 retirees from similar changes being made to their health care. 

Valenti noted that the MTA “has stressed to me that Medicare Advantage is a really good thing, and I respect that, but I’m not willing to take a chance.” 

He believed that the new bylaw was the first of its kind. The union leader added that the change would hopefully benefit not just retirees but active members as well, particularly those set to retire in the coming years. “I have 32 years on the job, I’m going to be 57 next month,” he said, adding that he wasn’t planning to retire yet. “No one wants to worry about retiring and having your health care pulled out from under you.”

The members voted unanimously to ratify the new contract language. They also passed another amendment preventing the union from eliminating the new article unless the local holds a membership meeting where at least 50 percent of members attend and two-thirds of members vote in favor of removing the language.

“They’re tied together. It’s possible [to change the contract language], but it’s a high bar,” Valenti explained. He said of the constitutional changes, "I think it was a good step in the right direction."

Marianne Pizzitola, the president of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, which has been leading the fight against the city’s plan to switch 250,000 retired municipal workers health care coverage to Medicare Advantage, applauded the move.  She said she had not heard of any other unions' constitutions containing similar language around Medicare.

“I am proud to see a union uniting to protect themselves and their retirees. Labor has value! And it should never be diminished,” she said. “This is something to be proud of and support.”

Last month, a State Supreme Court Appellate Division panel upheld a Manhattan Supreme Court ruling that found that the city could not eliminate retired municipal workers’ long-promised Medicare coverage in favor of a cost-saving Medicare Advantage plan.


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    Kudos to them to be able to protect retirees earned and promised healthcare. I wish all the Unions would follow.When is the City going to stop wasting taxpayer money trying to strip NYC Medicare Retirees in the courts of the their earned healthcare.Worst anti-union betrayal in labor history ever. Plus unions are using dues to fight their own retired members in court.The unions also support politicians who will not protect their own retirees.


    Friday, June 14 Report this

  • Kate8475

    Great decision!

    Friday, June 14 Report this