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Casualties, Central States, and Stabilization

June 17, 2021 am30 11:16 am

When I was a kid I heard the news. It seemed like it was always on. I understood lots of words, but not all of them, not close to all of them.

Part I

I think I was 5 or 6 when my mom showed me Viet Nam on the globe. Cool. And why when it was day there it was night here. I remember where we sat, and I remember that sun beam…

Expressways of Vietnam - Wikipedia

I’m not sure if that was a separate conversation, or if she was deflecting. Because I knew from the news that Viet Nam was a place. And I knew it had really cool low-numbered highways. Highway 1. Highway 9. Highway 13. Not the awkward Eye-91 and Eye-95 that we had. And I knew that there were lots of things along those highways. The news said. But I did not know what these things – “casualties” – were. I must have asked. And I may have gotten a distracting lesson on the rotation of our planet instead.

Part II

I recall hearing about teamsters. I didn’t know what a teacher was. I didn’t know what a pension fund was, but I knew that ‘fund’ meant there was money. Central States! That was cool. I knew every state on the map. Some states came in groups. My state was part of New England, though that was just a name, and didn’t really mean we were connected to England. I had heard of the Midwest, though I’m not sure I knew what states were in it. Iowa? Pennsylvania? Ohio? I’d have to wait to be an adult to be truly confused about that one. But “Central States” – that was new to me. Again, the cool short name. Central. Which were in the center?

Even when I was a bit older, and learned about Jimmy Hoffa, I didn’t really understand. Turns out that the employers contributed to a big pension fund, but did not administer it, and that gangsters used influence in the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters – “teamster” is someone who drives a team of horses – like a horse drawn wagon, and later since it’s the same job really, who drives a truck) – gangsters used influence in the IBT to “gain control” over the Central States Pension Fund. I still don’t know exactly what the mechanism was, or how much control. The Times has us afraid of mobsters. It’s the accountants who will kill us.

Part III

Today I hear a lot about a “Stabilization Fund.” Stable is a cool word. I don’t like when things that affect us are in crazy flux. Stable is good, right?

Retirees get some reimbursements from this fund, so it makes them more stable? Is that where the name comes from? (answer – no)

The City (I think it is just the City, New York City) contributes money into a Stabilization Fund. I do not know who administers the Fund. Do the municipal unions, including the UFT, administer this fund? Money from the Fund is used to reimburse retirees for some of the costs not covered by Medicare. Do I have that right?

When Mulgrew and de Blasio talk about “health care cost savings” I know they are not talking about savings for you – or for me. “Health Care Savings” is when I pay more, or a procedure is not covered, or a doctor is no longer in network.

When we lose health care, or doctors or procedures, that’s “Health Care Loss” for members but Mulgrew / deBlas call it “Health Care Savings.”

Who is saving that money that we, members, are losing? Is it the “Stabilization Fund”?

Who works in the Stabilization Fund? Is it a source of patronage jobs?

I want some answers. About Stabilization, not celestial mechanics.

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