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Stop Contracting Out / Against Privatization

January 10, 2022 am31 12:08 am

These words have special meaning within the UFT, today.

It’s a good position in general. It can be a good slogan. But we can get specific.

In fact, “we” have. The United for Change coalition adopted this platform plank:

No Corporate Interests in Education and Healthcare: We will fight to remove private greed from our profession, our livelihood, and our schools. 

  • Reverse privatization of Medicare for NYC municipal retirees. No in-service healthcare givebacks. Support single payer public healthcare. 
  • Rescind mandatory HMO enrollment for new UFT members. Bring back choice. 
  • End high-stakes testing. Replace with fairer forms of student assessment.
  • Fight the privatization of public education. Reverse the  spread  of charter schools in public education.

I’m going to write, just a little bit, about each of these four points. But not in order. And then I’m going to write about a fifth point that could have been included, about a major NYC organization that has contracted out work, while laying off workers.

Charters

The number one privatization scheme in local education in NYC today are charter schools. 90% anti-union. High turnover. Sucking public money into corporate pockets. We need a leadership that opposes their proliferation – that stands up for public education – that stops the give away of public school resources – AND PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS – to private interests. And not some of the time – all of the time. Enough backroom politics around raising or maintaining the cap, tying charters to other bills or deals. It’s going to be hard to make up all the ground we lost under Unity leadership – Weingarten and Mulgrew allowed almost 300 charter schools to open and siphon almost 15% of students out of the public school system. We need new leadership to stop and reverse this destruction of public education, to get these corporations and anti-union profiteers out of NYC.

Medicare

Hands off Medicare! I guess I’m shouting at my union leadership. Public health care for seniors – good idea, right? This year Mulgrew rolled out a privatized version – Medicare Advantage Plus. Seniors are now going to be forced to make hard decisions (and they should pick what works best for them). But the politics here are clear – move forward towards single payer, stay still, or move backwards to privatization. Mulgrew and what some are calling MulgrewCare are big steps backwards. There is a proposal for single payer in New York State, the New York Health Act. It needs work – work that the unions should be engaging in. Instead Mulgrew is bringing more private interests into our healthcare. And Mulgrew is working to kill single payer, the NYHA. New leadership is needed to fix the bill, and get corporate interests out of our health care. Who wants a clerk in Idaho deciding if your colonoscopy is covered? And has an insurance company ever delivered a baby, removed a growth, treated an infection? Let’s focus on not lining corporate pockets, but on getting our members and retirees the health care they deserve.

Mandatory HMO Enrollment?

Bet you didn’t know, new teachers, that back in the day, like a few years ago, new teachers could choose their health plan? Seriously, we didn’t all start in HIP.

Bet you didn’t know, senior teachers (those hired before 2019) that all new teachers have to join an HMO, HIP. They don’t get a choice of what plan to start in. The next year they can switch.

Bet you didn’t know, all teachers, that Mulgrew is flirting with the idea of making it so new hires have to start in HIP HMO, and have to stay there for FIVE years. Seriously – I was on a zoom with Florida retirees, and that’s exactly what he said.

So we could ask Mulgrew to change the policy. Or we could ask the members to change the president. Which do you think would work better?

High-Stakes Testing

I don’t want to write much about this now. There are so many problems with high stakes testing. Profits are just one small part of the problem. But they are real – the corporate profits (massive) from the tests themselves, from the test prep, from the curricular materials designed to meet the distorted curricula… Big money, that we should get out of education (not just for reason of de-privatization). Anyhow, here’s stuff I wrote about one profiteer that’s got to go.

One more

When talking about privatizing and corporate greed we’ve looked at medicare, and charters, the College Board, and an HMO. None of those are surprises.

But it turns out that the UFT’s hated “concierge” telephone service – the thing that stops me from reaching offices in a normal way, and that leaves my members on long holds – and that makes everybody answer Big Data questions before proceeding to someone who can answer a question – that union call center is not one. It’s not a union call center.

There’s also the issue of having to call a call center. It’s like calling the cable company, but worse. Members deserve better from their union.

Norm Scott uncovered the secret. Mulgrew fired the retired UFT members who were answering the phones, and contracted the work out. Those are no longer UFTers you are talking to, wasting your time. Go read his first piece, The Face of the UFT is Salesforce, and then his follow up, Workers Sue UFT over being replaced by Salesforce. It’s a real story.

And I’m going to ask UfC if we can add:

  • Fight the privatization of UFT member services. Hire retired teachers.

to our platform.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sally Beane permalink
    January 15, 2022 pm31 2:19 pm 2:19 pm

    Thank you for writing this.

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