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Shady Unity Health Care Changes – from 2014

March 30, 2022 pm31 11:39 pm

In the 2014 Contract – the current story goes – we voted for health care savings (generally cuts) to pay for raises. Many stories have a lot of truth, mixed with some story-telling. This one is not an exception.

In the Spring of 2014 I sat on the Negotiating Committee. A contract proposal came to us May 1. It included a mix of slightly good, kind of bad, and overall unimpressive changes. But health care? There was a line about a huge (in the $billions) savings, but no details.

May 5 the UFT Executive Board met. We had a huge question and answer session. But there was no Memorandum of Agreement. They claimed that it was 50 pages long and they were checking it for grammatical errors. And none of the details about where the health care savings were coming from were forthcoming. And then the Exec Board (minus New Action) voted to send the agreement to the Delegate Assembly.

I’ve written this before. I’ll write it again, I’m afraid. But we should have time to read something before we vote to approve it. When Unity rushes us to approve without reading, that’s a warning. And when they claim they can’t share the agreement because they are searching for grammatical errors…

They did issue a document. It included info about pay, and about educational issues. Know what they left out? Health care.

They called a special contract ratification Delegate Assembly. For March 7. They were in a special sort of rush.

It was a lousy Delegate Assembly. Because members had not had time to read the agreement, there were not good questions. And there were only a few minutes of them. There were still no real answers on healthcare, except for Mulgrew and Artie Pepper vowing up and down that members would not pay, that savings would be found administratively. And debate was brief – Unity loyalists argued for a yes vote.

In a hint of things to come, the vote was to “send and recommend” the contract to the membership. “Send and recommend” means that the union would allow the members to discuss the contract (send) but would push for them to vote yes (recommend). But at the DA Mulgrew kept saying “send” “send” “send” so that delegates would think they were giving members a choice, not a bum’s rush.

When they ask Delegates to vote, and it is not clear what they are voting on, and no one has read the agreement, just listened to a one hour infomercial followed by some shouting… When you see Unity rushing people to vote without thinking, reading, discussing… You know what that means….

Below I have links to all my posts from that month. (Reverse chronological order – if you read them, start at the bottom)

But what’s missing? There’s no discussion of retirees. There’s nothing in my writing, nothing in what Mulgrew claimed, that made me think about the effect on retirees. And while I was considering the balance of give backs and improvements, I never thought “health care cuts (savings) are being used to fund our raises”…

The truth of what Unity was doing to us, and to our future selves, was hidden in plain sight. Or would have been, if they had printed it.

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