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My First UFT Retired Teachers Chapter Meeting

March 6, 2023 pm31 12:55 pm

This will be my first meeting as a United Federation of Teachers retiree, this afternoon. I have been working on being a good retiree – attending workshops – learning about benefits. I joined the RTC. I paid for SHIP. Asked questions about orthotics and dental. I even thought I’d sign up for a Si Beagle trip, but missed the deadline. (And I wish they had some math and science). I’m waiting patiently for TRS to calculate my check, and not freaking out about the underestimate they are sending for now. And I’m looking forward to eventually getting partial payout for my CAR days. But…

But 1. But I can’t be in person today. That sucks. I want to actually see people. But this morning I had a test, and this afternoon I will have another one, out in Queens, and no way to get into 52 Broadway in between. I’ll join on the computer instead. Next time I will absolutely attend in person.

But 2. This will be no ordinary RTC. Mulgrew will be announcing and explaining the Medicare Advantage plan that the MLC, UFT, and OLR (office of labor relations, the City agency we deal with) have agreed to with Aetna. Their intended timeline is to vote on the agreement at the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) in a few days, and shift most of our Medicare-eligible retirees into the plan September 1.

Most retirees are not very unhappy about their current plan. Most retirees, understandably, worry about change. Most retirees, justifiably, have serious qualms about ANY Medicare Advantage (privatized health care) plan.

So we have a leadership that’s decided to change retiree’s health care. And retirees, who for the most part do not want their health care to change.

Ingredients for an interesting meeting.

Alternate Reality

Mulgrew gets up. Says Medicare Advantage is not as good as what we have. But we are in grave financial difficulty. If we switch to Medicare Advantage, the feds will give the City more money, and the City promises to replenish the stabilization fund. We are in a jam, and this is the only way out. So we spent time trying to mitigate the problems. We went after some specifically challenging details, including the number of prior authorizations, and how widely doctors would accept this, and made real progress. This is much better than the first deal we negotiated. But it is not as good as what we have now. We get it. This is a hit we have to take in order to keep something close to the healthcare we are used to and entitled to. This is not fair. We know that. But in the circumstances it was the best we could do.


Mulgrew will get up and imply that this deal is better than what retirees have now. He will lie (by omission or implication).


Look, I don’t know how understanding retirees would be with the Alternate Reality. But I guarantee you that there will be real unhappiness over the Reality. Think about it. He could deliver bad news. Or he could deliver bad news and lie about it. Which way would play better?

Me? I don’t know that I would be convinced by that Alternate Reality. I don’t think so. But it would make it possible to have a conversation. That’s just not the case when you open by insulting your members’ intelligence.


There’s a lot of them. They belong to the discussion. But not here.


There are six months until September. The Aetna agreement is not finalized. And this affects retirees, big time. Pension and Health Care are the two biggest retiree issues. Retirees should be asked to vote. The MLC vote can be delayed (as we’ve seen multiple times over the last two years).


For a UFT Retired Teachers Chapter Vote on the Proposed Health Benefit Changes

Whereas there is nothing so important to United Federation of Teachers retirees as our pension and healthcare, and

Whereas there is a proposal to significantly change our retirees’ healthcare, moving most of our retirees to an Aetna/CVS PPO Medicare Advantage plan, and

Whereas the proposal would eliminate all traditional Medicare supplemental plans from the NYC Health Benefits Program (such as GHI Senior Care), and

Whereas the proposal would end all NYC subsidies and reimbursements to municipal retirees who choose to, or need to, stay on a traditional Medicare + supplemental plan, and

Whereas a vote will be taken to make this move to an Aetna/CVS PPO Medicare Advantage plan at the Municipal Labor Committee, and

Whereas the votes will be weighted votes, and the UFT has one of the largest weighted votes in the MLC, and

Whereas the UFT is in concept and design a democratic organization, therefore be it

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will conduct a secret ballot vote among the UFT Retired Teacher Chapter, in favor of or opposed to the move to this Aetna/CVS PPO Medicare Advantage plan, and be it further

Resolved that the UFT representatives at the MLC will not cast their votes until the result of the RTC vote is announced, and be it further

Resolved that the UFT representatives at the MLC, when the result of the retiree vote is announced, will faithfully vote in accordance with the wishes of our retirees.


Who knows? I’ve never been to a Retired Teachers Chapter meeting. But I can’t imagine Mulgrew allowing the issue of voting to come up. What’s he going to do? Say this decision really should not be in the hands of retirees? I can’t see him addressing the question, since it is lose/lose.

And after that?

I really do look forward coming to the RTC in person. To talking to people. Catching up. Maybe next month, when I make it in person, there won’t be such a hot burning issue in front of us, and there will be more time to relax.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 6, 2023 pm31 2:52 pm 2:52 pm

    Great post. I honestly don’t feel that the UFT will survive another 5-7 years with Mulgrew at its head. Soon he’ll take voting privileges away from retirees and hope that working teachers will elect him, as he is trading the retirees rights away for them – who knows it may work. I feel sad about the whole thing. I stopped paying dues when I retired, and it still bothers me. I was hoping to rejoin, but it’s pointless. I’m actually thinking of leaving the country altogether – every organization that I once trusted has betrayed me and I don’t trust any of them any longer. Most Americans, and definitely Uft members feel completely powerless.

    • March 8, 2023 pm31 10:36 pm 10:36 pm

      I paid dues. I guess I’ll be voting for Retiree Advocate in the next election.

    March 7, 2023 pm31 1:16 pm 1:16 pm

    It’s such a shame what Mulgrew has done to the UFT. Al Shanker and Sandy Feldman are rolling over in their graves. Randy sold us put a little. Mulgrew sold us out big time in ways that we will never recover from.
    In addition, during my tenure I slowly saw the access to information dwindle. When I started, chapter chairs were well informed and always bringing in guest speakers on the contract, Pension, TDA etc. Towards the end of my career, since Mulgrew took over, there were little to none of those and I knew way more than most new chapter chairs. So sad when I meet other retirees and they say “I never knew that” relating to things about their own retirement.

    • March 8, 2023 pm31 10:39 pm 10:39 pm

      Some of the change depends on the school. I was CL for 20 years, always brought in speakers, shared information. But overall, I think you are right – less information is disseminated. CLs have obligations to members, and DRs to CLs – at least that’s how it should be, in theory. But Unity has centralized control of DRs, and that’s really disrupted that very important link.

  3. March 7, 2023 pm31 5:58 pm 5:58 pm

    Very sad to contemplate the truth is only possible under an alternate reality.

    • March 8, 2023 pm31 10:40 pm 10:40 pm

      Sadder, that alternate reality, it’s still a sales pitch for medicare advantage – it’s just a more honest one, that would allow for conversation. Instead he opens with how wonderful it is, and it’s downhill from there.

    March 8, 2023 pm31 10:58 pm 10:58 pm

    The only thing we can really hope for is that perhaps FINALLY enough people will realize how MM has screwed everyone over and get him the heck out in two years. But again, no one will ever be able to undo the damage he has done

  5. Anonymous permalink
    March 12, 2023 pm31 8:57 pm 8:57 pm

    Tried to get the form to stop paying retiree dues. The RTC has ignored my request b

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