Wednesday, December 15, 2021

UFT Delegate Assembly December 15, 2021--Medicare Advantage, Incoming Admin, Negotiating Committee

Michael Mulgrew--Welcomes us to last DA of year 2021. Wishes everyone happy holidays and good break. 

Federal--NYC getting unprecedented amount of money. BBB program will send money to NYC. Very hopeful we get social safety net package through. Working w Congress and Senators. Housing, homelessness important. 

State--Governor's race in flux. Meetings with NYSUT and state leaders with governor and her staff. Going through transition in NYC. Important people in Albany know what we and other teachers in state need. Recruitment and retention issue upstate, and coming to NYC at larger level. Many left during pandemic. Mandate had effect. Shortage across USA coming to NYC. State challenged by what to do with money. Unprecedented. Needs to be spent wisely. By next DA we'll have State of State and will know more. State right now in middle of redistricting process. Done by State Senate, now under Dem control. Right now primaries scheduled for June. Don't know how they will meet deadline. Need to know districts first. 

Class size--We will keep going. City Council moved last meeting to yesterday. Working with incoming city council and state officials. There is a state bill about class size. Parents want smaller class size. June 30 mayoral control sunsets. We've all had it. Facts and research should matter--not just one person. Doesn't work for us anymore. Needs to go away. Doesn't mean we go back to school boards. Is there something else we might want? Need a strategy to push in Albany. Not yet sure how we will lobby in Albany. Keeping pressure on.

COVID--Increase in cold weather after holidays. Not as high this year, but Christmas and New Year coming. People will visit, congregate. We can see another spike. Schools continue to be lowest place, but we're in transition. Test and trace, situation room becoming shaky. People are leaving. Conversations with both administrations--saying we need to shore up test and trace and situation room. Last year it was happening. Now not working.  Outgoing admin recognizes that one set of workers, pre K, have no access to testing, but have all unvaccinated students. We want them tested, and there is a resolution to do so.

Transitioning Comptroller's office. Even if comptroller is friend of ours, they don't get to tell us what to do with our money. We have trustees who will handle transition.

Chancellor to be--David Banks, has been in system long time. Has had good relationship. Wanted his schools to be public. But making comments about charters and evaluation. Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisburg was in favor of much of this. We try to do the right thing. Welcome with open arms and try to make it work, as CLs try to do. We also look for improvements. I approach this the same way. If it doesn't work out you have to do tough things. We approach every change that way. You can say what you want, we judge by actions. 

Chancellor said he wants to extend school in summer, extend school day. We do school in summer and Saturday already. Can he mandate it? No. But people are willing to do work on extra programs. We already have these things.

Parents Monday night said we love teachers, but challenges beyond anything they've seen before. We want to work on these issues. In terms of this chancellor and mayor, we fight for each other, for people who've dedicated lives to education or health care. We fight for our profession. If they want to fight, we fight. If they want to work with us, we work with them.

Talked about screening. Some screens are appropriate. Students who have an interest in program or study need it. Others ought not to be in place. That is DOE's job, not ours. If there are screens that cream students and deny opportunities, they shouldn't be there.

Workers in NYC--Caz Holloway coming back. Tried to give 20% premiums on health care in NYC. We took him to court and won. He tried to dismantle senior health care. Took him to court and won. Hope we don't have these fights, but we need to prepare.  Transitions are tricky. We will try to work together but must be ready to stand up.

Judge in Medicare Advantage gave decision. Understands implementation is important. I'm not allowed to talk about RFP process. Many people did, and that caused legal challenges. Premise was that every benefit our retirees currently have must be in new plan. Any saving would be used to enhance new benefits. We said unless that was in writing, it wasn't there. Went through it. Process was finally in place we thought it would be.

All sorts of agendas around these things. We knew health care for retirees was target for new admin. Knew they would pit in-service v. retirees. That's why we got involved. We needed to make sure it was right. Was much misinformation and lies, and that's why it ended up in legal process. We saw timelines too short, couldn't be implemented. We were finally able to put together a plan that does all we want, preserves and enhances benefits. Won't work unless implemented properly.

Told MLC we wouldn't support plan pooorly implemented. Wouldn't happen with UFT watching. Needed to go into court and say retirees would be held harmless and would be seamless. Was said in once voice. Judge said plan could begin April 1. Has set series of benchmarks for all to hit. To educate people, doctors, so they understand. Clearly put in no retiree shall be harmed. Very happy judge did this. 

Had to figure how to get plan out of harm's way of next admin and protect it. If you wait, as costs go up, they will come after it. Since we did this, Medicare up 13%. Person who tried to destroy it in position again, but plan is set for five years. Preserves what people have worked for. If the Lord will let me, I plan on being in that plan. Stop with the lies. 

You have to educate people. Of course we hate mayoral control, but we have to be smart about it, have political strategy around it. 

Joe Usach--Assistant Director Welfare Fund--We need to maintain premium free health benefits. We are remaining few who have access to it. Unheard of in this country. We have this through collective bargaining, Paramount to MLC that it remain. Didn't want premiums on retired members, like in other states, Suffolk County. 

What is difference between HMO and PPO? GHI is PPO while HIP is HMO. Both offer access, but HMOs smaller in size. Patient chooses primary care and referrals for specialists. Few co pays. PPOs offer freedom to receive care from anyone, no referrals. In network, copay, out you get scheduled payment. Medicare Advantage unfortunate terms. Many were HMO. Some PPO for larger groups. Can't ditch name or would lose fed subsidies.

Brand new plan. MLC said to city and all prospective carriers. We have plan our members like. Want this on top of existing plan. Empire and Emblem Health both provided access to network, If org has relationship with Empire or Emblem, in network. If they are Medicare provider, out of network, but doctors get exact same Medicare payment. Instead of doctor sending bill to Medicare and waiting for 20%, can put in one claim and get paid in full. Should alleviate anxiety. Members get enhanced benefit.

Plan comes without monthly premium. Basic health care premium free. Drug benefit 125 a month, less than they currently pay. Members get 65 back a month. 

Differences criticized. Prior authorizations--Some required. If you are on city plan, you're familiar with it. Insurance companies used to get paid to deny services. Now they want to prevent hospitalizations.

Copays--Some upset about them. Prior to pandemic, copays were scheduled 1/1/21. We fought not to switch payments during pandemic. Pushed to 1/1/22.

Privatization--Emblem and Empire provided health care to all of us for decades. Want to continue relationship.

Enhancements--Out of pocket max 1470. Drug coverage 125 as opposed to 151. Worldwide emergency travel coverage. Our retirees enjoy traveling. Transport and meals. Telehealth program. 

Members can stay in current plan for ancillary monthly charge. Right to return after one year. Mulgrew made sure our retirees had ability to freely go in and out as they choose. Opt out period will end on April 1, but will be continual opt in out until June 30. 

How are benefits changing? They are not. Welfare fund here to support all.

Mulgrew--Right now there is no cap on out of pocket. We have same program plus enhancements. All savings from program do not go back to city, but to health care stabilization fund. Hundreds of millions a year. Retained benefit with integrity, smartly. No matter who next admin is, they can't touch it.

Elections--Going into election season, call it silly season. We're all in world of toxic politics, need clear transparent process certified. We are biggest union in US with biggest target on back. Please know we have extremes like everyone. Makes us stronger, but scorched earth--asks people to think things through. 

Election committee has formed and voted. We always get challenged in our elections. Have made it clear that we do it correctly. If you want to change processes you have to do it early. Electronic voting sounds great but how do we make sure it survives challenge. NLRB has frowned upon this. We send stamped ballot to every person's house. Would like to see greater vote count. We've tried electronic in smaller elections, but actually drove down voting. Wants everyone to think of all we have to navigate. Whatever we do, it's our fight internally. All families have issues, but you don't burn your house down. We will abide by election committee decisions.

Health care task force--Recommends it be divisional and generational. Focus difference between 25 and 55. What is in best interests? UFT only union with concierge agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering. We're not playing by anyone else's rules. Client never involved with cost conversation. We won't accept that. We are the buyer, and we're at the table. That has been our strategy. Some hospital CEOs get upset. We will need committee to deal with this. Will be time suck.

Negotiating committee--Last time we had largest in UFT history, every chapter participated. General demands, and individual bargaining unit demands are different. We want, again, to have even more participation.  Proportional by school, division, borough, and chapter. Decisions made by committee, not Mulgrew. 

Will be application on Google, and also by recommendation. 

There will be multiple training sessions. We do not negotiate in public. Confidential. Have to finalize demands and proposals. Will be whole group and individual training. Do not believe we will be setting a pattern this time. Other unions ahead of us likely to set pattern. Important in NYS and NYC, established precedent. 

Will survey entire membership. Chapters need to be surveyed. Had high participation in general and low in chapters last time. Want to fix that. 

Decide if you want to be part of this. Chapter leaders in functional chapters have to discuss with exec. boards. Different chapters may have different approaches. 

Will go out in January. 

Q--Can members get Powerpoint?

A--Yes. Last time someone broadcast DA. Don't want this.

Page on new health plan on retiree website. Mulgrew asks powerpoint go out to all UFT.

Spring break arbitration--Ugly as anticipated. We worked seven days we were supposed to be on vacation. What is value of those seven days. Don't want to hear CAR days. Nowhere near value. We want full value of seven days we worked. City made us work during vacation. Was not governor. Said he would look to remove funding, but never issued executive order. That governor said a lot of things. City is responsible. Not covered under emergency. They owe us full value for seven days we worked. 

Digital classroom--Guidance has gone out. Definition of closed classroom, partially closed. Will send out with Powerpoints. Principals do not read guidance. 

CLs--Stipend coming out for holidays, but we all know you can't do this work unless you're motivated and passionate. 

NYU nurses, front page heroes, no PPE, doing own stuff. CEOs put up commercials. Now, contract's up, They're a medical cost for bottom line, nothing else. Big struggle. How fast they forget. CEO needs 8 million bonus. Negotiating committee will see. You'll hear from people who screw special ed. students. 

Please relax during break. Make sure you take care of yourselves.

LeRoy Barr--Toy drive, collecting at UFT offices. Election notice going out in NY Teacher. Petitions available in next DA. Members need to update email and addresses. Next meeting 1/19. Happy holidays, new year, to UFT family. 

Mulgrew--You can also do paypal and cash. They are using voting buttons, evidently, at 52 Broadway. Mulgrew gives instructions. Does practice run. 5:32 PM. 57% don't like blue. 


Q--Memo from DOE about remote classrooms. Do we anticipate shutdowns?

A--Right now 2400 classrooms affected. Mayor doesn't want to talk about it but we've closed a school each week. Test and trace and situation room not performing. In conversations, de Blasio says he will hire people. Bring it up to incoming mayor and transition team too. Number 0.77 in schools. Lower than rest of city and state. Testing is early warning system. We need it for preK and 3K too.  We have breakthrough cases, but vaccines work. Highly immune compromised and unvaccinated get very ill. We don't want any more loss. Upsetting that we are used to being in pandemic.

Q--Usually attend remotely. Made point to come here. Was chaotic last time. We need to get good info out. What can we do, is there protocol for fair discussion?

A--During debate will hold people to time and topic. When we vote I will repeat twice what we're voting on. With clickers here, results will be quick. I was ineffective in classroom management last time. We owe it to delegation to do this orderly. Many delegates contacted me about that. 

Q--Payroll coding--School doesn't have coding for partial closure, or for when people went for mandated vaccines. How can I get codes?

A--DOE now has codes. We have brought it up. Now all complete. Will send out.

Q--When do you anticipate contract negotiations to commence? Is training for committee paid?

A--Right now it's volunteer. We want it done for right reason. We will see. Waiting on pattern. Will city want this done quickly for labor peace while they have money, or will they wait? If they wait, inflation works to our advantage. Not sure where this admin is going. Want committee prepped, ready to go. 

Q--Question of privilege--In event delegate makes personal insult, will this be ruled out of order, and stricken? What guidance can chair offer for repeated such actions?

A--Hoping it doesn't come up. If it does, we can have it stricken. Parliamentarian has process to strike someone from participating, but I think we're better than that. Have been in unions where such actions have been taken. 

Q--Substitutes--Lots of out of classroom teachers being pulled to sub. Admin says there are no subs. Understand it now, but are we short?

A--DOE will say there are 11,000. There are not. We incentivized them with 50 extra a day this year. This goes back to DOE, when we lost a thousand paras to mandate, and learned there were 4500 waiting to be processed. HR dept. job is to recruit workforce. They don't do it. Why don't we have a teach NY program, with enrollments dropping. We want HR dept. to go out and recruit. They recruited from other countries, surprised at how students acted. We got 1800 paras hired. This is not our job, but we had to do it. 


Greg Monty--this month--Member engagement--UFT will survey all members for contract demands, as well as individual chapters, committee formed soon. UFT will raise voices to fair contract. 

659 yes. 123 against. 157 in room yes 24 against. Passes. 

Zakia Rock--this month. Testing in preK. UFT will push city to institute regular testing for staff at preK centers.

762 yes 58 no  167 yes in room didn't hear against. 


Mulgrew--Will do shorter report next month. Hope I have redeemed myself in managing this thing, Main thing is you all do God's work. 6:04. Being a teacher will get you through the pearly gates. Please deposit clickers outside.

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