Thursday, January 08, 2015

Revive NYSUT Benefits Revive NYSUT

I used to teach business letters, but I rarely do so anymore. In fact, I rarely even write them anymore, given the immediacy and availability of electronic communication. Nonetheless, one of the first things I taught was that your name goes at the bottom, as does your title. So it surprises me a little when I see a letter that opens like this (slide past the advertising to the right and enlarge to view):

My name is Martin Messner. I am a teacher and a NYSUT member who was elected as NYSUT’s Secretary/ Treasurer this past spring.

I have a few issues with this. One is that his name and title, of course, are included as a signature, and that this is redundant. You'd think with all the money we pay NYSUT they could find a high school grad to proofread. More to the point, Messner doesn't really work as a teacher. He’s full time at NYSUT these days, making 238K a year before benefits.

However, Messner and his Revive buds made sure they’d be able to keep their teaching gigs in case this whole NYSUT thing doesn’t work out. Thus, while they are out there in Albany doing whatever it is they do, they need not worry about being unemployed in case Mike Mulgrew decides they aren’t doing what he wishes. In fact, they managed to get legislation passed to ensure that. Sure, they couldn’t stop junk science ratings, tier 6, the GEA, the tax cap, and they couldn’t work for a pro-teacher candidate like Zephyr Teachout.

This was particularly important for them for several reasons. The primary reason is that the Revive NYSUT team is denying Lee Cutler, Messner’s predecessor, the severance pay that all the other leaders UFT Unity tossed out are receiving. Cutler, like Messner, had to leave his job before actually retiring. While Revive is willing to screw Cutler it’s important that they themselves be protected.

Messner is jumping for joy about potential savings for NYSUT members.  Not only do they save a few bucks by screwing Lee Cutler, but they also have fabulous insurance programs. Messner saved $375 by switching his home insurance, and another $190 by switching his car insurance. Ain’t that fabulous? This will certainly aid his bottom line, along with the double pension he and his buds negotiated for themselves.

Ironically, the only reason Messner was elected was because of UFT support. Lee Cutler is much-loved around the state, and basically kicked Revive’s ass outside of the city. Of course, UFT has 28% of the members, and 33% of the vote. This is because, in NYSUT’s peculiar vision of democracy, anyone who can’t afford to travel for a weekend at the NY Hilton doesn’t get a vote. I won’t belabor the fact that UFT is a rubber stamp for leadership, with a loyalty oath that makes sure all delegates vote as instructed.

The thing is, though, that MetLife can really suck if you’re a UFT member. For one thing, if you live around a flood area, like I do, and like UFT President Mike Mulgrew does, they won’t cover you at all. This has been the case for at least 20 years, because though I had insurance with them soon after I bought my home, they refused to cover me.

The other thing is that their rates for auto insurance in the metro are are simply awful. When I signed up with them, about 20 years ago, they were competitive, and I did indeed save money. But I trusted them to keep up, and in fact they did not. I bought a car last May, and the salesperson asked me who my insurance company was. When I told him, he said he was absolutely sure he could save me money.

I was a little wary. After all, this was a union-negotiated benefit, and they’re looking out for me. But having a teenage driver in my family, and now with three cars, my rate was pretty high—over $7,000. My wife was next to me, and she was pretty insistent. So I went into an office with a salesperson who saved us about $3,000 a year by switching me to Allstate.

Since it’s UFT that controls NYSUT, shouldn’t they choose an insurance company that offers competitive rates to not only Martin Messner, but also those of us who constitute the very largest local in the country? Shouldn’t Messner aggressively look for an insurance company that doesn’t redline those of us who were victims of Hurricane Sandy? Should Mike Mulgrew consider punching him in the face, rather than only Common Core oppenents, if he doesn’t look out for us?

Or is it the case that what’s good for Martin Messner is good for the entire state? Judging from NYSUT’s legislative record this year, which benefits Messner and his Revive BFFs rather than working teachers, that’s what they’ve concluded.
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