Sunday, January 08, 2023

Tell the City Council to Vote NO and RETAIN the City's Minimum Contribution to Our Health Care

We are on a slippery slope here. If we allow the city to make sub-minimum contributions to our health care, it's not likely to end there. The MLC, with the full support of our union leadership, made a short-sighted cost-cutting deal with the de Blasio administration. Though Mulgrew assured us in 2018 copays would not go up, some have doubled since then. 

Where can they go from here? The sky's the limit.

As I wrote in my Daily News op-ed yesterday, once we sell out the retirees, we working teachers (and all city workers) are fair game as cost-cutting targets. Lets stop this right here. If you're a retiree, you can sign to speak at tomorrow's hearing. If you're working, like I am, you can submit written testimony at the same link. An advantage of written testimony is that you may write as much as you need. Oral testimony will likely be limited to two minutes, so plan accordingly. 

Norm has suggestions about contacting City Council members directly, as well as a sample email you can send them. He also includes their addresses.

With his permission, I'm including my friend Bennett's testimony for tomorrow. I hope he can squeeze this into two minutes. It will be a tough day over at City Council. Please take a few minutes to let them know to do the right thing.

Hello, I'm Bennett Fischer and I'm a retired teacher with 29 years of service in our public schools, and I am a career long UFT activist, who is very distraught and very angry at the harmful position my union leadership is taking.

Most of us here are public service employees, and whichever city health plan we are enrolled in, the cost of that plan is protected by a defined price threshold set in a city law. If your insurance costs less than the threshold, you're covered. If it's more than the threshold, you pay up.

That's fair. The law applies equally to all city employees. It ensures a decent, and equal subsidy for the city health plan we choose. And it lets the most vulnerable among us stay on traditional, public Medicare - and doesn't force anyone into the private, regional, for-profit Medicare Advantage ecosystem. Why would you ever even consider taking our healthcare protections out of the law, and putting them into the hands of a very few, very fallible, very self-interested group of politicians? New York City mayors and union presidents come and go. The law offers much more stability.

Keeping 12-126 intact doesn't mean we can't negotiate for quality healthcare, and savings. Amending 12-126 means we will be at the mercy of a few men(!) in a room. I hoped we were beyond those days.

We dedicate our careers to public service, not for great pay, but to do good for our communities and our families. What we sacrifice in pay, we expect to make up in decent, stable benefits both in-service, and in retirement. Don't give away our legal protections. What we give up in law, we will never get back.

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