July 13, 2024


Education, What Else?

MLC–What Is It Good For?

4 min read
MLC–What Is It Good For?

The city unions have an umbrella organization called the Municipal Labor Committee, or MLC. I may have mentioned them once or twice on this page. This group acts on its own, It does not seek approval from rank and file.

That, of course, is an issue when they make deals. At some point, to save money for the city, they agreed that all new city employees would be in HIP for the first year. I was not that upset by that. Many employees don’t last longer than that. Of course, many disagreed, suggesting it was a slippery slope. 

It turns out they were absolutely correct. 

Emboldened by this agreement, MLC made a new money-saving deal in 2018. So far, this has resulted in retirees being dragged out of Medicare and dumped into an Advantage plan administered by Aetna. It’s hard for me to understand how giving Aetna the right to pre-approve our care will make it better. It’s hard for me to understand how having fewer available doctors helps city employees. Of course, I’m not on the MLC. 

Now they’re looking for providers that will offer health insurance for us at 10% less. It’s impossible for me to imagine that we will not pay for that, either with higher copays, fewer providers, or more likely both. The prime directive of MLC, like that of UFT President Michael Mulgrew, appears to be saving money for Mayor Eric Adams. You can’t make this stuff up.

I’ve worked for New York City for the last 38 years. When I started teaching, my salary was around 13K. In fact, I was offered a job driving for FedEx that paid more. Nonetheless, what everyone told me was that while I wasn’t making a whole lot of money right now, we had a great retirement plan and health coverage. This didn’t matter much to me at the time. I really couldn’t picture being retirement age.

And yet, here I am. I’m thinking about retiring July 1st. If I do that, I’ll be among the first group of retirees to have diminished health coverage.  Of course many unions disagreed. However, they were voted down by UFT and DC37, who supposedly represented more members. Never mind that not a single one of them was consulted about this. All things considered, I don’t love the MLC. Don’t ask me to send them a Christmas card.

You’d think, though, that MLC could get together and work in the interests of membership. Specifically they could work to improve our contracts citywide. This year, for example, DC37 agreed to 3% a year for the next five years. However, considering cost of living, we won’t catch up to this year’s inflation until the contract ends. That’s a bargain basement deal for Eric Adams, at our considerable expense. 

Now I’m sure DC37’s members need more money. Many of them are paid close to minimum wage. It’s tough for them, and a 3K bonus surely sweetens the pot. I understand why they voted overwhelmingly to ratify. I think UFT will vote to ratify as well. This notwithstanding, MLC could do better. It’s tough to imagine how they can do worse.

Why can’t they put their heads together and decide, for example, on a minimum they will accept for a round of pattern bargaining? And why can’t this keep up with inflation, at the very least?

There are some trust issues, I’m sure. For example, in 95 there was this pattern that was total crap, and DC37 voted it up, supposedly. Later, their leaders were convicted of vote-rigging. I think that was the year we voted down the contract and got a letter from then-President Sandy Feldman that we must be “smoking something” if we thought we could improve on it. (But I also distinctly recall hitting max salary at 22 years rather than 25, as the original would have made me wait. I’m glad we voted it down.)

Now I shouldn’t just beat up on DC37, because we’re not without blame either. We accepted and established a crappy pattern in 2014.  We did this because we were so absolutely desperate to recover the two years of 4% that many of our colleagues had received. It would have made much more sense to have simply gone to arbitration. We’d almost certainly have gotten what everyone else did. And in the highly unlikely event we didn’t, we’d have finally put an end to pattern bargaining. 

Our negotiators are awful. They fancy themselves brilliant. Mulgrew frequently gets up on his hind legs at the DA, boasting of how smart they are.

We, along with DC37, dominate the MLC. With great dominance comes great responsibility. And yet, the geniuses over there have not figured out how to come together and face down the pattern. There is absolutely no downside in demanding a compensation increase, for all, that matches cost of living. Perhaps there’s a trust deficit in UFT and DC37, and perhaps it needs to be repaired. If that’s the case, our leaders need to make that priority one.

What will our leaders say? That’s easy. It’s never been done that way. It’s always been done this way. Someone on Twitter mentioned the other day that doing nothing is not a winning strategy. Yet that appears to be the only strategy MLC has for getting us paid. They’re pathetic. All they do is hurt us. 

MLC need to change its MO, or it needs to be replaced with something that serves us, the people who serve the city.

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