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Dear union leaders:
When I gave my in-person testimony to the City Council on January 9th of this year I stayed to the very end of the hearing and listened to what everyone had to say. What especially resonated with me was that approximately 95 percent of those who spoke, either via Zoom or in person, were opposed to changing city Administrative Code Section 12-126 to permit the city to charge the retirees for a portion of their health coverage. What I found most interesting, however, was that those that spoke in favor of changing 12-126 did so because they did not want to go into a Medicare Advantage plan. They would rather pay approximately $200 a month to stay with traditional Medicare.
When I was a recruit in the Police Academy in January 1984, Patrick Lynch, the now-longtime leader of the Police Benevolent Association, was in my company (Co. # 84-40). Little did I know that he would join the ranks of all of you as a leader of a municipal union. What I did know then, however, was that being a union leader was a position of great responsibility. Having worked in non-union jobs prior to my appointment to the NYPD, I knew I was very fortunate to have union representation. I never had to ask a boss for a raise. I never had to be concerned about getting screwed because I had union representation.
Imagine my shock to learn that so many of the city’s municipal unions have agreed to end traditional Medicare for retirees against the will of the vast majority of us. To learn that this has come about to fund raises is incredulous.
Has the City of New York outmaneuvered the unions of the municipal workers? A famous New York Jets quarterback once proclaimed "I not only predict it; I guarantee it." This was Joe Namath on the eve of Super Bowl III, in January 1969, and he delivered. I believe the retirees will win once again.
There is ample legal precedent showing where municipalities were sued and lost when they attempted to change retirees' health plans. That is why I can predict another retirees' victory.
Ladies and gentlemen, is it not better for us to unite in opposition to this ill-conceived plan? The City of New York is in a unique, once-in-a-lifetime position to embroil the Municipal Labor Committee in a legal war with city retirees. Management vs. workers. Union leaders, whose side are you on?
Let me close by asking a question. When I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2013 as a result of my participation at Ground Zero, I was fortunate to be enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program (my next visit to Mount Sinai's Ruttenberg Cancer Center is April 05, 2023). James Zadroga's sacrifice allowed me and so many others to benefit from the WTC Health Program. Would we have received the same level of support from a Medicare advantage plan?
"Never forget." But have the unions forgotten the retirees?
I welcome a reply.
Jack La Torre
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