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To your health

New York Teacher

In case anyone wondered what it’s like to rely on the promises of a corporation instead of the power of a union, consider the case of the Xerox Corporation.

The company reportedly notified nonunion retirees in early October that the company-sponsored health benefits they have relied on will end this year.

That caught many retirees by surprise. Xerox had enticed some employees to retire early with the promise that benefits would be safe. Those who retired early to keep the health subsidy are now feeling betrayed.

“You entice me with a carrot, I take it, and now you’re telling me you’re taking it away,” one retiree told her local paper, adding that she won’t be eligible for Medicare for another four years.

It’s the kind of sleight of hand that constantly places nonunion workers at the mercy of wealthy corporate executives who place investor satisfaction above the well-being of employees.

At the UFT, health care is a significant part of our members’ compensation package. All DOE-employed workers represented by the UFT have access to premium-free health insurance. Under the health benefits agreement signed in June, new city employees, including public school educators, hired after July 1, 2019, will be automatically enrolled in HIP, but after one year on the job they can select another plan.

All UFT members, retirees and their family members also have automatic access to MSK Direct, a cancer care team at Memorial Sloan Kettering, at no additional cost beyond standard copays and deductibles.

Teachers elsewhere in the country paid an average of $7,174 annually in 2017 toward health insurance premiums, according to the National Compensation Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their employers were responsible on average for only 62 percent of the cost of the premiums.

The benefits of union membership are easy to take for granted — but like good health, it’s something to value every day.

Related Topics: Health Benefits, Editorials