Unions, retirees and health care are topics I write about and know a few things.
So when I heard that AFT president Randi Weingarten and New York UFT president Michael Mulgrew wanted to move retiree health care to a privatized Medicare Advantage system I was instantly interested.
I knew that Weingarten had been an outspoken foe of Medicare For All during the presidential Democratic primaries as part of her opposition to Bernie Sanders.
But here is the irony.
Her opposition to Medicare for All was that it took away the right of unions to bargain good health insurance.
This was just before the pandemic when millions of workers lost their insurance when they lost their jobs.
But in New York State Weingarten and Mulgrew want to negotiate a deal that removes important union controls over retiree health insurance and hand it over to privatized Medicare Advantage.
New York retiree health care is currently paid for by Medicare and then from money from a publicly funded Stabilization Fund. No private insurance is involved.
Current retiree coverage and costs would probably not change. But actives would enter a system in which non-Medicare costs would be in the hands of private insurance companies. And then, who knows?
That would do just the opposite of what Weingarten said when she opposed Medicare for All. It would remove the union from the deal.
It is also the opposite of where progressive unionists want to take health care. We want an expanded public system and get private insurance out of the game.
Weingarten is on the wrong side.