BENEFITS

Don’t Like Your Health Plan? October is the Time to Switch

October 2, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES If you wish to change your health-care plan, now is the time to act. The city’s annual health-care “reopener” runs from Oct. 2 to Oct. 31. For city employees who change plans, coverage is effective on the date of their first paycheck in 2018. Retirees can only change their plan in even-numbered years. But they are allowed to change plans in an odd-numbered year if they exercise a one-time exception to that rule. Retiree alert! Beware of aggressive marketing During the annual open enrollment period, retirees are inundated with material from insurance companies and other groups that administer Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplemental plans. Edward W. Hysyk, executive vice president of the DC 37 Retirees Association, urged retirees to sit tight and be very cautious about changing their plan. “The health-care coverage we receive from DC 37 [More...]

DC 37 Annuity Funds Shows Strong Growth

September 5, 2017 // 0 Comments

DC 37 Annuity Fund Growth 1999-2017 By GREGORY N. HEIRES Since its inception, the District Council 37 AFSCME Annuity Fund has grown annually by nearly 6 percent. “The annuity is a painless and cost-effective way to save for retirement,” said Audrey Browne, associate administrator and counsel at the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which oversees the annuity. The annuity was established in 1999 after DC 37 won the optional benefit — which requires the approval of locals — in an economic agreement. Each DC 37 member from locals that opted to participate received a $522 one-time contribution from the city for the annuity. The $522 in seed money for individual accounts has grown to $1,467 since 1999. The annual interest rate of the fund is a healthy 5.99 percent. By comparison, in July, investors in U.S. Treasury notes and bonds could count on 1.99 percent in earnings over 10 [More...]

DC 37 Annuity Fund Shows Strong Growth

August 25, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Since its inception, the District Council 37 AFSCME Annuity Fund has grown annually by nearly 6 percent. “The annuity is a painless and cost-effective way to save for retirement,” said Audrey Browne, the associate administrator and counsel at the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which oversees the annuity. The annuity was established in 1999 after DC 37 won the optional benefit in an economic agreement. Each DC 37 member from a local that opted to participate received a $522 one-time contribution from the city for the annuity. The $522 in seed money for individual accounts has grown to $1,467 since 1999. The annual interest rate of the fund is at a healthy 5.99 percent. In July, investors in U.S. Treasury notes and bonds could count on a 1.99 percent in earnings over 10 years, according to the website of the financial services company Edward P. Jones & Co., [More...]

Union Adopts Changes at Health Care Centers

June 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Beginning in July, the DC 37 health centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn will no longer provide podiatry services. In addition, the vision services in the Manhattan center will no longer be provided. Members and retirees must now get their optical care through the Health & Security Plan’s optical provider network or their own physician. For podiatry care, members and retirees should visit physicians who are on their insurance company’s network of podiatrists. The closings of the podiatry and vision offices at the health centers are part of H & S’s long-term plan to control costs in the face of the skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices. To secure the financial health of the drug and other benefits, the plan raised co-pays at the beginning of the year, and the union later negotiated with the city to provide an additional $200 in permanent funding for each [More...]

Apply by July 15 for DC 37 Education Dept. Scholarships

June 15, 2017 // 0 Comments

Applications are now being accepted for the DC 37 Education Dept. scholarships listed below. Most scholarships are for members’ and retirees’ children and grandchildren. However, the Lillian Roberts Scholarship for Continuing Education is for active members only. The scholarship application deadline is July 15. All applicants will be required to submit a completed application package and include all required documentation. To apply for a scholarship: 2017 DC 37 Scholarship Award Guidelines & Application For more information visit the DC 37 website or call the Education Dept. at 212-341-4999. EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MEMBERS’ CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN The DC 37 Education Committee offers scholarships for dependent children and grandchildren of DC 37 eligible members in good standing and retirees who are members of the DC 37 Retirees Association. These scholarships are for [More...]

Unions, City Meet Target for Savings; Health Care Coverage Still Premium-Free

June 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Mission accomplished. The Municipal Labor Committee on May 18 approved the last of a series of coverage changes that will enable the city to save $3.4 billion in employee health care costs. The city and MLC — which represents city unions on health care matters — agreed to the four-year plan in 2015. The saving plan enabled DC 37 to maintain the premium-free health care coverage that members and retirees enjoy through Blue Cross Blue Shield/GHI-CBP and HIP/HMO. “There were doubts in some circles that the union and city could achieve this, but we succeeded,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “The plan preserves our premium-free coverage at least through fiscal year 2018.” Here are the changes: ● The co-pay for members enrolled in HIP/HMO who use Urgent Care centers will increase to $50 on July 1. Currently, the co-pay at the centers ranges [More...]

Fighting Big Pharma

May 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Administrators of the union’s welfare plan are mounting a new legal offensive to keep the rising costs of generic drugs in check. If successful, the court cases would help “correct widespread corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Audrey Browne, associate administrator and counsel of the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which oversees the union’s drug benefit for over three hundred thousand members, retirees and their dependents. The first lawsuit, scheduled to be heard in Philadelphia federal court, accuses generic drug manufacturers of conspiring to increase the price of a popular generic drug called propranolol, which is used to treat hypertension and prevent heart attacks. The suit seeks a rollback in prices and damages. Two other price rigging cases have also been filed in federal courts in New York and New Jersey against the generic [More...]

When ICE Comes Knocking

May 9, 2017 // 0 Comments

Local 983’s Jose Molina turned his life around, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may deport the family man for a 20-year-old conviction. By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Loud pounding at 5:30 a.m. on a cold January morning in 2013 jolted Jose Molina and his family from their sleep. Molina’s wife, Jennifer, opened the door of their Bronx apartment. In the hallway stood five armed men. Within minutes, they were knocking over furniture and spilling out dresser drawers. The commotion frightened the Molina children, then ages 11 and 9, who began to cry as the strangers confined them to their bedrooms, out of the reassuring reach of their parents. The men surrounded Jose and Jennifer in their living room. She begged for an explanation. Then the men, officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), handcuffed Jose and led him away as his crying family watched. Since that cold, [More...]

Trump’s Nationalistic Policies Worry Immigrant Members

March 31, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO President Donald J. Trump’s executive order issued on Jan. 27 sought to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. The order was swiftly struck down by the federal court with orders not to deport or detain travelers. Chaos prevailed at airports around the country on the weekend the day after Trump issued the ban. At Kennedy Airport in New York City, hundreds of demonstrators joined cab drivers and protested against the ban. Panic also spread among the thousands of immigrant New Yorkers. Fear spread to immigrants not covered by the ban and even immigrants who have green cards and visas. Ferdous Ahmed, a member of Electronic Data Processing Personnel Local 2627, was one of those New Yorkers. Shocked by what he was seeing on the evening news that weekend, Ahmed called the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) the [More...]

Members Overwhelmingly Pass Contract Extension

March 13, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Members overwhelmingly approved a contract extension that will allow millions of dollars to be poured into the union welfare plan’s financially-troubled prescription drug plan. An independent monitor, the American Arbitration Association, announced the results of the mail-ballot vote on March 10. Members approved the extension by a vote of 94 percent, with 22,526 in favor and 1,196 opposed. “The passage of the contract extension is a very significant step toward protecting the plan from being devastated by the relentless pressure of rising drug prices,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. This extension will earmark $24 million to the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which provides the popular drug benefit. Under an agreement between the city and the union, the city will permanently raises its annual contribution to the DC 37 Health & [More...]