1101 RMC membership meeting, 10/7/2015
The meeting was held at the Local 1101 office, Manhattan Tom Smucker began the meeting by distributing several handouts o available services for seniors in NYC Ilene Winkler reported on a new issue with Medicare signups: many people turning 65 now are going on Medicare before they file for Social Security. Verizon is sending them letters telling them they have to pay for Part B Medicare, which is correct but not being explained well. We need to publicize and explain this on our website.
Mike Baxter, Northern VP of Local 1101, reported that there is no progress on contract negotiations so the union is intensifying mobilization. Now concentrating on hand billing Verizon Wireless stores. All members are assigned to handbill 4 hours a month at specific company-owned stores. We are being asked to help with Wednesdays at the Union Square 5 pm or wherever you can make it. In the Bronx they are focusing on Coop City. Mike explained the "Bring Bianca Back" campaign: Bianca Cunningham, one of the leaders of the successful organizing drive at Wireless in Brooklyn, was fired for union activity. A female employee was having trouble with an aggressive manager and management had agreed she would never work in the store alone with him. However she found herself in that situation and called Bianca. The union told Bianca to tell the employee to go home, for which Bianca was fired.
Mike also reported that on Wednesday 10/14 the City Council is holding a hearing on Verizon's failure to provide FIOS to all customers who want it, which is a violation of their franchise agreement with New York City. Retirees are being asked to come to the hearing at City Hall at 11:30 am. Ten people volunteered to attend.
After Mike's report Tom resumed the meeting with everyone present introducing themselves. Elections: Tom explained the history of the formation of the chapter and the election three years ago of the present executive board. We need to hold another election in January, which will be done at the January 13th meeting. Pat Gibbons has agreed to head up the elections committee. Addie Chambers and Paul Romersa volunteered to be on the committee. Anyone who wants to run should inform one of them in writing by December 7th. This will also be announced at the November meeting which will be at the American Legion Hall in the Bronx. Ione provided written directions to the Bronx meeting.
Mike Saurino reported on 9/11 compensation issues. Registration for the Victims Compensation Fund will close in October 2016 unless Congress extends the deadline. Everyone who worked downtown should go to the website vcf.gov to register. Also google Zagroda Act extension to find the website to campaign for reauthorization of this bill which provides medical care for first responders sick from 9/11. Gov. Cuomo has extended NYS compensation for another 5 years but we need federal govt support as well.
Patrick Welsh answered a question about the Bell Tel retirees group, which is mostly management, and their bill in Congress to force companies to honor their promise of lifetime medical care. The bill is unfortunately going nowhere. Their website does have good information.
Tom distributed a Verizon memorandum on retiree health care that he received from 1101 VP Al Russo. Pat reported that pre-Medicare retirees who retired after 2013 have already started paying for health care premiums. The company has announced that as of Oct 16th all pre-Medicare retirees will start paying. This was agreed to in 2012 bargaining but really expected to apply to next contract if it was not changed. The company says they have to do this now because November is the enrollment month so they are imposing this change. The cost will be $318 per year, around $26 per month.
Question: if the retiree is on Medicare but the spouse or other dependent is not yet will they have to pay? Answer: yes, that is the situation for the 2013 and later retirees now. Lew Grupper reported on the Labor for Bernie activities in New York and Massachusetts and asked interested members to sign up. Tom raised a question from a member in Putnam County about the possibility of conferencing into the meetings. Ilene suggested that instead we email him the meeting minutes and that we can also do this for other members in the same situation.
There will be a holiday party on December 16th, at noon at the Local. We are catering from the restaurant where we order our pizza and Anita Lathan is providing home baked desserts. Charge is $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Ilene and Mike Blau are collecting money. Minutes submitted by Ilene Winkler, Secretary