Sometimes it’s all you can do to wrap your head around it. But that’s the human race for ya. Bad shit really does happen to some very good people. And today we’re gonna talk about nasty things being done to, of all people, teachers — not by ignorant politicians or brutal corporate reformists, but by their own union!
Recently, Clark County School District teachers have been forced by thug-like union tactics — threats of having their individual health benefits revoked — to sit down for a benefits review with the American Fidelity Assurance Co., an insurance conglomerate chosen to police teachers for the union and its Health Trust.
The pretext of this scheme is that they are trying to uncover teachers declaring ineligible dependents on their health benefits. However, it sure looks to me like a shell game to rake in money for American Fidelity and the Clark County Education Association, or the teachers’ union.
When asked if the union-backed Teachers Health Trust was using an independent insurance company to police teachers, a phone monkey at the Health Trust named Debbie said, “Yeah, it’d be fair to say that.” The union’s own documents certainly make it sound that way.
For several months, teachers have been being warned to set up personal appointments with representatives from American Fidelity, or face consequences. Teachers have been told to bring their tax returns for strangers to investigate. Some American Fidelity personnel interrogating teachers have been from out of state. On top of that, the school district itself has engaged in this madness by having school secretaries remind teachers to set up their “required” meetings with these thugs in our schools. Obviously, a teacher doesn’t have a prayer when Big Brother is everywhere.
The bottom line to this? Money. It has been pretty evident the motive is profit because teachers who have never declared any dependents on their health insurance have also been directed, in writing, to attend these demoralizing shakedowns. American Fidelity, which has reportedly been granted exclusive access (approved vendor status) to teachers, gets to pitch added insurance coverage to coerced, nervous teachers (which, the union documents say, they are free to turn down). Plus, according to union insiders, the CCEA receives a nice fee from American Fidelity for such special rights.
Also, as the union documents make clear, the meetings will also cover the “benefits of CCEA membership.”
Yet, for months, teachers have lived under threats of having their health benefits rescinded, simply for not meeting with an insurance salesperson. That’s bad shit happening to really good people — teachers — from a wolf in sheep’s clothing disguised as their union, an organization that has mostly failed to financially protect its members for years.
Of these things, Susan Ladrie-Mackey, a local teacher of deaf students, says, “I complained to the Health Trust and school district, but it was very ‘theater of the absurd.’ The letters from the union have actually been threatening. Some teachers think they must buy something new to keep legitimate dependents on their health insurance.”
Mark Jimenez, a math instructor at one of our premiere schools, points out, “The Teachers Health Trust begged teachers for support when the district tried to get rid of it, but now it turns around and does this American Fidelity thing to teachers. That’s bullshit.”
Finally, retired teacher Sally Magnuson, a former three-decade union member and American Fidelity customer, says, “The teachers’ union just keeps doing the limbo from year to year to see how much lower it can go to screw its teachers.”
CHIP MOSHER is a teacher and union member.