City concedes to court order;
PBA member benefits will not change on July 1

June 30, 2016

Dear PBA Member:

I am writing to update you on the status of our lawsuit to prevent the City from unilaterally changing PBA members’ health benefits by imposing co-payment increases.

As we notified you last week, the PBA has obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a state Appellate Court that prevents the City from increasing PBA members’ co-payments or otherwise modifying PBA members’ current health benefits, pending a further ruling in the case.

After the issuance of the TRO, several members informed us that their healthcare providers had been directed to apply the increased co-payments to PBA members on July 1 and had not been informed otherwise by either the City or the City’s health benefits carriers (e.g., EmblemHealth, which administers the HIP and GHI plans, and Empire BlueCross/BlueShield, which administers the hospital benefit).  The City subsequently notified the PBA that, despite the existence of the TRO, it still intended to apply the increased co-payments to PBA members on July 1.

In the PBA’s view, the City’s actions amounted to contempt of the court order.  Yesterday, we advised the City that the PBA would initiate contempt proceedings against both the City and the Office of Labor Relations officials responsible for ensuring compliance with the TRO.  Today, we also reached out directly to the City’s health benefits carriers to advise them of their obligation to comply with the TRO.

In response to our raising the prospect of contempt proceedings, this afternoon the City conceded that it will not impose the July 1 co-payment increases as planned.  You should soon receive a letter from the City Health Benefits Program — available for download and print here — notifying you that nothing about your City health benefits will be changed on July 1, including your co-payment amounts.

However, as a result of the City’s initial refusal to comply with the TRO and bad faith actions throughout this process, some healthcare providers may not yet be aware that the co-payment increases do not apply to PBA members.  We therefore encourage you to download and print the City’s letter at the link above to present to your healthcare provider at the time of your visit.

In the meantime, we will press forward with our lawsuit to permanently bar the City from changing our members’ healthcare benefits without bargaining with the union.  As always, we will continue to update you with concrete information as it becomes available.


Patrick J. Lynch