At the beginning of this year, the union’s Welfare Fund unveiled an exciting new optical benefit, one that promised to offer high-quality coverage and hundreds of dollars in savings to members who use glasses or contact lenses.
A few months after announcing a new partnership with Davis Vision, the verdict is in: members are getting better, more convenient optical coverage. Several members have reported to the union that they are getting frames and lenses at no cost that would have cost them hundreds of dollars under the previous plan.
“I knew that the benefits had increased and it was time for me to get new glasses,” said Hollis Glaser, a professor of speech communication at Borough of Manhattan Community College. “It had been over two years, my reading had gotten a little bit different.”
Glaser, who lives in Tarrytown, in Westchester County, New York, went to her local optical store and, as she put it, “they did everything.” She received transitional lenses with “good-looking frames, nice stylish frames.” And it was all free.
“It seemed like we had to put in hundreds before,” she said.
The fund reported that vision benefit usage increased by 45 percent in the first half of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. More than 3,600 members and their dependents have used the benefit in that period, reflecting an increase of nearly 1,100 more users.
The optical benefit is also available to part-timers.
“I got a pair of no-line bifocals that transition to sunglasses and paid nothing,” said Eleanor Bader, an adjunct instructor of English at Kingsborough Community College. “This was a terrific benefit since had I not had this coverage, I’d have paid $826 for them. Yikes! That’s a huge savings.”
Terrence Martell, a distinguished professor of finance at Baruch College, was similarly enthusiastic.
“The old plan was too complicated,” he said, noting that in the past he found it impossible to find a store that would meet the plan’s requirements and fit his optical needs. But this time was different.
“The new plan had a very large number of places you could use, including one that was in the next village over from us, very convenient, and they basically said, ‘You can get whatever you want,’” he said, noting that he got transitional glasses that shade in the sun. “I found it, frankly, pleasant, and I think that with the new plan I was able to get an expensive pair of glasses that I would not have been able to do absent the plan.”
Martell continued, “I see better, which is nice, and more importantly, my eyes are protected from the sunlight. That’s a new addition that I couldn’t have under the old plan and wouldn’t have done myself.”
Specific details of the plan can be found online.
Welfare Fund Executive Director Donna Costa told Clarion, “We are happy to report a lot of positive feedback from members who have taken advantage of the improved vision benefit. People are pleased to find that many of the most frequently purchased lens options, like photochromic and high-index lenses, are included at no member cost.”
PSC President Barbara Bowen said, “I talked to a member who normally pays more than $700 for glasses because her prescription is complicated. For her new pair she paid nothing. ‘It’s like getting a $700 raise for this year,’” she said.
Bowen continued, “More than 3,600 PSC members have made use of the new benefit since it began in January. The Welfare Fund is able to offer the new benefit because of the increased funding we won in the last contract. Every new pair of glasses is a testament to the power of a fighting union. Collectively, PSC members have already saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, while receiving high-quality service. Wear your new glasses with pride.”