On Wednesday, July 14, the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) voted to approve a contract with the NYC Office of Labor Relations (OLR) to move city retirees, including CUNY retirees, from traditional Medicare with supplemental city insurance to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan. The transition would take effect on January 1, 2022

The Medicare Advantage vendor is Alliance, a partnership of Empire BlueCross BlueShield and Emblem Health.

Members can choose to go into the Medicare Advantage plan or stay with traditional Medicare but would have to pay for their own Medigap insurance.

The transition raises lots of questions for our members and for all municipal retirees. At this juncture, we do not have the necessary information to answer many of those questions. Our commitment is to accuracy rather than speed in transmitting information to the chapter.

We will provide our own FAQs as soon as we have reliable information. Meanwhile, the NYC Office of Labor Relations has promised to post its own FAQs to its website by this weekend. Once we have a link, we will post it.

The PSC has set up the first of several meetings with the vendor, Alliance, where members will have the opportunity to ask questions. That meeting is set for 2 pm, Tuesday, July 27. A letter from PSC President James Davis with important updates and a registration link for the Tuesday, July 27 meeting is available here.

Read More. For updates, links to key documents, video of two important chapter meetings, reporting and analysis in our April and May newsletters, and actions in response to the move, click here.

NEWSLETTERS: The May newsletter is available HERE.


UPCOMING EVENTS. Scroll to bottom of this page for details. Next chapter meeting, Monday, September 13. (If necessary, given the moves to alter retiree healthcare, we'll call a special meeting.)

RETIRED -- BUT NOT A MEMBER OF THE CHAPTER? Click the link below for information on dues and how to JOIN online:

RESOURCES: We have begun posting links to resources useful to retirees during the coronavirus crisis. Scroll to the bottom of this page or click this link.

RETIREE ZOOM VIDEO: The chapter produced a 23-minute video for the PSC's 8/26 around-the-clock-online-action. It's available here.


Retirees Banner Image.jpg

The retiree’s chapter is enriched by the collective wisdom and experience of 2,900 plus members as teachers, professionals, scholars, learners, trade unionists and citizens of the world. Our goals are to draw on that experience; to strengthen our ties to a university whose curriculum, governance structures and outreach to a diverse student body we helped to build; to integrate our chapter’s activities into that of a progressive academic union; to fashion alliances with other retiree advocacy organizations; and to safeguard and enhance the safety net so vital to us as retirees – Social Security, Medicare and health benefits, pensions and the Welfare Fund. At our monthly meetings we address issues and present speakers on academic, labor, political, cultural and economic topics that reflect these goals and are of interest to our members.

The cover of the booklet published by the Safety Net Working Group.

Annual retiree dues are o $85 a year ($40 if you are an adjunct retiree). If you join between October and August your dues will be pro-rated. If you are interested in becoming a member, join online or call the PSC Membership Department, at 212-354-1252 for a membership application.

The chapter meets the first Monday of every month (October through December and February through May) at 1 pm in the PSC Union Hall, 16th Floor, 61 Broadway (or since March 2020 virtually on Zoom until the pandemic ends). Retirees break bread together at semi-annual luncheons in January and June. In addition, the chapter organizes cultural and social activities -- walking tours, theater parties, a writing group, a movie group, and more.

As a member of the chapter, you will
(1) receive Clarion by mail as well as the chapter's monthly newsletter and
(2) continue eligibility for any benefits that you receive through NYSUT, our state affiliate.

A key initiative for the chapter is its Safety Net Working Group. The group organized successful CUNY-wide forums in 2011 and 2013, made presentations to PSC campus chapters, produced a booklet, Defend and Expand the Safety Net: A Call to Action (see image) and received a $25,000 grant in 2014 from our state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), which extended the outreach efforts that the Group had been doing locally to a statewide audience of trade unionists and educators.

For more information about the chapter, click any of the following:


The Retiree Chapter has canceled all face-to-face events until further notice. We are scheduling virtual chapter events (using the Zoom platform).

Next regular chapter meeting. Monday, September 13, 1 pm -- State of Union.


Monday, June 14, 1 pm – Barbara Bowen, who steppied down on May 28 as a PSC officer, together with retirees, took a retrospective look at her momentous twenty-one years as president of the union. Here is a video of the meeting:

JUNE 2: A VIRTUAL TOUR OF “GRIEF AND GRIEVANCE: ART AND MOURNING IN AMERICA.” Organized around themes of race, grief and grievance, this is a powerful exhibit by 37 Black artists at the New Museum. Conceived by the late Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor, it is in his words, a “crystallization of Black grief in the face of a politically orchestrated White grievance.”

The exhibit confronts viewers with a multi-layered, multi-media ensemble of somber forms in sound, moving and still images, painting, graffiti, sculpture and more. Yet as one critic (Washington Post) asserted, it is “filled with musical invention, austere forms of abstract beauty and visceral expressions of joy.” A NY Times review called the exhibit “curating at its best.”

After participating in a virtuaal tour of the exhibit, chapter members joined a Zoom discussion led by Maya Harakawa, who wrote biographies of several of the exhibit’s contributing artists for the museum’s catalogue, She is a PhD student at the Graduate Center and has taught art history at both CUNY and SUNY.

The meeting was in two parts. (1) 1-2 pm. A CUNY New Deal: There was a presentation about this legislative package and campaign phased over five years to rebuild and reimagine CUNY. We heard speakers from both the PSC and CUNY Rising (an alliance of labor, students and community groups), who are leading the campaign. (2) 2-3 pm. Updates on the NYC/MLC negotiations on retirement health insurance and the organized response to these moves. There was a discussion of possible actions. The meeting was recorded. Click here to see the video.


We found out that the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) and the NYC Office of Labor Relations are about to decide whether to move all city retirees, including us, to a Medicare Advantage plan.

This has huge implications for our members. We need more information. More transparency. We needed to hear from our membership. That is why we invited two key people to discuss this and answer questions at our April 5 chapter meeting: PSC President Barbara Bowen, who is on the MLC Steering Committee, and Donna Costa, Executive Director of the PSC/CUNY Welfare Fund and a member of an MLC committee assessing the two Medicare Advantage finalists for an RFP issued by the city. Len Rodberg, Professor Emeritus from Queens College, a prominent advocate for single-payer healthcare and a PSC retiree, presented a brief history of Medicare Advantage as a privatized, for profit version of Medicare (which of course raises lots of questions.) Click HERE for a PDF of the PowerPoint slides Prof. Rodberg used in his presentation.

There is a full recording of the Zoom meeting. Click HERE for the link.

At the beginning of the meeting, a statement of urgent concern, unanimously endorsed by the Retiree Chapter Executive Committee, was read. It is available here.

320 members attended the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the body passed the following resolution (93.5% to 6.5%):

As a matter of urgent concern, the Retiree Chapter of the Professional Staff Congress requests that the PSC seek a moratorium on any agreement between NYC and the Municipal Labor Committee to move retiree healthcare coverage from Medicare/Senior Care to Medicare Advantage.

Municipal retirees affected by the proposed changes to retiree coverage have not been provided adequate and timely information nor have they had opportunities to discuss and debate the controversies around Medicare Advantage plans, the personal effects of such a change and its policy implications.

On April 15th, The Delegate Assembly, the principal governing body of the Professional Staff Congress, voted unanimously (115 to 0) to support the chapter's call for a moratorium on consideration by NYC and MLC of any agreement to move retiree healthcare to a Medicare Advantage program.

(Click HERE for a list of possible actions we can take to push for a moratorium.)

Petition on the MLC Negotiations. We have been working with the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations (COMRO) on mobilizing municipal retirees in response to the proposed move to Medicare Advantage. COMRO has an online petition addressed to the mayor and the MLC entitled “Preserve Medicare Part B for NYC Retirees.” As of 7/2 it had approximately 22,800 signatures. The more signatures gathered, the stronger the impact. To view the petition and add your name, click here.

Our May newsletter has more detailed coverage of the proposed change in retiree healthcare.

Modern Times Hero.jpg
Here was a chance to share a cultural experience with fellow retirees.

Modern Times (1936) is one of the unique films preserved by The Library of Congress in its National Film registry with the designation "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Directed and written by Chaplin, it is the last film in which Chaplin plays his classic “tramp,” but his first with a soundtrack (although Charlie is largely silent).

In its most famous scene, the opening, Chaplin, a master of physical comedy struggles to keep up with a sped-up conveyor belt on an assembly line. From there, we follow Charlie’s tramp on a series of adventures across the political, cultural and economic landscapes of depression era (1930s) America. Film critics have debated whether this is simply entertaining comedy at its best – or a deeper more somber political and social commentary about alienation in modern, industrial America.

Members watched the film at their convenience for free on YouTube at

Then many joined us at 1 pm on Monday, March 15, 1 pm for discussion, comradery, fun and debate. Our esteemed colleague, Jonathan Buchsbaum, a professor of media studies at Queens College and curator of the PSC’s “Labor Goes to the Movies” program, led a discussion after a short talk on Modern Times.


Theme: Healthy Aging

A look at the social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of aging – a topic of particular interest to our membership.


  • Ruth Finkelstein, Executive Director of Hunter's Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging.
  • Alec Pruchnicki, MD: Primary Care Geriatrician in private practice and at community-run assisted living facility (108 St. & 5th Ave).

The meeting was recorded. Write us at for the link.

Theme: Health and Welfare Benefits; Vaccine Updates
From the Welfare Fund
Donna Costa,
- Executive Director
Patrick Smith -- Communications Director
An update and review of all our health and welfare benefits

From the NYC Dept. of Health Vaccine Command Center
Chelsea Cipriano
- Executive Director Intergovernmental Affairs, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene

Patrick Smith, The Communicions Director of the Welfare Fund, presented a PowerPoint overview of our retiree health and welfare benefits. Click here for a PDF of the PowerPoint.

The meeting was recorded. Here is the link.


Theme: Seeking Social Justice and Exploring Privilege. Speakers:
The meeting was in two parts. The first part features three speakers followed by discussion

  • Anthony Beckford is President of Brooklyn Black Lives Matter and a community leader and organizer for the “underserved, voiceless and ignored.”
  • Rachel Boccio is a leader of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) at LaGuardia Community College, where she teaches in the English Department.
  • Kelly Smith is a National Organizer with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. A Deacon at Middle Collegiate Church in NYC, she is a board member of the NY State Labor Religion Coalition.

The second half of the program featured a short clip of a video of a TED talk, followed by a discussion.

Cecelia McCall moderateD the first half of the program; Joan Greenbaum the second half.

The meeting was recorded. If you are a member of the chapter --and would like the link to the recording, email us at with the subject head "January 11 Recording."

Universal Health Care: Possibilities and Issues in the aftermath of the election and with an impending Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Our speakers, all leading advocates for single payer health care, brouht expertise, passion and activism their presentations and the rich discussion that followed. You can access a full recording of the event by clicking here.

Oliver Fein:
Professor of clinical medicine and clinical public health and a Dean at Weill Cornell Medical College; Past President of Physicians for a National Health Program..
Len Rodberg: Professor Emeritus, Queens College where he was Chair of the Urban Studies Department for 22 years: Consultant for NY Health Act.
Marva Wade: A Vice President of the New York State Nurses Association and a leader of NYSNA’s advocacy for Medicare for All and the New York Health Act.

The 2020 election; A Retrospective and Conversation. This was one of our most lively meetings and discussions. You can access a recording of it by clicking here.
Frank Deal
e (the courts and the election): Professor, CUNY Law School, and former Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He has written extensively on human and labor rights and has been honored with multiple awards for his legal work and teaching.
Peter Hogness (grassroots movements election organizing before and after November 3rd); Editor of Clarion for 14 years and currently a grassroots organizer working with marginalized voters in key battleground states. See his recent Op-Ed in the Guardian on this --
Ed Ott (labor and the election); Former Executive Director the NYC Central Labor Council; co-editor New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement; Distinguished Lecturer, Joseph S Murphy Institute for Worker Education (now SLU)
Bobbie Sackman (senior issues and key NYS elections): A leading expert on issues facing the elderly and a well-known advocate for the importance of providing community-based senior services to diverse populations. Her legislative advocacy, with NYSARA and other organizations, has helped win millions of city, state and federal dollars for services for older New Yorkers

Mike Fabricant:
Professor at the CUNY School of Social Work, former First VP of the PSC who heads the union’s legislative advocacy in Albany and at City Hall. He has published widely, most recently on public higher education and the pushback against austerity funding.

VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1 - 3 PM. With analysis, discussion and debate, we focused on what may be the most important election season of our lives, the 2020 presidential and state elections.

To seed the discussion, we put together a panel of CUNY and labor colleagues.

  • Susan Kang: Associate Professor of Political Science, John Jay College: author of Human Rights and Labor Solidarity: Trade Unions in the Global Economy; and a leader and activist in successful NYS and congressional campaigns to elect progressive candidates to office.
  • Sochie Nnaemeka: Executive Director, NYS Working Families Party with a rich history as an organizer for labor, advocacy and community groups and as a leader against austerity politics in both the state and the city.
  • Ed Ott: Former Executive Director the NYC Central Labor Council; co-editor New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement; Distinguished Lecturer, Joseph S Murphy Institute for Worker Education (now SLU)
  • James Steele: Distinguished Lecturer at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies where he has taught courses on “Democracy and Power;” former executive staffer for congressmen and elected city leaders; longtime political consultant.

In addition, Bettina Damiani, the PSC’s new Director of Policy and Research, reported on the union’s Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations for the presidential and NYS elections,

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS: A VIRTUAL STORM AT OUR 8/31 CHAPTER MEETING. Monday, August 31, was a sunny day, but it poured a virtual rainstorm. The link for our retiree meeting was invalidated when Zoom, unbeknownst to us, changed the PSC account settings over the weekend. Hundreds of retirees got an error message when they tried to enter the virtual meeting. We moved quickly, but it was thirty minutes before we could send out a new Zoom link. Some eighty hardy souls joined the meeting, but hundreds more never had the opportunity.

Those who joined the meeting sung its praises – “terrific speakers/important information.” Here’s the good news: The meeting was recorded. To view, go to Click the arrow to play.

Here is a description of the meeting:

State of the Union(s). An update in this moment of crisis on the state of the PSC, the labor movement and CUNY in the midst of a pandemic and austerity funding.

Speakers: PSC President Barbara Bowen, Professor Stephanie Luce (Graduate Center/School of Labor and Urban Studies) and three PSC chapter chairs (Cindy Bink, HEOs; Yasmin Edwards, Bronx CC; George Sanchez, College of Staten Island) who have been in the trenches during this crisis.

VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, JUNE 8th, 1 PM. Our final chapter meeting of the semester commemorated the 100th anniversary of the nineteenth amendment (women’s suffrage). For those who miised it, click here for a recording (Access Password: 5c$!v.99).

Speaker: Barbara Winslow, a member of the retiree chapter and professor emerita at Brooklyn College, spoke on “Upending the History of Women's Suffrage: Bringing Race, Class and Empire to the Fore.”

A historian of women's activism, Prof. Winslow has authored or edited several books including Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change, Clio in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching U.S. Women's History (co-editor), Reshaping Women's History: Voices of Non-Traditional Women Historians (editor) and Sylvia Pank-hurst: Sexual Politics and Political Activism.

Prof. Winslow prepared a bibliography for this talk on the history of women's suffrage which you can access here.

We also honored three women who are retiring from the PSC staff whose union work has made such a difference over the decades for PSC members – Executive Director Debbie Bell, Membership Director Diana Rosato, and Policy and Research Director, Kate Pfordresher. We’made them honorary members of our chapter.

[If you are a member of the retirees chapter and do not receive an email invitation to this virtual chapter meeting by Friday, June 5, write us at]


We are posting links to resources useful to retirees during the coronavirus crisis. If you have suggested links, email us at

  • Medicare and Coronavirus: Learn how Medicare is addressing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) & what precautionary steps you can take to stay safe & healthy.
  • CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • NPR: Getting Bored? Here's A List Of Free Things That Weren't Free Before Coronavirus
  • WHO: World Health Organization
  • Sign Up for the Monday Alert: The weekly online newsletter of the NY State Alliance for Retired Americans (NYSARA) has invaluable coronavirus related information for seniors.
  • The NY Times and Washington Post are providing free access to their coronavirus reporting and updates. Normally, such access is for subscribers only.
  • The COVID Tracking Project collects information from 50 US states, the District of Columbia, and 5 other US territories to provide the most comprehensive testing data (positive and negative reslts, hospitalizations, deaths).
  • CUNY coronavirus updates.
  • Beethoven's Ninth as You Have Never Heard it Before: The Rotterdam Philharmonic teamed up with a Dutch healthcare provider to film the finale of Beethoven’s 9th with all the musicians playing their parts by video from their homes.. Extraordinary and uplifting.


Because the physical PSC office is shuttered for the duration of the pandemic, mail cannot be collected and processed daily, necessitating a move from payment by check through the U.S. mail to online payment for retiree dues. A number of retirees experienced difficulties with the direct payment system for annual dues.

Part of the problem was that the DOCUSIGN system was overwhelmed by heavy traffic. People could not access the site. If this happened to you, try again.

If you are paying full-time retiree dues (the vast majority of our members}, access DOCUSIGN by going to:

If you are paying part-time retiree dues, access DOCUSIGN by going to:

Fill in your name and email. DOCUSIGN will send you an access code to the email you provide. Minimize DOCUSIGN and go to your email. Copy the code. Return to DOCUSIGN and paste your access code. You now should be able to continue the process and pay by credit card. We know it’s working because many have already paid. All links were tested.

You’ll need your NYSUT ID to complete the process. You will find that ID at the top of the invoice mailed to you (to the left of the PSC logo).

If all else fails, pay the old-fashioned way – by check. Make out the check to the PROFESSIONAL STAFF CONGRESS. In the memo section of your check, write “annual retiree dues.”

Mail the check to:

Professional Staff Congress
61 Broadway
15th Floor
New York, NY 10006

Because the PSC Office is closed for the Covid-19 crisis and for the safety of our staff. the PSC does not regularly retrieve and process mail. Be patient. There will be a delay depositing your check. If you can, it’s best to pay by DOCUSIGN.


VACCINATIONS. Here is what we know about eligibility for vaccinations and their availablity. President Biden has set April 19 as the date when all Americans will be eligible for vaccination. As of April 6, everyone 16 and older is eligible in New York State. While eligibility is becoming more universal, availability differs from state to state and location to location.While the preponderance of our members live in NYC or its metropolitan area, our membership is scattered across the United States (and even overseas). The best sources of vaccination information are state, county and city department of health websites.

Who's next in your state's vaccine line? Go to this site, created, maintained and updated by the NY Times, to see who is eligible in your state.

New York City: As of April 6, residents 16 and over are eligible for vaccinations. PSC retirees should visit the "NYC health" website that enables scheduling vaccination appointments. For months, the availability of appointments, seemed to change with considerable frequency and from location to location. But as of late April, most NYC-run sites are offering walk-up vaccinations for New Yorkers. You do not need an appointment at these sites. (There is a free transportation service to vaccine appointments in Manhattan for seniors who are disabled, even if temporarily. Call Project Cart at 212-956-0855.}

What you can do once you are fully vaccinated. Recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

--Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age
--Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness.
--Travel domestically without a pre- or post-travel test.
--Travel domestically without quarantining after travel.
--Travel internationally without a pre-travel test depending on destination.
--Travel internationally without quarantining after travel.

--Visit indoors, without a mask, with people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
--Attend medium or large gatherings.

Some useful links provided the NYC Department of Health. We had a speaker from the NYC Department of Health Vaccine Command Center at our 2/1/21 chapter meeting who provided the following links:

Vaccine landing page:
Who is eligible?
Vaccine Command Center Site Suggestions:
Making an appointment:
Vaccine site locations for eligible New Yorkers:
Vaccine appointment phone number: 877-VAX-4NYC or 877-829-4692

Here are some key resources for sharing - these and more, all here in 13+ languages:

What New Yorkers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines
Flyer: Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19: Prevent the Spread Palm Card
COVID Facts Youtube Video
FAQ about the COVID vaccine

Another Useful Site for Finding Vaccination Appointments: Here is an unofficial site created by a few creative web developers to help find locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available in NYC:

NY State Updates. Go to the NY State Covid-19 Vaccine web page where you can check your eligibility and sign up for email and/or text updates.

New York State county health departments have set up COVID-19 vaccination sites for those over the age of 65 (over 60 as of March 10).. Announced on Friday, February 26, the clinics — which may be new vaccination sites or clinics at existing sites, depending on the county — include support staff to help seniors with vaccination paperwork, according to the state. Some facilities also include transportation assistance for getting them to and from the vaccine site, according to the state.

National Vaccine Finder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is supporting a centralized, national portal develped by Boston Children’s Hospital where the public can search for nearby vaccination locations with doses on hand. The site is presently operational for a few states; partially operational for others. The site is step by step adding capacity and by mid-March should be helpful for finding vaccine locations in all states. Go to:

Links to other state health department web pages on Covid-19 vaccinations:

Appointments at Pharmacy Chains. Several chains have set up appointment web sites. Here are two:



Dr. B. The standby list for leftover COVID vaccines.
Leftovers happen. People miss their appointments. Vials come with extra doses. Any thawed vials must be used within 6 hours, or they get thrown out. Looking to get vaccinated but can’t get an appointment? Join the standby list to get connected with local providers with extra doses.

When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated. Read the recommendarions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how "people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic".

What You Need To Know About Your Vaccine Card (NY Times). For now, the best way to show that you’ve been inoculated against the coronavirus is a simple white card. Here, your key questions answered.

"How to master the vaccine-appointment website: A guide for everyone:"
Here is a useful article from the Washington Post.

(A good summary of the frustrations seniors face in signing up for vaccination appointments is this Guardian article: Hours of scrolling, endless refreshing: US tech woes make scheduling vaccine a nightmare. And another in the Washington Post: Getting a coronavirus vaccine appointment fills me with despair. Every search ends in frustration, and I’m at a low point of a long, dark year.)

Vaccines 101: Dr. Jennifer Rosen from the Bureau of Immunization, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and her colleague Dr. Julian Watkins answered PSC members’ questions about the availability and the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines at two webinars on February 9. Members of the PSC Health and Safety Watchdogs committee also presented at the events organized by the PSC. Click the images below to view a recording of one or both webinars.