ALL CHAPTER EVENTS ARE
VIRTUAL DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
MUNICIPAL LABOR COMMITTEE VOTES TO CHANGE RETIREE HEALTH INSURANCE:
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.
For important information on the change (and how to navigate it) and for the chapter's response and advocacy, click HERE.
UPCOMING EVENTS. Scroll to bottom of this page for details. Next chapter meeting is Monday, November 1.
VIDEO OF OCTOBER 4 CHAPTER MEETING can be accessed here.
RETIRED -- BUT NOT A MEMBER OF THE CHAPTER? Click the link below for information on dues and how to JOIN online:
RENEWING MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021-22. You should have received an invoice for retiree dues for the coming academic year. We ask members to pay dues online at https://www.psc-cuny.org/RetireeDues. You will need your NYSUT ID to complete the process. The ID appears on the top section of your invoice to the left of the PSC/CUNY logo. If you have questions, contact the membership department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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).
FALL BOOK SERIES: The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee.
This fall the Retirees Chapter Anti-Racism Committee is sponsoring a discussion series of the recent best-selling book The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” by Heather McGhee (One World/Random House, 2021, pp.396, hardcover or Kindle). The first session will begin on Zoom Tuesday, October 12, 2-4 pm and will continue for four more Tuesday afternoon sessions in October and November. For more information, click here.
SPECIAL MEETING ON THE PSC PALESTINE/ISRAEL RESOLUTION will take place on Wednesday, October 20, 1 – 3 pm. The Retiree Chapter’s Executive Committee is working on the logistics of the meeting on the PSC Palestine/Israel resolution to facilitate the fullest discussion – pro and con. We’ll send Zoom registration information to members for the meeting in early October. (The August Clarion covers the controversy over the resolution here.) The meeting will only be open to members of the PSC Retirees Chapter.
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY NOVEMBER 1, 1 - 3 PM:
The topic is policing and alternatives to policing. Speakers will include Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing. He will be joined by several leaders from grassroots community groups (to be announced).
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1-3 PM.
We are inviting speakers to assess the changing political landscape in the state and city -- and what it means for the PSC and CUNY. In January NYC will have a new mayor, city council and comptroller and with the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, the state has a new governor.
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING MONDAY OCTOBER 4. 1-3 PM ON ZOOM. Healthcare - The meeting was in two parts.
PART ONE: Speakers contextualize what is happening with healthcare for seniors. Barbara Caress poke on the history of Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs (with a particular focus on the NYC plan). She has more than 40 years of experience as a union, nonprofit, and public agency manager, consultant, and administrator. Presently, she teaches public health care policy at both Baruch College and the Graduate Program at Sarah Lawrence College and has been hired as a consultant by the PSC to help us navigate issues of retiree health care. Barbara Katz Rothman, a Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, commented. She is a recipient of the Jesse Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association and a Distinguished Chair in Health Sciences from the Fulbright Association. Her most recent book (2021, Stanford University Press) is The Biomedical Empire - Lessons Learned from The Covid -19 Pandemic.
PART TWO: We then segued into AN INFORMATION SESSION like our 9/13 chapter meeting about what we need to know during the enrollment period for NYC retiree healthcare changes ending October 31. HERE is a video of the meeting..
OPENING CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1 PM. The retiree chapter's initial meeting every academic year is on the “State of the Unions(s).” However, we also needed to address the changes in retiree healthcare. Hence the meeting was divided into two parts.
1. State of the Union(s). Our speakers were James Davis, PSC President (on the state of our union) and Ruth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, and the director of research at CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (on the state of the union movement).
2. Retiree Healthcare.. Starting at 2 pm, we devoted the rest of the meeting to issues and concerns about the changing Medicare coverage.
ZOOMED OUT. Infuriating! After 1:30 pm, Zoom blocked several members from entering our 9/13 CHAPTER MEETING, stating that there was a limit of 300. There was no such limit. In fact, 551 people attended the meeting; 762 registered. Our apologies to those excluded. The meeting included a 90-minute discussion on the upcoming changes to retiree healthcare. HERE IS THE LINK TO THE VIDEO OF THE MEETING. The second part of the meeting, dealing with retiree healthcare, begins at the 59 minute mark.
Videos of Two Information Sessions on Retiree Healthcare
- Video of Alliance and OLR Information Session for PSC Retirees on August 30, 2021.
- Video of Alliance Information Session for PSC Retirees on July 27, 2021
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.
Monday, May 3, 1 pm -- CUNY NEW DEAL/RETIREE HEALTHCARE
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.
Monday, April 5, 1 pm - IS THE CITY SWITCHING RETIREES
TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE?
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.
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.
WE WATCHED CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S MODERN TIMES ONLINE (FOR FREE) – THEN JOINED RETIREE COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS FOR A ZOOM DISCUSSION ON MARCH 15.
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gLa4wAia9g
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.
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, MARCH 1, 1-3 PM
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 email@example.com for the link.
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1-3 PM
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.
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING. MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 1 – 3 PM
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.
- How to Recognize Your White Privilege – and Use it to Fight Inequality by Peggy McIntosh, Wellesley College.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject head "January 11 Recording."
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING. MONDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1 – 3 PM
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.
VIRTUAL CHAPTER MEETING, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1 - 3 PM.
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 Deale (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 -- https://tinyurl.com/HognessOpEd.
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 https://tinyurl.com/retirees831. 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.