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Latest News on Retiree Health Insurance

January 5, 2024: PSC Files Amicus Brief Supporting Retirees’ Right to Medicare

As of December 2023: we have prevented NYC from making any changes to our retiree health insurance; there has been NO forced move to a Medicare Advantage plan.  Those of us who have NYC retiree health benefits have been able to keep the same health insurance we currently have.  This is because, with the help of our union, we have fought back: we have demonstrated, written letters, called our City Council members.  Most significantly, the City has lost three separate court cases—all of which were brought by the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, an ad hoc group of municipal retirees created specifically to fight off the Medicare Advantage move.  The City has appealed all three cases and has so far lost on one appeal.

New York City is not the only employer trying to force its retirees off Traditional Medicare and into an inferior private Medicare Advantage plan in order to save money.  This is a national crisis, not a local one.  To help explain what is going on, the Retirees Chapter has prepared a document, “Background Information on the Privatization of Medicare.” Please feel free to share it with fellow retirees or anyone you feel might benefit from the information.

Read the October, 2023 story in the Clarion, Another victory for retiree health care,” on the significant August court victory.  See What’s Happening to Our Healthcare to check on where things stand now and be sure to study the History and Timeline page to see how we got here.


Upcoming Chapter Events

May Chapter Meeting – Monday, May 6, 1pm

Impacts of Noise on Mental and Physical Health and Well-Being

This talk will highlight the growing number of studies that have linked noise to physiological and psychological disorders, e.g. hearing loss, stress, loss of sleep, cardiovascular disorders, learning.  These studies have validated the many complaints people make about noises from road traffic, aviation, construction and neighbors.  Furthermore, the talk will examine ways that noise impacts can be reduced: e.g., noise ordinances, quieter tools, less noisy aircraft, more respectful neighbors.


Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D.; Professor Emerita, CUNY, is a researcher, public advocate and consultant on the adverse impacts of noise on health worldwide and has been involved in working to lessen noise pollution for nearly five decades.  In New York City, she serves on the Board of GrowNYC and oversees its noise activities.  She assisted in the updating of the New York Noise Code in 2007 and is frequently quoted in The New York Times.

Brief Healthcare update.

As always, registration is required.  For registration information, contact [email protected]


For a list of past Chapter events, including links to the video recordings of the meetings, click on “Past Chapter Events” in the menu on the top of this page.


Chapter newsletters from 2010 to 2024 are available here.  The latest issue, April/May 2024 is available HERE.

Become a member

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

If you are already a member, but are not receiving our emails or our print newsletters, please fill out this form so we can track down the problem.


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:

Past Chapter Events

April Chapter Meeting – Monday, April 1, 1 pm


As we age, our living and care arrangements may change.  What should we know?  Fellow retiree Jim Cohen will speak about: Independent living, assisted living; private, public, non-profit ownership/regulation; costs; sources of financing; and resources for learning more.


Jim Cohen, Professor Emeritus, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Member, Retirees Chapter and PSC Standing Committee on Pensions. Jim has been researching living and care arrangements for Seniors for the past two years.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting.


March Chapter Meeting – Monday, March 4


As the big tech companies race each other to develop AI applications they think people might want, we are left by the side wondering what it is all about—who is it really for? what do we really need?   Meredith and Sarah will introduce us to enough about how AI works to break through the hype cycle and help us focus on who may benefit and what we may lose.


Meredith Whittacker is president of Signal Foundation, the critical private messaging application. Before joining Signal, she was the Minderoo Research Professor at NYU, and served as the Faculty Director of the AI Now Institute, which she co-founded. Prior to NYU, she worked at Google where she was a central organizer of the Google Walkout.

Sarah Myers West is the Managing Director of the AI Now Institute and a Visiting Research Scientist at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. She recently served a term as a Senior Advisor on AI at the Federal Trade Commission, and is a member of the OECD Expert Group on AI Futures.

Healthcare update, as necessary.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting.




Our featured speaker will be Manny Ness, professor of political science at Brooklyn College and international scholar and activist.  He will discuss his book: Migration as Economic Imperialism: How International Labor Mobility Undermines Economic Development in Poor Countries. The book demonstrates that migrant workers are necessary for rich countries yet they are under threat by the rise of populism and xenophobia. It is based on 10 years of research in origin states and destination countries—including Nepal, Moldova, Vietnam, Malawi, El Salvador and Western Europe, North American and key destinations in the Global South, the Arab Gulf States, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and Japan—and brings a labor union perspective.

The talk will discuss the recent migration wave in New York and the U.S., budget cuts, growth and regrowth, and the rise of intolerance.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting.




Everything we experience in our city– the buildings and the open spaces– reflect and constitute the divisions of class, religion, culture and immigration status.

How can an awareness and commitment foster and organize for progressive-humane change? What can move us forward?

Fellow retirees, Architect Alan Feigenberg and City Planner Tom Angiotti, will share information, their perspectives, and their active involvement, and encourage an open-ended dialogue.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting.



”Worse Than McCarthyism”: The Current Political Attacks on Academic Freedom and Higher Education.


  • Ellen Schrecker of Yeshiva University, who will discuss academic freedom issues with an historical and contemporary lens.
  • Katie Rainwater of Florida International University, who will comment on the current situation in Florida.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting.


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2023 – 1pm 

Environmental Justice: Climate Crises and Action


Rebecca Bratspies, CUNY Law School, Director Center for Urban Environmental Reform – will trace how the legacy of public and private discrimination created New York City’s current environmental injustices, and will describe some of the most promising initiatives for building equity and justice into the City’s environmental decision-making.

Cecelia McCall, PSC Environmental Justice Working Group liaison to Third Act – will speak about an exciting, activist organization for seniors and retirees.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting.


MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2023 – 1pm

Lessons from the 2022 Elections: Relevance for 2024
The 2022 elections for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York State saw a major shift as four Democrats were replaced by Republicans, which was crucial to the Republicans taking control of the House.   Why did this happen, and what do the events of 2022 suggest for political action in the 2024 elections?


  • Nicki Richardson, NYSUT Political Director
  • John Tarleton, Editor, Indypendent; former Assoc. Editor Clarion
  • Liz Stevenson, NYCCT, PSC VOTE-COPE Coordinator

HERE is a link to the video of the meeting.


Topic: STATE OF THE UNIONS: National and Local 


  • Ruth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. She will provide us with data and analysis of nationwide union trends in 2022-2023.
  • James Davis, President, PSC, will review the role of the PSC in our healthcare struggle set in the context of a broader union agenda over the past year. We’ll hear about the challenges and successes and a vision for us going forward.
  • Anne Friedman, Chair, Retirees Chapter will offer a brief introduction to the chapter, reflect on the work we’ve done in 2022- 2023 and look toward the next academic year’s goals.

Retiree Health Insurance: Updates on retiree health insurance.

HERE is a link to the video of the meeting.


MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2023

Special meeting on healthcare. HERE is a link to the video of the meeting.


MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2023

Special meeting on healthcare.  HERE is a link to a video of the meeting.


MONDAY, MAY 1, 2023 — 1-3:30

Part 1 — Penny Lewis (PSC Secretary) and Carolina Bank Muñoz (Brooklyn College Chapter Chair), PSC leaders, activists and CUNY authors, discussed their book, A People’s Guide to New York City, which chronicles struggles for justice and freedom by working people that have shaped the very landscape and multi-cultural history of the city.
Part 2 — Updates on what is happening in retiree healthcare.

A video of the meeting can be viewed here.  The second part of the meeting on healthcare begins at the 51 minute mark.


FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2023 — 10AM

In conjunction with the May 1 Chapter meeting, Penny Lewis led a “Capitalism and Protest” walking tour of lower Manhattan on Friday, May 5. The tour was 1 ½ hours, covering about 1 ½ miles and ending with a lunch at Fraunces Tavern.


FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2023

PSC debrief in response to Aetna Information Session.  HERE is a link to the video of the meeting.


MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2023 — 1 – 3 PM

Part 1:  The theme of the chapter meeting was “Labor and the World.”  It explored labor through history and culture with presentations from the New York Labor History Association (Irwin Yellowitz), American Labor Studies Center (Paul Cole) Labor Arts (Evie Rich), the Working Theater (Laura Carbonell Monarque) and the Labor Chorus (Robert Greenberg).
Part 2:  Retiree healthcare.
Click here to view a video of the meeting.  Part 2 on healthcare begins at the 1:04 mark.


MARCH 31, 2023

Several hundred NYC retirees supported by active union brothers and sisters demonstrated in protest at City Hall.  Watch a video HERE.  (Starting at the 38 minute mark, view three PSC speakers — Cecelia McCall, Jen Gaboury and Evie Rich).


SPECIAL CHAPTER MEETING ON MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2023 — 1 PM, on NYC moving retirees to Aetna Medicare Advantage and removing NYC Senior Care as a premium-free option.  Click here for a video of this meeting.


MONDAY, MARCH 6, 2023 — 1 – 3 PM
Contingent Faculty Changes the Face of U.S. Higher Education

The program examined the fundamental change in U.S. higher education from a full time, tenured faculty to one increasingly dominated by contingent and part time instructors, and how this continuing development affects higher education and its workers. Speakers addressed the national and local context.
  • Glenn Colby, Senior Research Officer, American Association of University Professors
  • Barbara Bowen, PSC Immediate Past President (2000-2021)
  • Lynne Turner, PSC Vice President for Part-time Personnel

Part two of the meeting was an update on healthcare.

A video of the meeting can be viewed here.  The second part of the meeting on healthcare begins at the 1:17 mark.


MONDAY, FEB. 6, 2023

As PSC members we fight for the common good. This includes, of course, our efforts around healthcare and the safety net.  Advocacy for a livable planet is part of the same fight.  As a follow up to an earlier program presented by our PSC Working Group on Environmental Justice, we will look more specifically at ways to control the negative impact of climate change on our lives, including those under consideration by New York State as well as the potential role of nuclear power.Speakers:

  • Anne Reynolds – Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, based in Albany.
  • Len Rodberg – Long time chair of the Urban Studies Department, and now Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies, at Queens College/CUNY.

Part 2 of the meeting was an update on our health insurance crisis.A video of the meeting can be viewed here. The second part of the meeting on healthcare begins at the 1:57 mark.



Special chapter meeting on the latest retiree healthcare developments.  James Davis, PSC President, Dean Hubbard, PSC Executive Director, Debbie Bell, past PSC Executive Director, and others will bring us up to date and answer questions.  A video of the meeting can be viewed here.



  • PART ONE: Presentation and discussion on how the Espionage Act weaponizes attacks on free speech by the authors of A Century of Repression: The Espionage Act and Freedom of the Press.
    Ralph Engelman is senior professor emeritus of journalism and communication studies at Long Island University, Brooklyn, and faculty coordinator of the George Polk Awards. He is the author of Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History and Friendlyvision: Fred Friendly and the Rise and Fall of Television Journalism.
    Carey Shenkman is a constitutional lawyer and litigator focusing on freedom of expression, transparency, and technology. He serves on the panel of experts of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression Program, and consults on media rights issues before the United Nations and around the world.
  • PART TWO: Update on Retiree Healthcare
  • HERE is a link to video of the meeting.  The update on retiree healthcare begins at the one hour nine minute mark.



Part I:  The Asian American Community: Fighting Racism

Moderator: Carol Huang, CCNY, Sec’y Asian-American Research Institute

Van Tran, CUNY Graduate Center: A brief summary of discrimination against Asian-Americans including racial exclusion in immigration laws to internment of Japanese Americans in WWII to the present.

Ravi Kalia, CCNY and the Asian American/Asian Research Institute: Presentation on CUNY’s Asian-American Research Institute and its role in CUNY’s new Black, Race and Ethnic Studies Initiative

Elaine Chiu: Inaugural Chairperson, Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law: Presentation on the spike in anti-Asian American racist incidents in the city.

Part II: Update on Medicare Advantage and Code Change.D

HERE is a link to a video of the 11/7 chapter meeting.  The second part of the meeting, on retiree healthcare, begins at the one hour twenty-nine minute mark of the video.





Prof. Susan Kang, John Jay. Chairperson, Political Science; PSC EC, Senior College Officer; NYCDSA member; occasional commentator on NY 1; author, Human Rights and Labor Solidarity: Trade Unions and the Global Economy

Luke Elliot-Negri, PSC Legislative Representative; PSC EC, University-wide Officer; writes extensively on politics and the labor movement; co-author: Gains and Losses: How Protestors Win and Lose

Kate Pfordresher, recently retired PSC Political and Policy Director; volunteer for Working America, a non-profit organization seeking to reach non-union workers

Peter Hogness, Past award-winning editor Clarion (15 years); volunteer for Seed the Vote, which supports grassroots organizing in swing states.

Follow-up linss on the 2022 Election
–Susan Kang provided an overview and context.  The other speakers pointed to important links for those who want to volunteer to do election work in key races.
–Luke Elliot-Negri discussed how to get involved with the PSC’s canvassing efforts in Philadelphia, Staten Island, Nassau County, as well as phone banking for House and Senate candidates. The form to sign up is here:
You can contact Luke at: [email protected]
–Kate Pfordresher described Working America, an organization started by labor unions.
Their home page is:
–Peter Hogness works with Seed the Vote, which partners with grassroots organizations in working class communities:
Clarion article on Seed the Vote, includes link to a discussion on the midterms with Bill Fletcher, longtime labor strategist & editors, and Mario Yedidia, national field director of UNITE-HERE:
Feel free to contact Peter Hogness with questions: [email protected], 646-425-8953.


HERE is a link to a video of the 10/3 chapter meeting.  The second part of the meeting, on retiree healthcare, begins at the one hour fifteen minute mark of the video.



Topic: STATE OF THE UNIONS: National and Local


Ruth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. Her most recent books are:  Immigration Matters(co-edited with Deepak Bhargava and Penny Lewis, New Press, 2021), Immigrant Labor and the New Precariat(Polity, 2020) and On Gender, Labor and Inequality(Illinois, 2016).

Prof. Milkman presented an analysis of recent unionization trends in New York and the nation, including some discussion of the uptick in organizing in the past year.

James Davis, President, PSC. It’s been a whirlwind year for our union and President Davis discussed what it means to be an activist union. We’ll hear about the challenges and successes of this year and a vision for us going forward.

Anne Friedman, Chair, Retirees Chapter.  Prof. Friedman briefly reviewed the work of the chapter over the summer and offer thoughts on moving ahead in 2022-2023.

Retiree Health Insurance:

We again set aside time at the end of the meeting to discuss importnat updates on retiree health insurance (if any) and to answer questions.

VIDEO OF 9/12/22 CHAPTER MEETING.  The first hour of the video features speakers on the state of the union(s).  A discussion of latest developments in retiree healthcare begins at the one hour, six minute segment of the video.  Click HERE to view the video.



The retiree chapter presented a special virtual program to celebrate on Monday, June 6th. Here is a video of the full program.

    Here is the program with time marks in parentheses indicating where in the video you access that section:
  • Irwin Yellowitz, PSC History from 1972-1997 (27:30)
  • Lilia Melani, CUNY Women’s Class Action Suit (42:35)
  • Barbara Bowen, Retrospective on her PSC Presidency (55:00)
  • Cecelia McCall, History of PSC Legislative Work since 2000 (1:13:00)
  • Slide Show, Fifty Years of Images and Memorable PSC Moments (1:22:00)
  • James Davis, Moving Forward (2:03:00)



Pushing for Universal Healthcare: Possibilities and Challenges;


  • Richard Gottfried: Assemblyman Gottffried, retiring at the end of the year, is the longest-serving legislator in NYS history and chair of the Assembly Committee on Healthcare. Thirty years ago, he first proposed the single payer New York Health Act. He is arguably the most tireless legislative advocate and organizer for health care reform and universal health care in New York state.
  • Mark Dudzic is the national coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer. For 18 years, Dudzic was president of Local 8-149 of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW) and is chair of the U.S. Labor Party./li>
  • Len Rodberg is Professor Emeritus in Urban Studies at Queens College, a consultant for the NY Health Act and a board member of Physicians for a National Healthcare Program.

Discussion followed their presentations. There was a brief update on what’s happening to retiree healthcare.

Here is a video of the meeting. Here is a PDF of Len Rodberg’s slides on Medicare privatization.



Part One: Is American Democracy as we know it in peril?
Speakers included:
Steve London, holds a joint appointment at Brooklyn College and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) and is past First-Vice President of the PSC, where he headed its legislative operations.

Rose Mendelsohn is Organizing Director of Seed the Vote, an organization dedicated to grassroots voter mobilization in swing states (e.g. Arizona in the general election and Georgia in the Senate runoff in 2020-21).

Tiffany Brown, PSC Legislative Coordinator, has rich experience in Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operations in closely contested elections.

Part Two: Updates and info session on retiree healthcare.

Here is a video of the April 4 meeting.



The meeting was in two parts:

Part 1: A NY State Climate Agenda. There is a bold package of twelve urgently needed climate bills currently before the NY State Legislature. Peter Iwanowicz, the Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY, guided us through the legislation. Iwannowicz is a former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and was the very first director of the New York State Office of Climate Change.

Discussion followed,

Part 2: Healthcare Updates on the current status of retiree healthcare changes in light of judge’s March 3 ruling.

The meeting was recorded and is available HERE.



The meeting focused on HEALTHCARE.

Welfare Fund benefits. Donna Costa, Executive Director, and Patrick Smith, Communications Director provided an overview of Fund benefits.

An analysis of the proposed retiree healthcare changes. We provided some history and context for the proposed move of NYC retiree healthcare benefits from traditional Medicare to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan. Discussion followed. Speakers: Josh Freeman on the labor movement and healthcare; Barbara Caress on the history of healthcare negotiations between the Municipal Labor Committee and NYC. Freeman is a Distinguished Professor of Labor History (CUNY Graduate Center/Queens College) who has written extensively on U.S. and NYC labor. Caress teaches healthcare policy (Baruch/Sarah Lawrence) and is a consultant for the PSC.

Updates on the current status of retiree healthcare changes.

You can watch a full video of the meeting here.

THE POWER TO HEAL: A VIRTUAL FILM SHOWING AT 6 PM, MONDAY, FEB. 7. Power To Heal is an hour-long documentary about a dramatic chapter in the historic struggle to secure equal and adequate access to healthcare for all Americans. Central to the story is how a new national program, Medicare, was used to mount a momentous, coordinated effort that desegregated thousands of hospitals across the country practically overnight.

Followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Barbara Berney. Dr. Berney, a member of our chapter, is a distinguished scholar in public health, environmental justice, and the U.S. health care system and an Emeritus Associate Professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Management.

The retiree chapter and the Retiree Anti-Racism Committee are co-sponsors together with NY Labor History Association, Labor Arts and the NYU Tamiment-Wagner Collections.



A look at the changing political landscape of New York state and NYC in the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation and the election for city-wide offices and City Council in the five boroughs. What does this mean for CUNY’s funding, for the union’s next contract, for the “New Deal for CUNY,” for the NYC labor movement and for the issues most important to our retirees.

Speakers: Luke Elliot Negri — Chair of the PSC Legislative Committee, Renee Freeman Butler — Coordinator PSC Vote Cope, Bettina Damiani – PSC Legislative Director.

Vincent Alvarez, President NYC Central Labor Council. Lucia Gomez, Political Director, NYC Central Labor Council.

Retiree Healthcare? We devoted the final 45 minutes of the chapter meeting to updates on retiree healthcare.

The meeting was recorded. You can view the here. The second part of video devoted to retiree healthcare begins at one hour seventeen minutes of the video.



The chapter meeting was in two parts.
1 PM.
Policing in our cities and its alternatives. Speakers listed below.
2:30 PM. Updates on retiree healthcare changes.

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, activists, policy makers and academics are focusing intensely on the role of police in our society. Our panel addressed the realities of policing on the ground in our cities, especially in New York City. Panelists discussed police brutality and the expansion of the role of law enforcement into areas of mental health and drugs.

Alex S. Vitale
is professor of sociology and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. He has spent the last 25 years writing about policing and consults both police departments and human rights organizations internationally. He is the author of City of Disorder: How the Quality-of-Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics and The End of Policing. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, NY Daily News, and USA Today.

Christina Sparrock, is a certified public accountant and mental health advocate for the Fountain House. She has worked with the NYC Police Department on de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention when dealing with those in emotional crisis.

Jawanza Williams is a social justice activist and the director of youth organizing for Voices of Community Activists and Leaders (VOCAL-NY), a grassroots organization that advocates for social reform in policing, the treatment of narcotics users and aiding victims of housing insecurity.

2:30 PM. We discussed important updates on Retiree Healthcare now that a judge has extended the opt-in/opt-out enrollment period beyond October 31.

The meeting was recorded. Click here for the video. The updates on retiree healthcare begin at the one hour and 30 minute mark of the video.



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.



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


Monday, June 14, 2021— 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, 2021
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, 2021 — 1 pm

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, 2021 — 1 PM

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, 2021, 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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.



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 August 31, 2020 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.



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.


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