[ retirees in action ]

Union for Life!

Consultants encourage in-service unionists to stay active in retirement

By Kara Smith


NYSUT Union For Life Logo

nion for Life isn’t just a slogan — it’s a fact. And retiree consultants Ruth Shippee, RC 9 & 10, and Sheryl Baker Delano, RC 12 & 13, are sharing that message with in-service members throughout their regions, one meeting at a time.

After realizing that many in-service members weren’t aware NYSUT had a retiree services department, let alone the benefits it offers in retirement, the pair met with Capital Region Staff Director Mike Rowan to develop a plan to get the message out. “In-service members often retire and think their union involvement is over,” said Delano. “We want them to know their involvement doesn’t end. NYSUT offers a lot in retirement.”

Rowan arranged for the pair to meet with area labor relations specialists and helped them schedule speaking gigs at regional in-service local president meetings. In short 15-minute presentations they detailed how retiree groups are structured — from broad retiree councils to formal and informal retiree chapters and groups — and encouraged in-service members to join their local retiree organization and stay active after retiring.

“We need to keep our retirees engaged,” said Shippee, noting that the union offers many opportunities for retirees to get involved on their own terms, ranging from political action to public service. “RC 10 has contributed over $50,000 for a backpack program. We have members who volunteer at the regional food bank, and we have many social opportunities.”

An issue uniting both retirees and in-service members is fixing Tiers 5 and 6, something the statewide union is committed to fighting for in this year’s legislative session. Shippee noted that VOTE-COPE pension deduction forms are hot commodities at retiree meetings once members learn about the reduced benefits the newest pension tiers offer educators. VOTE-COPE is the statewide union’s voluntary, non-partisan political advocacy fund. Union dues do not fund VOTE-COPE.

Shippee uses a chart developed by Rod Sherman, RC 9, to detail the vast differences between earlier and newer tiers. “People almost fall out of their chairs when they see it in black and white,” she said.

Delano agrees. “My retirees fully support fixing Tier 6. We’re behind our in-service colleagues,” she said.

For more information, contact retiree.services@nysut.org.

Free Medicare Minute presentations available

Watch graphic

The Medicare Rights Center offers a series of free monthly Medicare Minute presentations to help NYSUT members learn more about their benefits and make the most of their Medicare coverage. Upcoming sessions cover a variety of topics, including Medicare and mental health care, and how to afford prescription drug costs. Medicare home health care benefits, including covered services, is the focus of the March presentation.

To register for the free online presentations, and see the full list of monthly webinars, visit www.medicareinteractive.org/medicare-minute/schedule.

florence mccue standing at podium

photos: Provided

NYSUT retiree Florence McCue, ED 51–53 at-large director, testifies before the Westchester Senate Delegation advocating for increased investments in public higher education and standing strong against lifting the cap on charters.

retiree council presenting Living the Legacy awards
Retiree Council 15/16 President Roni O’Connor, far right, presents AFT 50 year Living The Legacy awards to, from left, Irene Kanowitz and Kay Staplin of Somers Faculty Association and Diane Torstrup, Mt Vernon Federation of Teachers.