Florence McCue, ED 51-53 at-large director, welcomed retirees to the Retiree At-Large Contiguous meeting during the 44th annual NYSUT RA, and thanked them for their communication efforts over the past few months.
"Thank you for your wonderful newsletters. The quality keeps getting better and better," said McCue. "I'm excited to see that you're writing about the dangers of the [state] Constitutional Convention, and about the importance of voting and giving to VOTE COPE."
McCue also encouraged attendees to work on behalf of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "We really need to help deliver New York," she said. Clinton has been endorsed by NYSUT's national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
"We must be players in this game," said NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale, whose office oversees retiree issues. He thanked retirees for helping to change the narrative at the capital and urged them to keep up their political activism.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta and NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner agreed. "If we don't elect a Democrat in the presidential election, we lose the Supreme Court, which could destroy us for an entire generation," said Messner.
Pallotta recruited volunteers for the New York State Senate District 9 election on Long Island, where charter school proponents are pumping $1.3 million into the race for the seat held by former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. "They're trying to privatize schools, so we must get involved," he said.
Loretta Donlon, ED 51 director, stressed the importance of getting to the polls in April, May and November, sailing a paper airplane to illustrate her call to "fill the air with the word vote!" ED 53 Director Tom Murphy also underscored the importance of upcoming elections and encouraged members to support NYSUT-endorsed candidates. Rosemary Catanzariti, ED 52 director, cautioned retirees to seek union advice before making changes to Medicare coverage.
An unexpected highlight was a visit from New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who quipped: "Don't tell the active members, but I really love the retirees!" He noted that, despite a tough fiscal climate, both the TRS and ERS funds remain strong. He also thanked educators for "the great public school education I received from teachers like you."