December 2011 Issue
November 22, 2011

Retiree program celebrates 20 years

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue presents a plaque of appreciation to Pat Longo, the union's first retiree services manager. Photo by Andrew Watson.

Scores of retiree leaders traveled to NYSUT headquarters last month to participate in the Retiree Council 51-54 meeting. Retiree activists also took time to mark the 20th anniversary of the union's retiree councils and chart the course of retirees for the coming year.

In an address punctuated with chuckles and applause, Pat Longo, NYSUT's first retiree services manager, recounted the struggles retirees faced to establish the program. A video showcasing the group's involvement in the multi-year push to secure a Cost-of-Living Adjustment for retirees was a highlight.

"After working to help build NYSUT, we faced the challenge of building an organization that fit us in retirement," said Longo, who received a plaque recognizing his leadership. "But I did very little — it was the perseverance of all of you who built this retiree organization."

NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue encouraged retirees to remain politically active. "Things are downright ugly at the federal level, so we've got to keep it up — it's the only way to have our voices heard," said Donahue, who thanked retirees for their ongoing support of NYSUT disaster relief efforts.

Donahue also congratulated newly elected at-large director Joe McLaughlin and thanked outgoing director Ruth Dworkin for her years of service. "You are a backbone of this organization. Thanks for working so hard to carry out NYSUT's mission," she said.

Meeting participants also heard from Todd Crenshaw, retiree director of the National Education Association; and R. Michael Kraus and Thomas K. Lee of the NYS Teachers' Retirement System.

Resolutions approved during the event will be forwarded for discussion and voting among the greater retiree membership for submission to the Representative Assembly. Measures included a call for inflation protection equity for Optional Retirement Program retirees.