Outreach Program Provides Benefits, Assistance For Retirees

Retirees in New York are Encouraged to Lobby

Originally posted in the fall 2011 edition of The Leader

Contrary to popular belief, not all retired union members bumble around their Florida homes in their fuzzy slippers reading the Sunday comics.

“Many of our retirees are concerned about what’s going on in our public schools even though they aren’t there,” said Ernest Logan, president of New York’s Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), AFSA Local 1. “It’s because they built them!”

CSA’s retiree chapter, CSARC, is an active group of administrators and supervisors who have been kept in the loop in part because of the outreach program that was established for the chapter.

“You’ve got to know where your folks are; number one. And you’ve got to know where they retire. It’s really about getting them involved,” said Logan.

Felice Hannah, the central outreach coordinator for CSARC, said their program has been very successful since its inception.

“I’m hopeful that the program we built in NYC will be established all over the United States,” said Hannah at AFSA’s West Coast Regional Leadership Conference in San Francisco. “All kinds of changes are coming out in terms of our needs for services, and I hope programs like the one we have established will be adopted everywhere.”

Among other services, Hannah provides ongoing training for regional outreach coordinators in Medicare, members’ benefits and Social Security. She also provides one-on-one confi-dential counseling to members and holds informational workshops during the year on varied topics, including paratransit services, hospital discharge assessments, caregivers’/respite services and home care services.

“Just because I may not be in the office when someone calls doesn’t mean I’m not working,” Hannah said. “When someone calls, I know they need help immediately, and I return phone calls within 24 hours after receiving them. People need help right then and there, and that’s what we do.”

Dee-Dee Goidel provides Pat Aramendia, executive director of the United Administrators of San Francisco, AFSA local 3, retiree-outreach information.

Another person who has firsthand experience engaging retired administrators is Dee-Dee Goidel. When CSA established the Retiree Chapter, she was elected first vice president and expanded the number of regional units around the country, bringing scores of retirees into active participation as political advocates for the union. Presently, she serves as the Retiree Chapter’s legislative liaison and focuses on protecting retirees’ health benefits and advocating for laws that help retirees. She also serves as a retiree representative to the NYS Federation of School Administrators.

“Retirees have a powerful voice,” Goidel said during AFSA’s conference. “They have the experience, they can represent the union and they have the time to go out and lobby while others are working.”

Goidel said that being a part of a union means not just worrying about yourself. You worry about those who came before you and you worry about those coming after you, she said.

Goidel also said retirees are some of the best lobbyists for the union, since they have been involved for a long time and understand the union and its members. They also are more likely to not be working during the day, giving them an opportunity that active members don’t have.

“When it comes to lobbying techniques from retirees, you don’t want to crowd someone’s office,” Goidel said. “And when you walk in there, you want to look like you’re still working—dress the part.”

Goidel said AFSA has ways for members and retirees to stay involved in education and union issues, including signing up for AFSA Action Alerts by clicking on the “Take Action” icon on AFSA’s webpage (archive.afsaadmin.org). “I got involved because we had a union leader who didn’t care,” said Goidel. “My husband said to me, ‘When did you become Norma Rae?’ ”