July 05, 2016
July/August Message from NYS Alliance for Retired Americans President Barry A. Kaufmann
It’s that time of year to reflect on NYSARA’s successes and identify future paths to take that improve the lives of our members.
The 2016 NYS legislative session was the first time that the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans (Educational Fund) has flexed its political muscle and truly gotten involved in trying to do things to convince our legislators to take action on issues that impact our 440,000 members. From visiting the majority, minority and IDC leaders in the Senate and the Speaker and Minority leader of the Assembly and laying out our agenda, to lobbying with our partners for our issues, to standing outside of the Senate Republican caucus room on the last day of the session to grab the Senators on their way in to convince them to support an increase to $15 of the minimum wage NYSARA brought a different and very influential new perspective to the deliberations. Many of our elected leaders didn’t initially understand how the minimum wage increases; paid family leave and the safe staffing act were SENIOR issues. We were able to exert influence to make our collective voices heard on our issues because these leaders know that the senior vote is a predictable and large demographic that they can’t ignore. NYSARA’s senior agenda was successfully promoted and many of its issues were successfully addressed.
Minimum Wage increase – check ✓
Paid Family Leave – check ✓
Defeat the proposal to have state workers pay for Medicare Part B contributions and increase their healthcare cost despite promises made prior to retirement. – check ✓✓
Slow down the establishment of an office for community living that combines the office for the aging and the office for disabilities – check ✓
Pass Safe Patient Staffing after 10 years of trying – Passed in the Assembly for the first time. This bill will be among our highest priorities and with our very active coalition, we see nothing stopping us from being successful.
NYSARA was also successful, with our partners, in passing municipal resolutions to stop the TPP trade deal in 25 communities and promoted a NYS Assembly resolution to take a position that the TPP should never be considered by the United States because of its anti worker anti senior agenda.
Several of NYSARA’s Senior agenda items have yet to be addressed and will be part of our 2017 agenda.
Our activists from all across the state were on picket lines with our Verizon brothers and sisters during their very successful strike action.
NYSARA (EF) has made progress or completed a majority of the thirteen (13) action items identified at my initial election in May of 2015.
✔ = Accomplished
- Communicate with all the ALF/CLC’s and NYSARA Chapters – ✔
- Establish 2 new NYSARA chapters – preliminary progress made
- Establish a NYSARA Monday alert – ✔
- Redo NYSARA website & update frequently – ✔
- Develop a Facebook presence – ✔
- Get at least 1,000 e mails of activists – ✔
- Approach 4 Unions not currently involved in NYSARA or its chapters to have its retirees join as per capita members – ✔ RWDSU and the TWU have joined…. Approached NYSNA, IAM and Postal Workers
- Approach AFL-CIO constituency groups – partial completion
- Do a strategic plan with the Board – Targeting Spring 2017 at in person meeting.
- Seek 5 additional community organizations to partner with – 2 thus far—Grey panthers and Workman’s Circle/Jewish Labor
- Improve communications with Board of Directors and NYSARA chapter President’s ✔
- Get additional Activist members – About 100 additional members thus far.
- Use Action Network to spread message and get turnout for events – ✔ Used 10 times in the last 6 months.
I have had the distinct honor and privilege of speaking to COMRO, NYSUT and PEF retiree groups and numerous other retiree/senior groups about the excitement of NYSARA and what we can accomplish. We are one of the most important advocates of issues that affect Seniors. We educate people about the REALITY of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the TPP and the Retirement Security Crisis. We are relevant and important. Our activism is IMPERATIVE if we are to defeat the forces that seek to put seniors back in poverty, as they were before our social security system was implemented. Thank you for all you are and for all you do.