June 23rd, 2024

UFT President Michael Mulgrew announces the withdrawal of his support for Medicare Advantage!


On June 23rd, UFT President Michael Mulgrew sent two letters - one to the Municipal Labor Committee and one to the members of the UFT - announcing his withdrawal of support for the City's Medicare Advantage plan and from the ongoing negotiations on in-service healthcare. It's a good development, and it's entirely due to Retiree Advocate's big win in the RTC chapter election. We did this together! Bennett's response to Mulgrew follows.


Statement from Bennett Fischer, Chapter Leader Elect of the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter

June 23, 2024

Retiree Advocate / UFT stands firmly against Medicare Advantage. We won the recent election in the Retired Teachers Chapter by a wide margin – and the main issue was opposition to Medicare Advantage. I am the Chapter Leader elect because UFT Retirees reject Medicare Advantage.

In the wake of this historic election, UFT President Michael Mulgrew is withdrawing his support for Medicare Advantage for NYC retirees and is also withdrawing from the on-going healthcare negotiations for the city's in-service employees. I welcome these developments.

President Mulgrew should have acknowledged that he is changing his position because elections have consequences. He could have acknowledged that he is taking these steps because Retiree Advocate wrested control of the 70,000+ Retired Teachers Chapter from his Unity caucus, and because he sees that his control of the UFT is slipping away.

The delays that President Mulgrew cites as his reason for withdrawing his support for Medicare Advantage and the in-service health benefit negotiations, are not due to any dawdling by the city, nor to any disagreements he has with the city, as he claims in his letter to the MLC. Until now, Michael Mulgrew and Mayor Adams have been on the same page.

In his separate letter to UFT members, President Mulgrew correctly acknowledges that the delay in implementing Medicare Advantage for NYC retirees is entirely due to the grassroots organizing done by NYC municipal retirees and by the successful lawsuits filed on their behalf by the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees.

I disagree with President Mulgrew's analysis. UFT retirees are neither fearful nor anxious. We are clear-eyed and steadfast in our opposition to the privatization of our public Medicare benefits. We are not the panicked old fogies that President Mulgrew pictures us to be.

As always in politics, watch what they do, not what they say. This whole health benefit mess was brought on by President Mulgrew himself. He made a unilateral decision to fund UFT raises with money from the City's Healthcare Stabilization Fund and agreed to pay it back, and then some, by scuttling retirees' health benefits.

This would never have happened if President Mulgrew had involved UFT retirees in the union's decision-making process.

UFT retirees need to be intimately involved in all UFT policy decisions that directly affect them. This is the platform that Retiree Advocate just won an election on. We call on UFT President Michael Mulgrew to support legislation in the NY City Council, and in Albany, to protect our Medicare & Supplemental health benefits on both the city and State levels.

The way forward must be together.


Bennett Fischer

Chapter Leader Elect, UFT Retired Teachers Chapter




• to stop being forced into any Medicare Advantage plan

• to fight for the promises made to us by the UFT and the City

• to keep the NYC health benefits we now have

• to allow RTC votes on issues of vital importance to retirees

• to continue SHIP, Si Beagle, and all RTC services

• to create a union chapter that gives its members a voice


Unity came for our healthcare. Can they be trusted with our pensions?


Check the box  for the entire Retiree Advocate/UFT slate



Retiree Advocate/UFT's slate of three hundred delegates has thousands of collective years of UFT experience. We are former chapter leaders, executive board members, and UFT Vice Presidents. We are educators of all titles who spent our careers in schools and classrooms, not in union offices. We have not lost sight of the responsibilities that our union owes to its retired members.

We spent our careers in the UFT and we pay our dues even in retirement. We lobby for the union, we canvass for the union, and we love the union. We raised union families, and we taught our children union values. We kept the union functioning in good times and in bad, and now more than ever we need a union that is responsive to us, a union that keeps its promises to us. The RTC Chapter Leader is supposed to represent us, not the city or the insurance companies.

The Unity leadership of the RTC has lost touch with union values, union democracy, and union reality. Retiree Advocate/UFT knows how to do the real work of Union.  Like you, we depend on the important information and services that the UFT offers: Welfare Fund and SHIP benefits, the Member Assistance Program, the Retiree Legal Plan, social events, our Si Beagle activities, and the Retired Paraprofessionals Support Program. The Retiree Advocate team will continue to provide and improve all those offerings.

Our entire Retiree Slate will listen to and involve UFT retirees in the decisions we make as a chapter. We will challenge our union to defend all the benefits that we earned. And we will fight like hell to keep traditional Medicare and Senior Care, as well as our Medicare Part B, High Option Rider, and IRMAA reimbursements.


Chapter Leader

Bennett Fischer - 29 years of service as teacher and UFT chapter leader at PS231K • RTC Healthcare Committee • UFT Department of Contract Empowerment 2019–2023

Vice Chair Leaders

Michael Shulman - Co-chair, New Action Caucus • 20-year chapter leader and delegate at Bushwick and Fort Hamilton HS • multiple-term UFT Executive Board member • UFT vice president for academic high schools, 1985–1987

Gregory Di Stefano - 55-year UFT member • 9 years, UFT Executive Board • UFT campaign activist

Ellen Fox - Veteran of UFT political campaigns • 12 years, UFT Executive Board

Arthur Goldstein - 39 years teaching • 12-year chapter leader, Francis Lewis HS • champion of class size reduction and resources for ELL students • 6 years, UFT Executive Board • frequent editorial writer in New York press outlets • authored NYC Educator blog and currently Union Matters on Substack



RA Executive Board Candidates


Gloria Brandman - 45-year UFT member • UFT, NYSUT, and AFT member organizer • 8-year UFT chapter leader and delegate • leader of Retiree Advocate's campaign against Medicare Advantage


Bobby Greenberg - UFT member since 1966 • National AFT labor campaign activist for 50 years • UFT chapter leader, JHS22M • delegate, Bronx Regional HS • RTC Healthcare and RTC Election Committees.

Assistant Secretary

Jonathan Halabi - Math teacher • 20-year UFT chapter leader, HS of American Studies at Lehman College • 11 years, UFT Executive Board • author of education blog, JD2718.

Assistant Treasurer

Michele Rayvid - 20-year District 15 ELL educator • 14-year CUNY adjunct • RTC Healthcare Committee • Cross-union Retirees Organizing Committee

Corresponding Secretary

Sheila Zukowsky - Chapter leader, Harbor Heights Middle School • UFT delegate at PS61M • RTC Healthcare Committee




Fred Arcoleo • Joel Berger • Novelette Foote • Daniel Harkavy • Doug Haynes • Prudence Hill • Bruce Markens • Dacio Quintana • Denise Rickles • Roque Ristorucci • Norm Scott • Alan Stein • Marian Swerdlow • Doris Wallace • Mary Therese Whelan