Campaign Kick-off Press Release

From: Retiree Advocate/UFT 

For release February 16, 2024


Retiree Advocate/UFT seeks leadership of the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter — fighting to preserve Medicare benefits


Retiree Advocate/UFT is a political caucus in the Retired Teachers Chapter (RTC) of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

We will challenge the Unity caucus with a full slate of three-hundred retired educators - teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists, counselors, nurses, secretaries and other UFT titles - in the triennial chapter elections this spring.

For nearly three years Retiree Advocate/UFT, and our allies from across the spectrum of NYC municipal unions, have been fighting to preserve our traditional Medicare benefits, as they face attacks from the mayor's office, the Municipal Labor Committee, and our own UFT leadership. Health care decisions should be between us and our doctors. Private insurance corporations should not profit at the expense of our health. We will work to preserve and strengthen NYC laws that protect our benefits.

Retiree Advocate's team of officer candidates

  • Bennett Fischer: RTC Chapter Leader candidate 29 years of service as teacher and UFT chapter leader at PS231K ● RTC Healthcare Committee ● UFT Department of Contract Empowerment 2019 - 2023.
  • Gloria Brandman: 45-year UFT member organized members in the UFT, NYSUT, and AFT ● UFT chapter leader and delegate for eight years ● has led Retiree Advocate's campaign against Medicare Advantage.
  • Gregory Di Stefano: 55-year UFT member 3 terms on the UFT Executive Board ● veteran of numerous UFT political campaigns.
  • Ellen Fox: 4 consecutive terms UFT Executive Board devotee of UFT politics ● deeply committed to expanding democracy in our union and in our chapter.
  • Arthur Goldstein: 39 years teaching 12-year Chapter Leader, Francis Lewis HS ● fought for class size enforcement and for resources for ELL students ● 2 term UFT Executive Board member ● frequent editorials in New York press. ● authored NYC Educator blog ● now writes Union Matters on Substack.
  • Bobby Greenberg: UFT member since 1966 worked on national labor campaigns with the AFT dating back to 1970's. ● UFT chapter leader at JHS22M delegate, Bronx Regional HS member RTC Healthcare and RTC Election committees.
  • 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.
  • Michele Rayvid: District 15 ELL educator CUNY adjunct ● member RTC Healthcare Committee ● member Cross-union Retirees Organizing Committee
  • Michael Shulman: co-chair of the New Action Caucus of the UFT UFT Chapter Leader and delegate for 20 years at Bushwick HS and Fort Hamilton HS ● many terms on the UFT Executive Board ● UFT Vice-President of Academic High Schools, 1985-1988
  • Sheila Zukowsky: chapter leader, Harbor Heights Middle School UFT delegate at PS61M member of the RTC Healthcare Committee.


Bennett Fischer said that "First and foremost, I intend to be an attentive, meticulous, and empathetic chapter leader; one who will listen, allow real debate, and involve RTC members in the chapter's decision-making process. No more rubber stamps for Michael Mulgrew. Retiree Advocate will work arm-in-arm with UFT leadership when we can, and we will stand up to them when we must. We will never, ever, support city or union policies that undermine the health benefits we earned over the course of our careers."

Asked about the campaign, Gloria Brandman said, "No more of Mulgrew and Murphy's 'we know what's best for you' approach. No changes to our healthcare without members’ input! #NoMedicareAdvantage." Arthur Goldstein added, "We will work with NYC Retirees to retain our health benefits and preserve the real Medicare we’ve been promised all our careers. We won’t worry about how it makes Michael Mulgrew feel, and we won’t be beholden to him or his elite, invitation-only caucus."

Jonathan Halabi emphasized, “The job of the leadership is to protect our pension and our healthcare; Unity and Tom Murphy have not protected our healthcare.” Sheila Zukowsky pointed out, "The UFT Retired Teachers Chapter needs a new broom to restore democracy and member welfare to the forefront. Retiree Advocate is that new broom."


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  • Bennett Fischer