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RTC Section Spotlight

New Jersey members focused on November election

New York Teacher
New Jersey Section Coordinator Judy Rosenstein

New Jersey Section Coordinator Judy Rosenstein says activities put on hold during the pandemic will be back once the situation improves.

Retiree volunteers in New Jersey are ready to launch a telephone campaign to get out the vote for presidential candidate Joe Biden and all the other Democratic candidates on the state ballot in the crucial upcoming election, reports Judy Rosenstein, the coordinator of the Garden State’s RTC section.

For the second time this year, retiree activists will reach out to the more than 4,500 retirees who call New Jersey home. When the pandemic took hold in the spring, volunteers called retired colleagues to make sure they were safe and taken care of and to put those at risk in touch with UFT Social Services to arrange for whatever help they needed. They have kept in touch with retirees who asked for callbacks, as have retiree section volunteers across the country.

This time around, with the election just two months away, the New Jersey RTC section’s mission is political. Working in concert with labor councils and the American Federation of Teachers’ state affiliate — led by President Donna Chiera, who recently was elected as an AFT vice president to serve with AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, also an AFT vice president — the section volunteers are banking on repeating their success from the 2018 election when they flipped four Republican seats.

Mark Chaykin, the political point person for the New Jersey section, said virtual classrooms have been set up to train volunteers for their new political roles. “Polling right now looks good for incumbents,” he said. And with their victories two years ago, New Jersey Democrats are in a strong position. The challenge is to keep it that way and to fight for the top of the ticket and a Biden victory.

The threat of the coronavirus has made traditional door-to-door electioneering impossible. But Joyce Magnus, the RTC treasurer and Staten Island political action coordinator, said the spring outreach was “a beyond-brilliant idea” and New Jersey retirees are ready for the next round of calls. “We have plenty of volunteers,” she said, “because retirees stuck at home are looking for something to do.”

While politics is the section’s main focus now, Rosenstein reminds the state’s retirees that the activities put on hold by the pandemic, including Si Beagle courses and the two annual meetings, will return as soon as things get back to normal.