"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
Barbara Easterling - President
As president of the 4 million-member Alliance for Retired Americans, Barbara J. Easterling leads a grassroots organization that educates and mobilizes retirees for progressive campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels.
Easterling led the Alliance's successful efforts to pass the sweeping 2010 health reform law, a landmark act that will help millions of retirees better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. Easterling traveled the nation to rally seniors behind health reform and combat misinformation and scare tactics aimed at older Americans.
According to Easterling, "the Alliance is a unique and wonderful organization. No other group can bring progressive retirees together for legislative and political action. No other organization can bring together retirees from both labor unions and community groups. Simply put, the Alliance is about lifelong activism."
Easterling became Alliance president in February 2009, succeeding George J. Kourpias. She was re-elected to a full four-year term in April 2010 at the Alliance's national convention. In remarks following her election, Easterling said, "It is a great honor to serve as your president. You are the best grassroots activists in the nation, and I will do all that I can to help you."
In addition to her Alliance role, Easterling currently serves on a number of elected and appointed positions including: auditor of the International Trade Unions Confederation, member of the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, treasurer of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center, and member of the American Income Life Labor Advisory Board. She has been a leader in the fight to raise money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Easterling was the first woman to serve as secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, its second highest office. In 1995, she became the first woman in history to serve as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the 13-million member federation of labor unions.
Launching her telephone career as an operator at Ohio Bell, and joining CWA Local 4302 in Akron, Easterling incorporated the strong principles of trade unionism she learned as a child growing up in a Polish family of coal miners and rubber workers in Akron, Ohio. In 1980 she came to Washington, D.C. to serve as an assistant to the president of the union - a position she held until her election as executive vice president in 1985.
Easterling has received a broad range of honors and accolades during her union career. In 1985 she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, and she received the prestigious Women's Equity Action League award in 1986. In 1992 she received the Midwest Labor Press Association's Eugene V. Debs award. She also is the recipient of the International Women's Democracy Center Global Democracy award, the Ellis Island American Legend award and the March of Dimes Salute to Labor award.