Executive Director Ed Coyle Announces His Intention to Retire

August 30, 2013

Edward F. Coyle, who has been the Executive Director of the Alliance since its launch in 2001, announced this week that he plans to retire soon. During his dozen-year stewardship of the Alliance, Mr. Coyle steadfastly supported seniors on Capitol Hill through numerous battles over Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; led the way for retirees to victories in key federal and state elections; and chartered 34 state Alliance affiliates with hundreds of local chapters. He said that he will stay until a successor is named.

In reaction to the announcement, Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, said, “With Ed at my side, I have always known that the Alliance’s positions would further the organization’s goals of economic justice and increased retirement security for all Americans. He has been a pleasure to work with. We are sorry to lose him as our Executive Director, but we hold on to his creative spirit and forceful energy that he brought to the job every day. I think that all of our activists and staff join me in wishing Ed the best and saying a gigantic, collective ‘thank-you.’”

“Ed has been a true leader, and he has done an outstanding job,” added Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “He has been there for all of us. He will be sorely missed, but he promises to keep in touch.”

Retirees Celebrate Labor Day
This Monday, September 2nd, retirees around the country will come together to celebrate the contributions that working people and labor unions have made to America. Today, far too few young people grow up learning about unions - and how joining together with a collective voice means improving the quality of life and achieving more for the middle class. Labor Day is an opportunity for retirees to share their personal stories with younger generations and talk about how they made improvements for their lives and families. “Workers joined together in unions are able to secure and maintain significantly higher wages, better health insurance and better benefits – including retirement benefits,” said Ms. Easterling. “Monday is a day to share that message.”

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew: Congress Must Raise Debt Ceiling by Mid-October
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has informed Congress that it must act to raise the debt ceiling by mid-October to avoid a catastrophic government shutdown. Far-right Republicans have declared their refusal to raise the debt ceiling unless the Affordable Care Act is repealed. While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has not stated his support for this plan, recent reports indicate that he instead plans to demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling and end the sequester. To learn more, read articles on the topic from The Washington Post at http://tinyurl.com/mvqm9rv and Politico at http://tinyurl.com/mm4ycrg.

U.S. Justice Department Sues Texas over Voter ID Law
The United States Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas in an attempt to overturn recent changes in the state’s voting law. The Justice department’s lawsuit against a new Texas law requiring voters to have a photo ID argues that the law is illegal under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans discriminatory voting rules. The Justice Department is also planning to become a co-plaintiff in a separate lawsuit, filed by civil rights groups, against a Texas redistricting plan.

Both the voter ID law and the redistricting plan were struck down by federal courts last year, but the state of Texas alleges that they are now legal due to the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which required Texas and 8 other states with a history of discriminatory voting laws to have any changes to their voting laws approved by the U.S. Justice Department or a federal court. The New York Times has more at http://tinyurl.com/pskgoh6.

“There is zero evidence that ‘voter fraud’ is a problem in this country,” said Mr. Coyle. “Seniors don’t always have photo identification. They should not be required to use their limited funds and spend hours standing in line to obtain a photo ID just to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of UMWA Retirees
A U.S. Appeals Court has overturned a lower court’s ruling, in a victory for United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) retirees. Last May, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Missouri issued a ruling for the case of Patriot Coal, a company that was created by Peabody Energy in 2007 with 43% of Peabody’s liabilities but just 11 percent of its assets. Patriot declared bankruptcy in 2012. The bankruptcy court ruled that Peabody coal was not responsible for paying the retiree health cost that Patriot had taken on, despite the fact that the vast majority of these retirees actually worked for Peabody and were never employed by Patriot. The new ruling from the Appeals Court overturns the previous ruling and states that Peabody is required to provide health care benefits for 3,100 retirees and their families. UMWA retirees are pleased by the victory but are continuing to fight to preserve their benefits in the wake of Patriot’s bankruptcy.  More at http://tinyurl.com/pnypgjr.

“While this fight is far from over, the appeals court absolutely made the right decision,” said Ms. Easterling. “Patriot Coal was designed to fail from the start, so that Peabody could avoid its obligations to retirees by transferring them to a soon-to -be bankrupt company.”

Nevada Alliance Holds its Convention
The Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans (NARA) held its convention in Las Vegas on Monday through Wednesday of this week. The entire NARA Administration Team, including all officers and the Board of Directors, was elected by acclamation. Scotty Watts remains NARA's President, and Jo Etta Brown the Treasurer. Gail Dietrich is the new Recording Secretary. The 90 attendees heard from U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV); Mo Denis, state Senate Majority Leader; Kim Wallin, State Controller; Ross Miller, Nevada Secretary of State; Kate Marshall, State Treasurer; Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada Attorney General; Danny Thompson, NARA Vice President and Nevada State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer; Mr. Coyle; Rich Fiesta, Director of Government and Political Affairs for the national Alliance; Steven Francy, AFSCME Retiree Coordinator; Erin Bilbray, congressional candidate; and several other notable speakers.

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