February 25, 2011

Alliance Members Nationwide Support Their Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin

Alliance members across the country took part in events that showed support for their fellow union members this week, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) remained determined to end most of the collective bargaining rights held by public workers for decades. Across the industrial Midwest, Republicans are trying to roll back the powers of not just public-employee unions, but also the bargaining and dues-collecting power of groups that represent auto workers and carpenters. On Saturday, February 26, at noon local time, the group MoveOn.org is teaming with labor and their supporters to organize rallies in front of every statehouse in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin.  To find an event near you, go to http://bit.ly/fApB1K.  “State workers in Wisconsin are not alone in this fight,” saidBarbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Retirees from coast to coast are with them every step of the way!”

A statement from Wisconsin Alliance (WIARA) President Leon Burzynski, as well as photos and video, are available at http://bit.ly/dWN2Kh. WIARA Flickr photos can also be viewed athttp://bit.ly/fRgWVs. For more information on the latest goings-on in Wisconsin, visit the Milwaukee-area Labor Council web site at http://bit.ly/fTMlZ7 or the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO web site at http://bit.ly/hAGcIH. Also, Alliance Community Advocacy Board Member John Jensencreated a YouTube video on the Madison, Wisconsin protests. Go to http://bit.ly/gvbke3 to see it.

The AFL-CIO and SEIU held solidarity events with Alliance members in dozens of states across the country, including – but not limited to – AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, IN, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NV, NC, NY, NM, OH, OR, PA, RI, TX, VA, VT, WA, and WI. Events included a protest at the DC office of Gov. Walker. Go to http://bit.ly/hXi5f3 for photos. Nevada, DC and Washington State photos are available at http://on.fb.me/hsVGzJ and http://bit.ly/dUZuIh. Arizona Alliance President Doug Hart, Roman Ullman and several other Alliance members helped organize and attended an event in Phoenix on Tuesday, and a Hartford, Connecticut rally included activist George Corneliusson and other retired Teamsters. The Florida Alliance co-hosted a solidarity rally on Thursday night in Orlando. To send us stories about your rallies or messages for the Wisconsin workers, e-mail ARACommunications@retiredamericans.org.

House Republicans Vote to Cut Social Security Administration Dramatically

At 4:40 A.M. last Saturday, the House voted 235-189 in favor of a spending bill (H.R. 1) for the remainder of this fiscal year that would cut the funding of the Social Security Administration (SSA) by a total of $1.7 billion below what is needed to maintain promised service levels and current projects.  This would shut down Social Security offices for one month of the seven remaining this year; eliminate 3,500 jobs; delay payment of earned benefits for hundreds of thousands of retirees, survivors, and disabled workers; and force SSA to ignore billions of dollars in overpayments that could be returned to the trust fund.  The action came despite a veto threat from President Obama. A tally of how each House member voted on the spending bill is available at http://bit.ly/eu7iSq. Earlier, last Friday, the House had voted 239-187 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to block Congressional funding for implementation of the health care reform law. A tally of that vote is now available at http://bit.ly/ibYH8s.

California Retirees Protest the “BS”; Washington State Hosts Social Security Forum

On President’s Day, the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) joined forces with the Monterey Central Labor Council (MCLC) and the Raging Grannies activist group to protest the “B.S.” at the Monterey Bay Conference Center. The protest took place during a talk featuringErskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairmen of the President’s Fiscal Commission, which has advocated for raising the retirement age and lowering payments to Social Security beneficiaries. The crowd, jokingly called a bunch of “rowdy old folks” by CARA President Nan Brasmer, protested past nightfall. The retiree activists carried shovels, buckets and colorful signs with phrases like “Bowles + Simpson = BS”, “Hands off Social Security”, and “Social Security is Not in Crisis.”

On Saturday, the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans sponsored a forum on Social Security at Spokane Community College. The event drew a crowd of over 100 seniors, middle-aged workers, and students and included an appearance by representatives of the Washington Congressional delegation. The forum featured Dani Pere, Director of Field Mobilization for the Alliance, as well as other speakers. This was the first field event that the Alliance has held as a part of a grant funded by the National Association of Social Insurance (NASI).

Affordable Insurance to Supplement Medicare Available for Alliance Members

Affordable insurance supplemental to Medicare is available through the ARA Retiree Health Plan.  The Open Enrollment period is currently in effect through March 31, 2011!  During this period, Medicare-eligible retirees and their spouses are guaranteed acceptance with no waiting periods, regardless of pre-existing health conditions.  If you have questions, need an enrollment packet or would like to enroll over the phone, please call 1-866-298-9117.  You can also visithttp://www.araretireehealth.com to get more information.

Alliance Convention: September 6 – 9, 2011

Help us mark our 10-year Anniversary at our upcoming Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6 – 9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Take part in the discussion on the direction that our country should take concerning Social Security and pensions. Workshops will include, among others: Barbarians STILL at the Gate: Social Security and Entitlement “Reform”; Everyday Activities to Help Build Your State Alliance Budget; and How to Organize On-Line. Any questions, please contact Joni Jones, Event Coordinator, at 202-637-5377.

Did You Know…

Of the states that are NOT running deficits, all, in various ways, support collective bargaining with state employees: Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota and Wyoming. Further establishing the myth that banning collective bargaining curbs deficits, four of the five states that make collective bargaining explicitly illegal face budget shortfalls: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. The lone exception, Virginia, ended FY 2010 with a surplus of less than $1 billion (Sources: CQ-Roll Call [ http://bit.ly/fc82iO ], Sunshine Review, National Council on Teacher Quality).

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