December 21, 2012

Social Security COLA Cut on Table in “Fiscal Cliff” Talks

While negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehnerremain stalled, disturbing media reports indicate an option on the table changing the federal statistical formula used to calculate Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA). “This would lower Social Security benefits for millions of seniors. Social Security did not cause our federal deficit, and retirees should not pay the price for more tax breaks for millionaires,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.

Click here to send a message to your elected Representatives!

Known in policy circles as the “chained CPI,” the policy change would mean that an average earner retiring in 2011 at age 65 would lose over $6,000 over 15 years.  The change assumes that a lower COLA is acceptable because consumers could substitute cheaper products when prices go up.  Health care costs, however, consume a large amount of seniors’ income.  These costs cannot simply be substituted with a cheaper version. For example, a senior cannot save money by opting for a double bypass surgery instead of a triple bypass.  Share an Alliance fact sheet on the “chained  CPI” –

“Congress needs to hear from seniors right away,” Easterling said, urging retirees to both call Congress and e-mail their offices. On Tuesday, retired Machinist Diane Fleming spoke at a rally at the U.S. Capitol, telling a large crowd, “It’s time to stop blaming retirees and workers for problems we did not create.”

Join with the Alliance in Supporting Locked-Out Sugar Workers
Please join with the Alliance in making a financial contribution to help support American Crystal Sugar workers who have been locked out by a management determined to increase their health care costs and outsource their work.  American Crystal’s CEO Dave Berg, who was paid nearly $2.5 million in 2011, has publicly referred to his employees who belong to the Bakery workers union as a “cancerous tumor” on the company.  The AFL-CIO has launched a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar products.

Join with the Alliance in supporting these workers by clicking here!

Pennsylvania Alliance Fighting to Protect Funding for Seniors Programs
The Pennsylvania Alliance has joined AFSCME and other advocates across the state in a coalition to protect key seniors programs.  Governor Tom Corbett plans to turn over the management of the state lottery to a gaming firm based in the United Kingdom. The lottery provides more than $1 billion annually to programs for seniors – from paying for prescription drugs and property tax relief to funding for senior centers and nursing home care.  The Alliance and others believe the governor is hastily advancing a risky change without careful deliberation or public hearings.  “Too many seniors depend on the lottery to afford prescription drugs, stay in their homes and maintain their quality of life to allow such a rash decision to be made,” said Pennsylvania Alliance president Jean Friday. Pennsylvania is the only state to devote 100% of lottery proceeds to seniors.

Join Us on Facebook by Becoming a “Fan” here:
Would you like to receive real-time updates from Alliance activities, campaigns and breaking news? First, become a “fan.” Then, by sharing this link on your Facebook wall with friends and encouraging them to join our quickly-growing network, you can help disseminate the messages about retiree and working family news. You can also spread the messages by clicking the “share” and “like” buttons next to our posts. For example, 148 of our Facebook fans have “shared” the California flash mob video as of this morning. It has enhanced the views and awareness around this wonderful action. Similarly, 435 online activists “shared” the link to contact Congress and send a letter via the Alliance yesterday. This makes our communications even more powerful! Thanks for helping us to grow!

Beware of Holiday Scams
Like the Grinch at Christmas, there are troubling reports of a holiday season spike in consumer scams targeting seniors.  Experts say older Americans should be wary of phone calls, mail, and e-mails saying that you are eligible for prizes or other opportunities to receive money.  “We should remember the old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’” said Alliance Executive Director Edward J. Coyle. Please contact your local or state consumer protection office with questions and concerns.

Something on Your Mind? Write Letter, Win Pen!
Is there something you want retirees in your community to know about?  Take a moment to write a letter to the editor, and when published, the Alliance will send you a union-made “Retirees with the Write Stuff” pen. Letters to the editor are free and are widely read.

Most recently, Louis Albano, Steve Bickham, Nan Brasmer, Jo Etta Brown, Leon Burzynski, Jon “Yogi” Cox, Tim Cunningham, Doug Curler, Bentley Davis, Robert Dougherty, Val Jack, Marlene Koerner, Linda Kovak, Jan Laue, Charlie Lemon, Robert Lindley, Jerry Lotierzo, Dave Meinell, Gary Miszewski, Aubrey Glen Mobley, Valerie Paterson, David Rosenzweig, Tom Sedor, Sr., William Stevens, Thomas Thibeault, Pablo Trujillo, Bill Wallace, Martin Walsh, Rufus Wesley, Floyd Wright, and Jerry Zepplin contributed to their local papers. If you have had a letter published, please e-mail

Happy Holidays from the Alliance
Friday Alert will return on January 4, 2013.  “May everyone find health and happiness during the holiday season. Thank you for all you do to improve the lives of current and future retirees.  Our working days may be over, but our fighting spirit burns as strong as ever,” –.
Barbara J. Easterling

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