Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Fastrack Trade Deals

Don't let Congress railroad American's working families with this bad trade deal.Call 1-855-712-8441 and tell them to #StopFastTrack

Posted by AFL-CIO on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Oil Companies Becoming Like Union Carbide?

Remember when, in 1984, Union Carbide killed about 2,500 people in Bhopal, India, when a gas leak exposed over 500,000 people to cyanide gas? Although I do remember the incident, I was only vaguely knowledgeable about it until a few days ago when I watched the movie “Bhopal” on Netflix and got curious.

Union Carbide Corporation is one of the world's largest multi-nationals. Carbide made pesticide with MIC-one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man.

Union Carbide was fined only $470 million. It paid $2,000 per corpse. About 150,000 survivors remain chronically ill. Dow chemical acquired Union Carbide in 2001 and they refuse any liability. Union Carbide has never apologized even though they were found to be criminally negligent.

This episode brings to mind the latest bargaining difficulties the United Steelworkers Union is having in convincing the oil companies to negotiate safer work places and practices. I remember when the Northern Indiana Public Service Company had the same attitude in 1980 which prompted the workers to go on record as being against a nuclear power plant that the company was wanting to build.


I wonder just how much destruction of the earth’s ecosystem through fires and oil spills on land or water, and how many people will have to be maimed or killed before society will finally hold these oil companies liable. The compensation paid for the oil spill of the Exon Valdez was estimated to be about $4 billion, and the compensation for the B.P. oil spill in the gulf is estimated to be about $42 billion. Now, these payments are just a drop in the bucket of these companies. And don’t you know that they never take the blame for these accidents, whether oil spills or fires or explosions, they always blame the workers and many times they never even apologize. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Honeywell Petition

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alliance Endorses Joe Bock for Congress

Alliance for Retired Americans members recently endorsed Joe Bock for election to the U.S. Congress from Indiana's 2nd District at an event in South Bend.

Joe Bock is really a champion for seniors. He can be trusted to lead with our interests. His views on keeping health care affordable and retirement secure are among the reasons that we stand behind Joe Bock and his candidacy for U.S. Congress," said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Joe Bock's strong positions on fighting Social Security and Medicare privatization and strengthening Social Security and Medicare confirm his commitment to improving the quality of life for older Americans. He understands that selling off our Medicare to the big insurance companies or turning our Social Security over to Wall Street would benefit few and harm many, including Indiana seniors.

The Alliance for Retired Americans represents more than 4.3 million retirees and community activists, including more than 131,000 members in Indiana.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Union Vets Say Hands Off Social Security and Medicare



There are 9.4 million military veterans receiving Social Security benefits, which means that almost one out of every four adult Social Security beneficiaries has served in the United States military. It is for that reason Union Veterans Council Director James Gilbert joined elected officials and allies on Capitol Hill yesterday to say #HandsOff Social Security and Medicare. For more information go to http://www.americansunitedforchange.org/

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Myth Spread By The Right

If you listen to the noise out of Washington, the right is once again attacking Social Security! The latest target of the conservatives in Congress are disabled Americans receiving Social Security benefits. I am sure you’ve already heard the messaging: Social Security disability fraud is rampant because it’s so easy to receive benefits and people would rather collect a hefty check from the government than work. It’s the 2014 incarnation of “our nation is full of ‘welfare queens’ and ‘greedy geezers.’” It also suffers from the same basic problem...it’s simply not true. 

The timing of this attack on Social Security’s disability program is not an accident. It’s the cornerstone of Congressional Republicans’ campaign to oppose both President Obama’s nomination of a new Social Security Administration Commissioner and the routine reallocation of the Trust Fund to prevent a 20% disability cut in 2016. Rather than address the disability shortfall head-on, as Congress has done many time before, conservatives hope to hold the disability program hostage in return for cuts throughout the entire Social Security program.

Brothers and Sisters, we are smarter than this. We cannot fall for the old divide and conquer politics that the GOP loves to promote. “Welfare queens and “greedy geezers” are simply villains created by disingenuous politicians to grossly misrepresent the truth. It infuriates the masses and builds support to fix a problem that doesn’t exists. This takes the focus off of the real villains. Those who seek to destroy Social Security. 

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated, “There is a quiet, covert war being waged on Social Security. The tactic? Divide and conquer. Today, detractors try to use Social Security Disability Insurance as a back door to cut the program as a whole. And, we will organize and fight back against today’s attacks aimed at some of the most vulnerable Americans: the disabled.” 


Jim Centner, SOAR Director

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-29-14


Headlines:
This Labor Day, Let's Raise America's Pay – It Will Help with Retirement Savings
No Surprise: Between 2000 and 2011, the Wealth Gap Widened
“Star” Rating System Fails to Protect Many Seniors in Nursing Homes
AP: GOP Sees Health Care Law’s Advantages More and More
Paul Ryan Hears More from Seniors about his Medicare Cuts during Book Tour
Fiesta Addresses Machinist Retirees, Celebrates Social Security in Rhode Island

This Labor Day, Let's Raise America's Pay – It Will Help with Retirement Saving
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) addresses extremely slow wage growth just in time for Labor Day. Available at http://tinyurl.com/l4duxgm, EPI’s paper shows that wages for most Americans were flat or fell in the first half of 2014, compared to this time last year. The study’s author, Elise Gould, says that wages even fell for top wage earners and those with a college degree. The bottom 10 percent’s wages increased by 2 cents an hour, thanks to state-level minimum wage increases. Use EPI’s calculator to see how much people would make if their wages were to continue growing with productivity, as they did in the past: http://tinyurl.com/p4pkktf. To see the video, “The one obvious way to fix inequality that no one is talking about,” go to http://tinyurl.com/opdbk67
“The impact of stagnant wages is more than just an issue for those currently working,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “The problems increase at retirement, when seniors rely on what they’ve been able to save, as well as the Social Security benefits that are determined by wages earned while working. Income security now equals retirement security later.”

No Surprise: Between 2000 and 2011, the Wealth Gap Widened
New statistics from the Census Bureau show that the gap between rich and poor households only continues to rise. Between 2000 and 2011, net worth increased for the top 40% while declining for the bottom 60% of Americans. The gap has also increased according to demographic breakdowns, including race. For instance, African-Americans saw their overall median net worth decrease by $3,746 (or 37.2%) between 2000 and 2011. According to the Census report, “Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011,” (http://tinyurl.com/p78jhs2), median household net worth decreased by $5,124 for households in the first (bottom) net worth quintile and increased by $61,379 (or 10.8%) for those in the highest (top) quintile between 2000 and 2011. Each quintile represents 20%, or one-fifth, of all households.

“Star” Rating System Fails to Protect Many Seniors in Nursing Homes
In order to provide better information regarding the quality of nursing homes, Medicare has embarked on a five year process to rate every facility on a five star system - comparable to a hotel rating system. However, of the data that factor into the rating, only the results of an annual health inspection are done by an independent entity and reviewed by the government. The other two criteria, staff levels and quality, are self-reported and are not usually investigated. This creates an inherent risk of inconsistencies in the system. A report by The New York Times found that “many…top-ranked nursing homes have been given a seal of approval that is based on incomplete information and that can seriously mislead consumers, investors and others about conditions at the homes.”
“We would like to see improvements to the rating system, such as decreased self-reporting and iHi,
ncreased verification of responses,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. The complete article can be found here: http://nyti.ms/1zpP8dw.

AP: GOP Sees Health Care Law’s Advantages More and More
President Obama’s health care law is less of a political target, as vulnerable Democrats increasingly embrace it on the campaign trail and Republicans talk more about fixing it instead of repealing it. Two-term Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D), who is in one of the most competitive races in the country, says in an ad this week that he voted for a law that prevents insurers from canceling policies if someone gets sick, as he was 18 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. According to the Associated Press (http://tinyurl.com/pjhuewy), “House Republicans have voted some 50 times to repeal, change or scrap the law, and the GOP is betting Americans' opposition will be a great motivator in November's midterm elections.” The Obama administration and many health care policy experts maintain that the law is accomplishing its main goal - providing health care coverage to millions of Americans who lack it, with 8 million enrolled. The law also closes the doughnut hole gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors and provides seniors with free preventive care for many conditions, cutting Medicare’s costs.
Robert Blendon, a public opinion analyst at the Harvard School of Public Health, says that the law is incredibly popular with “Democrats or more moderate independents” and that Sen. Pryor’s embracing of the law sends a message to Democrats that a law they like could disappear if he loses his seat. Campaign ads have also reflected less use of health care as an issue. Commercials from candidates and the party organizations themselves have focused on veterans, bipartisanship and attendance at committee hearings, while Republican-leaning outside groups such as Americans for Prosperity still use many of their ads to hit Democrats for backing the health care law. In July, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), described exchanges where individuals could shop for coverage as a step in the right direction and told reporters that "there are some things I feel could be built on.”

Paul Ryan Hears More from Seniors about his Medicare Cuts during Book Tour
Last week, seniors with the Pennsylvania Alliance picketed outside House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s speaking engagement and book tour stop in Philadelphia. This week, seniors and other critics of Rep. Ryan’s budget made their feelings known to him in Florida. For a photo of Florida Alliance Recording Secretary Barbara DeVane telling Rep. Ryan her point of view about Medicare in Tallahassee, go to http://tinyurl.com/knjk5jx. For a video of Rep. Ryan saying falsely that he does not plan to cut Medicare, go to http://tinyurl.com/mvuqxaj.
“The video catches Paul Ryan lying,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Medicare cuts are a cornerstone of the Ryan budget plan. He wants to use vouchers to transfer costs to seniors, and he wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67, for starters.”
Fiesta Addresses Machinist Retirees, Celebrates Social Security in Rhode Island
Mr. Fiesta was in Placid Harbor, Maryland on Monday at the Machinists Union Retirees Assistance Program. On Friday, he is in Providence, Rhode Island for a Social Security birthday celebration with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed; Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline; George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO; and Rhode Island Alliance members.


For a printable version of this document, go to http://tinyurl.com/l8eqg4h.
For the Alliance's Spanish language page, which includes last week's Friday Alert in Spanish, go to www.alianzadejubilados.org

Friday, August 22, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-22-14

Headlines:
Alliance Members Continue Social Security Birthday Celebrations
Alliance Protest Targets Paul Ryan’s Book Tour
Sen. Schumer Introduces Bill to Stop Social Security Office Closures
Stand Up Against Social Security Service Cuts
Sunday Marks 50th Anniversary of Seniors’ Rally for Creation of Medicare Program
Unexpectedly High Medical Bills Often the Result of a Few Common Issues
Fiesta Attends DNC Seniors Council Meeting in Georgia


Alliance Members Continue Social Security Birthday Celebrations
With Social Security celebrating its 79th birthday last week, Alliance members have been holding events across the country honoring the landmark retirement security program. This week’s events included celebrations with cake and balloons in states such as Iowa, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. To view the latest photos from Social Security birthday celebrations, go to http://bit.ly/1tpnf4H.

The North Carolina Alliance hosted a birthday celebration in Charlotte, where members released a report from Alliance partner Social Security Works examining the Social Security system’s importance in the state. The local NBC-TV affiliate, WCNC, covered the event and interviewed North Carolina Alliance President Jim Moore. To view the clip, go to http://bit.ly/1ljAiVf. To see the report for North Carolina and other states, go to http://tinyurl.com/pt4ru5z.

Alliance Protest Targets Paul Ryan’s Book Tour
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Alliance held a protest in Philadelphia, as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) rolled into town on the first stop of a national tour promoting his new book. The protestors assembled outside Ryan’s event, a speaking engagement at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and carried signs drawing attention to the House Budget Committee Chairman’s proposals to fast-track cuts to Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher system.

Alliance member and AFSCME Retiree Dorothea Wilson, who picketed, responded to Ryan’s visit, saying, “For us retirees, he’s done everything he could to mess with our Medicare, our Medicaid, and Social Security. He doesn’t seem to think that older citizens need anything. Everything we have, he wants to take away from us.” To read more on the protests from the Philadelphia Daily News, go to http://bit.ly/1wdAHwX. For photos of the protestors in action, go to http://bit.ly/1mq7aqb.

“The Paul Ryan budget would not only end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, but also raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67. In addition, it would gut Medicaid and provide a windfall for millionaires,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Sen. Schumer Introduces Bill to Stop Social Security Office Closures
Since 2010, more than 80 Social Security field offices and more than 500 temporary mobile offices have been shut down – the largest reduction in Social Security field offices in the program’s history. These closings come as the Baby Boomer generation hits retirement age and demand for services is skyrocketing. In response to the closings, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced a new bill, the Improving Access to Social Security Services Act (S.2742), which would require all future Social Security offices closures to go through a period of public review before any action is taken. Communities would have the opportunity to evaluate the impact of any proposed closures and to stand up for their local field offices before they are shut down.

“Social Security field offices are a critical part of ensuring that retirees and other beneficiaries have access to the full benefits they have earned,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

Stand Up Against Social Security Service Cuts
This week, as a part of the push to cut face-to-face services and move Social Security to an online service model, the Social Security Administration (SSA) kicked off a campaign to encourage beneficiaries to sign up on their mySocialSecurity website. With nearly 17 million seniors without regular internet access and 43 million annual visitors to Social Security field offices, a coalition of groups, including the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the Alliance, is looking to spread the word that high-quality, face to face services simply can’t be replaced with an online alternative. To get involved, connect with the Alliance on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1z87m3e and Twitter at http://bit.ly/1q39O9a, and share posts opposing in-person service cuts with your friends.

Sunday Marks 50th Anniversary of Seniors’ Rally for Creation of Medicare Program
This Sunday, August 24, will mark the 50th anniversary of a historic rally for Medicare held on the boardwalk outside of the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The rally, organized by the National Council of Senior Citizens, took place on August 24, 1964. During the event, 14,000 seniors marched 10 blocks down the Atlantic City boardwalk to the convention hotel, calling on Congress to pass legislation providing universal health coverage for older Americans. Less than a year later, on July 30th, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law.

“The boardwalk rally is a fantastic example of seniors joining together to spur Congress to action. Today, we can use that same spirit to fight to expand Social Security and protect Medicare from threats like Rep. Ryan’s budget plan,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Unexpectedly High Medical Bills Often the Result of a Few Common Issues
Medical billing can be a complicated process, and when insurance companies fail to cover the full cost of services, patients often find themselves on the hook for more money than they expected. According to a recent article in USA Today, there are a number of reasons why an insurance company might not cover the full cost of a bill.

Common reasons include an error on the part of an insurance company; a doctor being considered “out of network”; and an insurance company missing information following a claim filing. Experts recommend asking plenty of questions ahead of time, documenting all contact with an insurance company, and making sure to follow up if a bill seems higher than it should be. For more on what to look out for, and tips on avoiding unexpectedly high medical bills, go to http://usat.ly/VI24OI.

Fiesta Attends DNC Seniors Council Meeting in Georgia
Mr. Fiesta traveled to Atlanta to speak at the Democratic National Committee Seniors Council Meeting on Thursday.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/1mv0Pde.

For the Alliance's Spanish language page, which includes last week's Friday Alert in Spanish, go to www.alianzadejubilados.org