Friday, August 15, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-15-14

Headlines:
Alliance Members Honor 79th Birthday of Social Security
Reports Detail Critical Importance of Social Security
Great Recession May Have Forced Americans into Retirement
Medicare Advantage Insurers Systematically Overbilling Government
States Refusing Medicaid Expansion Losing Billions in Funding
President Obama Signs VA Reform Bill into Law


Alliance Members Honor 79th Birthday of Social Security
Our nation’s Social Security system celebrated its 79th anniversary on Thursday, and Alliance members commemorated the important event by throwing more than 30 birthday parties across the country with cake and balloons. Celebrations focused on the long term success of the Social Security system and the need to expand the program in order to meet the needs of current and future retirees. The landmark program was signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 14th, 1935. “Social Security is one of the most successful programs in America’s history,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “With pensions disappearing, it’s harder than ever for workers to save for retirement. We need to strengthen and expand Social Security, not cut it.”

Several celebrations featured members of Congress with track records of working to protect and defend Social Security, including Reps. Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Patrick Murphy (FL), Cheri Bustos (IL), Marc Veasey (TX), Nick Rahall (WV), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH). Mr. Fiesta spoke at the Shaheen event in Manchester, New Hampshire. Both he and Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling spoke at the Rahall event in Beckley, WV. To view a sampling of pictures from the birthday events, go to http://tinyurl.com/pb6n36w. To mark Social Security’s birthday and pledge to redouble efforts to strengthen and expand the program, sign a birthday card to Social Security at http://bit.ly/1lYsDq6.

Reports Detail Critical Importance of Social Security
In honor of Social Security’s anniversary, the Alliance released a series of reports assembled by coalition partner Social Security Works that examine the critical role Social Security plays in states across the country. The reports, available at http://bit.ly/1t3TDJR, provide background information on the Social Security System as well as details about the vital role Social Security serves in the lives of individuals and families in each state. The reports also highlight the economic impact of Social Security benefits, with data carefully broken down by demographic category.

“Our Social Security system is the foundation of retirement security in this country and keeps nearly 22 million Americans out of poverty,” said Ms. Easterling. “Almost 65% of elderly couples and unmarried beneficiaries relied on Social Security for half or more of their income in 2012.”

Great Recession May Have Forced Americans into Retirement
New data from the Federal Reserve suggests that since 2008, a significant number of Americans have been retiring earlier than they expected. This trend comes despite polling suggesting that an increasing number of workers approaching retirement age intend to delay retirement and stay on the job longer in order to make ends meet. The conflicting data suggests that thousands of older workers who lost jobs in the Great Recession may have simply retired instead of continuing to look for work or settle for low paying jobs. Coupled with recent polling in which nearly 1 in 5 workers between the ages of 55 and 64 said they had nothing saved for retirement, the new Fed data points to an increasingly difficult environment for American retirees. Read more on the Great Recession’s impact on retirement at http://ti.me/1sYuYpc.

Medicare Advantage Insurers Systematically Overbilling Government
According to a study from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Medicare Advantage health plans have been overbilling the government by exaggerating how sick patients are and how much these patients cost to treat. Under the program, Medicare pays private insurance (Advantage) plans higher rates for covering sicker patients, with rates tied to “risk scores” based on patient medical histories. According to HHS officials, insurers have been exaggerating the rates of certain medical conditions in order to artificially raise these scores and inflate Medicare payments. The Medicare Advantage program currently insures around 16 million older and disabled Americans.

The HHS study follows a previous report in June that revealed $70 billion in “improper” payments made to Medicare Advantage plans between 2008 and 2013 – primarily a result of overbillings. For more information, read the article from the Center for Public Integrity at http://bit.ly/1paYCI6.

States Refusing Medicaid Expansion Losing Billions in Funding
According to a new report, the 24 states that have refused to expand the Medicaid program under the terms of the Affordable Care Act may be missing out on a staggering amount of federal dollars. A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute suggests that over the next 10 years, these states will lose a total of $423.6 billion in potential federal funding, along with $167.8 billion in increased hospital reimbursement payments. The Medicaid expansion is fully funded by the federal government for the first three years of the program, with states picking up 10% of the tab after that.

Some politicians opposed to the expansion have argued that taking on the task would be a drain on state finances. The study suggests that while it would cost non-expansion states around $31 billion to participate, associated cost savings and enhanced tax revenues resulting from federal financed hospital spending will actually lead to improved finances for state budgets. “Millions of American workers and their families are being denied health coverage under the false claim that these states can’t afford to expand Medicaid. By refusing to expand the program, all these politicians are doing is hurting their constituents and their state economies,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary Treasurer for the Alliance. Read more on the Medicaid studies at http://slate.me/1pur9Zq.

President Obama Signs VA Reform Bill into Law
Late last week, President Obama signed into law a $16.3 billion overhaul of our nation’s Veterans Affairs (VA) health system. Thousands of veterans who have faced extended waits for medical care at VA facilities are now almost immediately eligible to seek government funded treatment from private physicians. Implementing other changes, including the expansion of VA staff through the hiring of thousands of health care providers, and the opening of 27 new VA clinics across the country, is expected to take at least 2 years. The new law also includes new rules making it easier to fire senior VA officials for poor performance. The reforms come in response to revelations of long wait times at VA facilities and attempts by administrators to cover up the problems. To read more on the law from the The Washington Post, go to http://wapo.st/1nTFLg2.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/1uBIBi1.

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

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Interesting Stuff About Social Media

Interesting Fact About Social Media

Whatever you might think of “Social Media”, believe me, it’s here to stay. My Grandma didn’t like to use the telephone. It was like she was afraid of that newest technology and would much rather just yell across the corn field to her neighbors. Please don’t be like Grandma. Don’t be afraid of new technology. Try it, you might like it.

  • Social Media is not about technology. Social Media is about People.
  • Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. To them, Dracula is a cereal character and Vampires live in high schools.
  • In 10 years over 40% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here.
  • Social Media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the Web.
  • Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S. It even impacts our offline behavior.
  • 1 in 5 couples meet online
  • 3 in 5 gay couples meet online.
  • 1 in 5 divorces are blamed on Facebook
  • What happens in Vegas stays on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Flickr
  • An education study revealed that online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction.
  • Kindergartens are learning on iPads, not chalkboards.
  • If Facebook were a country it’d be the world’s 3rd largest, yet Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google are not welcomed in China.
  • 95% of companies using social media for recruitment use LinkedIn.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every second.
  • “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media. The question is how well we DO it.” Erik Qualman
  • Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Sweden, Israel, Greece, Chile, North Korea,  Australia.
  • 50% of the mobile Internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook. Imagine what this means for bad customer experiences.
  • Over 37 million people watched the VW Darth Vadar Super Bowl Ad on YouTube. The child actor had never seen Star Wars.
  • The ford Explorer Launch on Facebook generated more traffic than a Super Bowl Ad.
  • Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé. (Y are those born 1977-1994) (Z are those born 1995-2012)
  • Some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts.
  • John Doe is now friends with John Doe Jr.
  • 69% of parents are “friends” with their children on social media.
  • eReaders have surpassed traditional book sales.
  • GROUPON will reach $1 billion in sales faster than any company in history.
  • 1.5 Million Real Farmers......80 Million Farmville Farmers.
  • social gamers will buy $6 billion in virtual goods by 2013.
  • movie goers buy only $2.5 billion in real goods.
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
  • Every minute 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.
  • If Wikipedia were made into a book, it would be 2.25 MILLION pages long and would take you over 123 years to read.
  • Word of Mouth is on DIGITAL STEROIDS......World of mouth.
  • 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands. Do you like what they are saying about your brand? You better....
  • Socialnomics is here to stay...
  • 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements.
  • 93% of marketers use social media for business.
  • The ROI (return on investment) of Social Media is Your Business Will Still Exist in 5 years.
  • Babies in Egypt have been named Facebook. Now that’s revolutionary.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-1-14

Headlines:
Alliance Kicks Off Medicare Turns 50 Campaign With Events Across the Country
Trustees Report Shows Improved Outlook for Medicare Finances
Social Security Nominee Carolyn Colvin Begins Confirmation Process
Lawmakers Announce VA Deal, Confirm New Secretary
American Companies Dodging Taxes by Moving Addresses Overseas


Alliance Kicks Off Medicare Turns 50 Campaign With Events Across the Country
On Wednesday, Alliance members held more than 50 events in cities across the country in honor of Medicare’s 49th anniversary. The celebrations kicked off the Medicare Turns 50 Campaign leading up to next year’s 50th anniversary. The landmark health care program was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30th, 1965. An Alliance-sponsored event on Capitol Hill saw speeches by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) along with Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Marcy Katpur (D-OH), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), and Mike Michaud (D-ME). Diane Fleming, a member of the Maryland/DC Alliance, also spoke at the event. In her remarks, she described the importance of Medicare and Social Security in her life after United Airlines, which had employed her for nearly four decades, declared bankruptcy and she lost much of her pension. To view photos from the event, go to http://bit.ly/1xFTcWq.

State events included celebrations at Social Security field offices in California and protests in Florida at the offices of representatives, such as Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), who have voted to cut the program. The Medicare celebration in Texas coincided with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s annual meeting in Dallas. ALEC is a corporate funded group that provides state politicians with corporate-authored draft legislation that is then introduced, often verbatim, into state legislatures across the country. As part of an anti-ALEC coalition, the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans staged a protest at the meeting site.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance, traveled to Dallas to meet with the Texas Alliance and took part in the protests. “Corporate front groups like ALEC are working behind the scenes to cut and privatize Medicare,” said Mr. Fiesta. “We are here to preserve and protect it, and make sure proposals such as those contained in the Paul Ryan budget – which would cut Medicare funding by turning it into a voucher program – never become law,” he added. To view photos from the protests, go to http://bit.ly/1u4ixZT.

Trustees Report Shows Improved Outlook for Medicare Finances
Earlier this week, the Social Security and Medicare Trustees issued their annual report on the financial health of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. According to this year’s projections, the Medicare trust fund is fully solvent until 2030, 4 years longer than predicted in last year’s report and 13 years longer than in 2009, the year before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed. Analysts attribute the improvement to efficiency gains resulting from the Affordable Care Act along with slow wage and price growth during the Great Recession. Though average spending per Medicare beneficiary is expected to remain flat for the next few years, it is projected to rise in the coming decade, due in part to rapidly rising prescription drug costs. “The improved financial outlook for the Medicare trust fund is a sign that the Affordable Care Act is doing its job to bring down health costs. Congress can further strengthen Medicare by passing the Medicare Drug Savings Act to stop big drug makers from price gauging and allow Medicare to negotiate the lowest, discounted rate for prescription drugs,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

The Social Security trust fund ran a $32 billion surplus last year and is on track to remain solvent through 2033, the same as expected last year. The trust fund reserves for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are projected to be exhausted in 2016. While Congress has previously reallocated funds a number of times to extend the life of the program, Republicans are expected to use attacks on SSDI as a tool to undermine support for the entire Social Security system. For more on the report, go to http://nyti.ms/1s6JMT0. Read about GOP plans to attack SSDI at http://bit.ly/1oeYFhh.

Social Security Nominee Carolyn Colvin Begins Confirmation Process
On Thursday, Carolyn Colvin, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Social Security Administration (SSA), had her confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance Committee. Colvin has served as Acting Commissioner of the SSA since February 14th, 2014 when the term of her predecessor, Bush appointee Michael J. Astrue, expired. Colvin’s nomination begins her confirmation process at a time in which the SSA has faced questions from members of Congress over Social Security field office closures and service cuts. To read Acting Commissioner Colvin’s remarks before the committee, go to http://1.usa.gov/1pugfSi.

Lawmakers Announce VA Deal, Confirm New Secretary
On Monday, House and Senate negotiators announced they had reached an agreement to overhaul the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. The overhaul comes in response to revelations earlier this year of long wait times at VA facilities and efforts by VA administrators to cover up the problems. The bipartisan agreement was brokered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), head of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The $17 billion agreement scales back separate plans previously passed by the House and the Senate after lawmakers expressed concerns about the $35 billion cost. For more on the overhaul, go to http://on.msnbc.com/1xFLiMw.

The Senate also voted 97-0 this week to confirm Robert McDonald to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. A former US Army Captain, McDonald previously headed the consumer products company Proctor & Gamble. McDonald’s confirmation follows the resignation of former Secretary Eric Shinseki in May. More on the confirmation at http://wapo.st/1pIZ6By.

American Companies Dodging Taxes by Moving Addresses Overseas
In a process known as “inversion”, American corporations are purchasing smaller firms in low tax countries in order to avoid taxes by simply switching to an overseas address. The drug makers Mylan and AbbVie recently began dodging taxes through inversion, and the retailer Walgreens is currently considering following suit. “At a time when families are being hurt by steep budget cuts in Washington, these American corporations are skipping out on their tax responsibilities by simply changing their address. Congress needs to take action to put an end to this practice and make sure American companies pay their fair share,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance. Read more on corporate tax dodging on the AFL-CIO NOW blog at http://bit.ly/1txUHZ1.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/1nSs45w.

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Veterans' Health Care Bill 'Critical First Step'

Veterans' Health Care Bill 'Critical First Step' in Addressing VA Failures

Mike Hall AFL-CIO
Spurred by the recent revelations about long waiting lists, denied critical health care for military veterans, management cover-ups and other serious problems at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and health care facilities, Senate and House leaders have agreed on veterans' health care funding and reform package.

AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. calls the legislation by the leaders of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committees:

"A critical step toward getting the VA back on track so veterans do not have to wait for care….As [Senate Veterans' Affairs] Chairman [Sen.] Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reminded us, this legislation is the beginning, not the end, of a long overdue effort to make the VA strong again and address the true cost of war."

The $17 billion supplemental funding measure must be approved by both houses, which leave for a five-week summer recess at the end of this week.

The bill will begin to address chronic short staffing of doctors, nurses and support personnel. This will assist in getting veterans in the door to receive the top-notch care they have earned, says AFGE, health care that veterans regularly choose over the option of going outside the VA. Inadequate staffing has been widely shown to be the root cause of the unacceptable delays and wait-list manipulation.

It includes $2 billion to lease 27 new medical facilities and $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other staff and funding for treatment of traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma and improved educational benefits.

The bill also the gives the VA secretary new power to fire executives at the agency. Says Cox:

"Although AFGE supports accountability for VA executives responsible for wait-list manipulation, accountability does not require eliminating due process rights; we have all seen in recent months the culture of fear in the VA that intimidates and harms employees trying to speak up for veterans. Due process protects the innocent; we want to make sure we only punish the guilty."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Statement on Social Security

Statement by Retiree Leader Richard Fiesta on the 2014 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to Trustees reports issued today on the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds:

Washington, DC - “The most important lesson from the 2014 Social Security Trustees Report is that Social Security has a large and growing surplus. Today's report projects Social Security’s cumulative surplus to be roughly $2.8 trillion in 2014, growing to about $2.9 trillion around 2020. The report reaffirms that, without any changes, Social Security can pay full benefits until 2033 and three-quarters of benefits after that, unchanged from last year’s report.

“The Medicare Trustees report reminds us once again that the Affordable Care Act is controlling health care costs. It is great news that the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by another four years to 2030. Attempts to repeal health care reform would only undo the progress we have made in controlling health care costs.

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who will use today’s Social Security and Medicare Trustees reports as political cover for radical changes that would put seniors, the disabled, and the families of deceased workers at risk. For instance, we do not need to cut Social Security to address the projected shortfall in the disability trust fund. Rather, we just need a technical adjustment. Congress should, as it has done multiple times before, simply reallocate income across these funds.”

“More and more politicians are actually advancing proposals to expand Social Security. One example, the Strengthen Social Security Act (S.567 and H.R. 3118), introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), would increase annual Social Security benefits by an average of $800. That is an improvement to our retiree system, and we support it.

“The 49th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson signing Medicare into law will be this Wednesday, July 30. That means next year, Medicare turns 50 – and the Alliance for Retired Americans intends to make sure Medicare is still strong then, and for our children, and for our grandchildren.”


Friday, July 18, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 7-18-14

Headlines:
Capitol Hill Event Puts Focus on Older Unemployed Workers
Alliance Joins Boycott of Staples over Efforts to Privatize Postal Operations
Social Security Administration Will Still Issue Verification Letters at Field Offices
Alliance Urges Members to Make Voices Heard on Field Office Closings
Affordable Care Act Success Fails to Bring Political Reward
Fiesta Meets With AFSCME Retiree Council

Capitol Hill Event Puts Focus on Older Unemployed Workers
On Wednesday, Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance, teamed up with several Members of Congress, the Center for Effective Government, and other advocacy organizations to draw attention to older unemployed jobseekers. The Capitol Hill event highlighted the disproportionate impact of long-term unemployment on both near-retirees and younger workers (20’s). In the past month, the coalition has also highlighted the effect of long-term unemployment on children, women, and veterans. The events were inspired by a story bank, which the Center for Effective Government began in order to document the impact of a rough job market on more than 2 million Americans who were cut off from extended unemployment benefits at the end of 2013. Wednesday’s event featured Reps. Daniel Kildee (MI), Dina Titus (NV), Steven Horsford (NV), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Steny Hoyer (MD), Chris Van Hollen (MD), David Cicilline (RI) and others.  The Center for Effective Government has collected over 2400 stories about unemployed retirees who have spent down their savings and need the unemployment benefits for basic needs.

“Older jobseekers often face unemployment discrimination as they look for work, and they also have the longest bouts of unemployment,” said Mr. Fiesta. “The average duration of unemployment for workers ages 55 to 64 is 11 months, according to the Department of Labor. That's three months longer than the average for 25- to 36-year-olds.” You can view the photo archive from the event at http://tinyurl.com/l5ovmy2. To view video footage, go to http://tinyurl.com/n4dv66n.

Alliance Joins Boycott of Staples over Efforts to Privatize Postal Operations
The Alliance is asking its members to support the American Postal Workers Union’s (APWU) efforts to stop the privatization of postal operations by joining APWU members in boycotting stores of the office supply chain Staples. The retailer recently reached a deal with the U.S. Postal Service that threatens to replace full-service U.S. Post Offices with knock-off post offices in Staples stores that are staffed with low-wage non-U.S. Postal Service employees. “We are proud to stand with the workers of the U.S. Postal Service to protect living wage jobs that offer workers the opportunity for a dignified, secure retirement,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Earlier this week, just days after the 1.6 million member American Federation of Teachers joined the Staples boycott, the company appeared to back down by announcing that it would be ending its original pilot program with the U.S. Postal Service. Despite the announcement, however, it appears that the retailer will continue to offer USPS services at its stores. “This attempt at trickery shows that the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement is having an effect,” said Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union. “Staples and the USPS are changing the name of the program, without addressing the fundamental concerns of postal workers and postal customers.” The boycott has already been endorsed by a number of other organizations including the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). For information on the Staples boycott, go to http://www.stopstaples.com/.

Social Security Administration Will Still Issue Verification Letters at Field Offices
Bowing to pressure from Alliance activists, lawmakers, and others, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced on Thursday that it will continue to provide benefit verification letters at Social Security field offices. The announcement reverses a previous plan to stop issuing the documents at field offices and shift to online-only availability. Verification letters are often provided to employers and government agencies in order to verify that beneficiaries are receiving benefits. With rates of internet access significantly lower among seniors and low-income Americans, the previous plan threatened to harm the beneficiaries most likely to request verification letters. “Our activists’ voices were heard. Alliance leaders and members have been saying for months that online benefit verification records by themselves are not enough to satisfy everyone’s needs,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. To read the announcement from SSA, go to http://tinyurl.com/lm34ljg.

Alliance Urges Members to Make Voices Heard on Field Office Closings
Over the last several years, budget cuts at SSA have resulted in 80 field office closings and nearly 11,000 fewer staff providing face-to-face assistance. These cuts come during an unprecedented increase in demand for critical SSA services as Baby Boomers hit retirement age. In response to the wave of SSA staff reductions and field office closings, the Alliance is asking members to call their representatives in Congress and let them know that service cuts at the Social Security Administration have to stop. For information on the service cuts, as well as phone numbers for contacting your representatives, see the flier from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) at http://tinyurl.com/lja4wg4

Affordable Care Act Success Fails to Bring Political Reward
More than 350,000 North Carolina residents have signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but that success has not translated into political support for the law or the leaders who voted for it. In the state, the Democratic Senate incumbent, Kay Hagan, is locked in one of the tightest races in the country and, despite increasing signs of the ACA’s success, is facing sharp criticism over her support of the law. Her opponent, Republican Thom Tillis, has made his opposition to the ACA a focus of the campaign, and Sen. Hagan rarely mentions the law on the campaign trail. The gap between the law’s success and its status as a political liability is a sign of a disconnect that has appeared in states across the country. “The Affordable Care Act is bringing health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans while helping seniors by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and expanding free preventive screenings. It’s important that we spread the word about the benefits we continue to see from the health reform law,” said Ms. Easterling. To read more about the gap between the success of the Affordable Care Act and support for the law, go to http://tinyurl.com/lw3u8wc.

Fiesta Meets With AFSCME Retiree Council
Mr. Fiesta traveled to Chicago to meet with the AFSCME Retiree Council on Saturday and Sunday.

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

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 7-11-14

Headlines:
Social Security Disability Insurance Event Shines a Light on Program’s Importance
Alliance Cosponsors Tele-town Hall on Caregivers’ Credit with Rep. Nita Lowey
Growth in Medicare Spending Slows Dramatically
Hawaii Alliance Holds Annual Legislative Review, Honors Former President Hamai
Graying Prison Population Means New Health Care Costs for States
Fiesta Addresses AFT Retirees

Social Security Disability Insurance Event Shines a Light on Program’s Importance
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) coverage, which workers earn through Social Security payroll tax contributions, provides benefits to 8.9 million disabled American workers and 1.9 million dependent children of disabled workers. On Tuesday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Alliance Legislative Representative Eva Dominguez were featured speakers at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress focusing on the importance of SSDI. Sen. Brown spoke about the need to expand Social Security and the Republican strategy to use SSDI as a way to undermine support for the entire Social Security system. Ms. Dominguez shared stories, sent in by Alliance members, about how SSDI has been a crucial safety net for them.

For 80% of disabled workers, SSDI is the primary or only source of income, and it provides a drastic increase in the quality of life of recipients who might otherwise live in poverty. Only one-third of private-sector workers has employer-provided long-term disability insurance, and most of those plans often provide less than SSDI. Only 7% of workers who make $12 per hour or less have such insurance, since most private long-term disability insurance plans are too costly for most workers. For more on SSDI from the AFL-CIO blog, along with a link to video of the event, go to http://tinyurl.com/k7pqfh4.

Alliance Cosponsors Tele-town Hall on Caregivers’ Credit with Rep. Nita Lowey
Also on Tuesday, the Alliance co-sponsored a teletown hall on Social Security featuring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). The event focused on Lowey’s introduction of H.R.5024, the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act of 2014 - legislation that would allow time workers spend out of the workforce caring for a family member to count towards Social Security work credits. Since Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, current rules mean that taking time out of the workforce to care for a loved one can result in reduced benefits at retirement. The caregiver credit would allow up to five years of time spent out of the workforce providing home care to count towards Social Security work credits.

“Under the existing rules, caregivers are effectively penalized for taking care of a family member. This penalty especially hurts working women who are more likely to take on caregiver responsibilities. It’s long past time for the important work of our nation’s caregivers to be recognized when it comes to Social Security benefits,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.     

Growth in Medicare Spending Slows Dramatically
New estimates suggest that Medicare spending in 2014 is expected to be more than $1,000 lower per beneficiary than was projected when the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. Current estimates, reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation, anticipate that the trend will continue. By 2019, per-beneficiary spending will be nearly $2,400 lower than projected in 2010. While experts are unable to account fully for the decline, much of it appears to be tied to Medicare savings provisions of the Affordable Care Act, along with efficiency gains implemented by providers in response to incentives included in the health care law. Other possible contributors include the use of new data systems to more effectively track health spending and several popular brand name prescription drugs going off patent in recent years.

“These new estimates are more evidence that the Affordable Care Act is working to control costs and make health care more affordable for everyone, including seniors. Curbing the rise in health costs means lower Medicare premiums, an improved budget outlook, and healthier balance sheets for the Medicare trust fund,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance. To read more about the spending slowdown, go to http://tinyurl.com/o3wo3uu.

Hawaii Alliance Holds Annual Legislative Review, Honors Former President Hamai
The Hawaii Alliance recently teamed with fellow advocacy organization Kokua Council to co-host the 8th Annual HARA/Kokua Council Legislative Review at the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu.  Eight state legislators participated in the event, including state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (D) and state House Speaker Joseph Souki (D). With a crowd of retiree activists along with representatives from a number of government and non-profit organizations in attendance, the legislators reported on recent policy developments, provided a number of informational handouts, and took part in a question and answer session. Former HARA President Al Hamai was presented with the Shining Light award in recognition of his many contributions to the Hawaii Alliance and his years of work on retiree issues. The event also saw a presentation by Hawaii Alliance President Justin Wong.   

Graying Prison Population Means New Health Care Costs for States
A new survey suggests that a rapidly aging inmate population could lead to budget problems for the nation’s prison system. According to the report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of prison inmates 55 and older jumped 204% between 1999 and 2012, a period in which the under-55 inmate population increased by only 9%. The staggering uptick is the result of stiffer sentencing laws and an increase in the number of older felons. As a result of the nation’s aging inmate population, prisons are being forced to shoulder higher health care costs and spend money to retrofit existing structures to accommodate the physical needs of older adults. More from American Public Media’s Marketplace is at http://tinyurl.com/nx8q5qq.

“There is a high cost to denying parole to our oldest felons,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “In cases where the threat to public safety remains high, and the prisoner is not rehabilitated, parole is not the answer. However, that is not always the case. That is why officials in many states are now reconsidering and trying to make it easier for these inmates to be released.”

Fiesta Addresses AFT Retirees
Mr. Fiesta traveled to Los Angeles to speak at the American Federation of Teachers Retiree Conference on Thursday and Friday.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://tinyurl.com/mzvpcu8

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

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 7-4-14




Headlines:
Supreme Court Sides with One Percent in Home Health Care Case
Americans are United on Support for Social Security
New Census Report Gives Detailed Look at the 65-and-Over Crowd
Companies that Pay Above Minimum Wage Come Out Ahead
Centenarians Less Likely to Succumb to Chronic Illness

Supreme Court Sides with One Percent in Home Health Care Case
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision that makes it harder for home care workers to deliver quality care for their clients. The case, Harris v. Quinn, involves home health care workers in Illinois who are paid through Medicaid but primarily supervised by home care recipients. In a majority ruling authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court held that although these workers are paid by the state, they fall into a category of workers termed “partial government employees” and are not subject to the same labor rules as other public workers including firefighters, school teachers, and police officers. The court ruled that these home health care workers cannot be required pay fair share fees to unions bargaining on their behalf. The Court did uphold the right of other public employees to have a voice at work by declining to overturn a 37-year old precedent that permits fair-share agreements for public employees. Under such agreements, workers may opt out of union fees designated for political ends but are required to cover a share of costs associated with other union activities such as collective bargaining.

The anti-union organization, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation – funded by the Koch and Walton families and others – brought the Harris v. Quinn suit.  Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “Corporations, the Koch brothers and their extremist allies continue to pursue anti-retiree, anti-worker legislation in the states and in the courts. Instead of using the courts to take away the rights of working Americans like caregivers, we must reduce income and wealth inequality and enhance Americans’ economic security in both working years and in retirement.” The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Lee Saunders said that the Supreme Court decision "does not dampen the resolve of home care workers and child care providers to come together to have a strong voice for good jobs and to give care to millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children." Read more here http://bit.ly/1m5LK4k.

Americans are United on Support for Social Security
The American public may be divided on a host of issues, but a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press points to overwhelming support for our Social Security system. Although Americans express concern about the long-term solvency of the program, just one-third of Americans believe benefit cuts should be considered.

There is little variation between ideological camps. Fifty-nine percent of conservatives and two-thirds of liberals agree that benefits should be maintained at current levels. The proposal with the most support across the political spectrum regarding maintaining long-term viability involves gradually lifting the earnings cap on Social Security contributions, increasing Social Security payroll taxes from 6.2% to 7.2%, and modestly expanding benefits. “The American public stands firmly behind strengthening and expanding Social Security. With multiple Social Security expansion bills including the Raise Act and the Strengthening Social Security Act already circulating in the Senate, it looks like our leaders in Washington are starting to get the message,” said Barbara Easterling, President of the Alliance. For more details on public support for Social Security, go to http://on-msn.com/1vsGSaI.

New Census Report Gives Detailed Look at the 65-and-Over Crowd
A new report released by the US Census Bureau paints a picture of a shifting demographic landscape for people over age 65 in the United States. Among the findings are an increasing number of working seniors, a more racially diverse over-65 population, and fewer seniors living in traditional nursing homes. With 40.3 million adults over age 65 in 2010, seniors made up 13.0% of the nation’s population. That figure is expected to rise to 20.9% by 2050. The study notes that Social Security is the largest single income source for Americans over age 65, making up 36.7% of aggregate income in 2010. For the lowest earning fifth of seniors, Social Security makes up more than 84% of income. “With so many Americans approaching retirement age, it’s becoming all the more important that we fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, cornerstones of retirement security,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. For more on the study, go to http://1.usa.gov/1nZ78Wb.

Companies that Pay Above Minimum Wage Come Out Ahead
Zeynep Ton, with the MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote in a Forbes article this week (http://onforb.es/1mhWZbA), “Retail and fast-food jobs are here to stay. Unless these jobs become better jobs, millions of people who work will continue to live in poverty and rely on public assistance.” She points out that nearly one fifth of American workers work in retail and fast food, earning poverty-level wages, have unpredictable schedules and few opportunities for success and growth. When Ton examined large companies that voluntarily pay their employees well above the minimum wage including Costco, Trader Joe’s, QuikTrip (a U.S. chain of convenience stores), and Mercadona (Spain’s largest supermarket chain), she found commonalities. They consider their workforce a strategic asset, not a cost to minimize; and the companies make smart operational choices that increase employee productivity and “motivate [employees] to play a much bigger role in driving sales and reducing costs.”

Gene Lantz, President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans said, “The better we work, the better we retire. We’ve been in this race-to-the bottom for too long. Companies that pay their workers a living wage and provide healthcare and other benefits are in-the-right and their businesses are setting a successful example.” He continued, “It’s time other corporations wise up and get behind efforts to raise the minimum wage, support the Walmart organizing drive, and push for $15 per hour for food service workers.”

Centenarians Less Likely to Succumb to Chronic Illness
A recently released study from the U.K. suggests that older adults reaching age 100 are less likely to die from illnesses that are among the most common causes of death for younger seniors. According to LiveScience, only 8.6% of centenarians passed away from heart disease and only 4.4% from cancer. For the 80 to 85 crowd, heart disease accounted for 19% of deaths with cancer accounting for 24%. Although less likely to succumb to chronic illnesses, centenarians are more prone to sudden infections that can lead to rapid health decline. The leading causes of death for seniors over 100 were found to be old age and pneumonia. For more, go to http://bit.ly/1qy5HUV.

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

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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 6-27-14

Headlines:
Obama Picks Carolyn W. Colvin to Lead Social Security Administration
SAME Act Would Bring Equal Social Security Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses
Sign the Petition Calling for an End to the Abuse of “Observation Status”
Virginia Gov. McAuliffe Vetoes Parts of State Budget in Medicaid Expansion Fight
Maryland/DC Alliance Holds First Annual Awards Luncheon
If Social Security Disability Insurance Made a Difference in Your Life, Tell us how!
Retiree Activists Gather at Indiana Alliance Convention
Maryland/DC Alliance Member James (“Jimmy”) Allen Passes Away


Obama Picks Carolyn W. Colvin to Lead Social Security Administration
Late last week, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Carolyn W. Colvin to lead the Social Security Administration (SSA). A longtime government administrator, Ms. Colvin has been the agency’s acting commissioner since February 2013. There will be a confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee and, if confirmed, she would serve a six-year term. The appointment comes at a time when the SSA faces a number of ongoing challenges. Budget cuts at the agency have recently led to field office closures, staff reductions, and service cuts. The budget stress at the agency has been coupled with increased demand for support services as more and more baby boomers hit retirement age.

This spring, Colvin was a featured speaker at the Alliance National Membership Convention in Las Vegas. “We are pleased that a permanent Social Security Commissioner has been nominated. Congress should make Acting Commissioner Colvin’s job easier by fully funding the SSA, so that field offices can remain open, and the people who have earned Social Security benefits are able to access the services they need,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

SAME Act Would Bring Equal Social Security Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses
On Wednesday, the Alliance called on Congress to pass the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI). The SAME act would close a current gap that denies legally married same-sex spouses access to full Social Security benefits when they reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. “After the death of a loved one, some families are currently going without survivor benefits they have earned,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We are saying that discrimination is never right, and we want to be on the right side of history. Same-sex older couples deserve the same rights as other older couples.” Read the press release at http://tinyurl.com/qcdqjzx.

Sign the Petition Calling for an End to the Abuse of “Observation Status”
The Alliance has released a new online petition calling on Congress to take action to prevent seniors from being forced to bear high out of pocket health costs due to the misuse of an “observation status” designation during hospital stays. Increasingly, seniors on Medicare are spending multiple days in the hospital only to discover later on that they were never admitted as in-patients and were instead held under “observation status.” As a result, seniors are facing unexpected bills for medications and skilled nursing facility care that Medicare would typically cover for in-patients.
The petition calls on Congress to pass the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act (S.569, H.R. 1179), co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate and by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Tom Latham (R-IA) in the House. To sign the petition, go to http://tinyurl.com/lzx3tnk.

Virginia Gov. McAuliffe Vetoes Parts of State Budget in Medicaid Expansion Fight
The budget battle between Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Republicans in the state legislature over McAuliffe’s push to extend health coverage to 400,000 low income Virginians has taken another dramatic turn. After the surprise resignation of Democratic state senator Phillip Puckett threw control of the state Senate to the GOP, Republicans took advantage of their new majority by passing a two-year budget plan that excludes the state Medicaid expansion supported by McAuliffe. In response, McAuliffe has made use of the line-item veto to strike down several portions of the budget and pledged to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. The GOP then used a procedural move on Monday to kill a critical veto that McAuliffe hoped would make it easier to expand Medicaid without going through the state legislature. McAuliffe has pledged to continue his push to expand Medicaid. “We are pleased that we have a governor who has stood his ground and kept the promise he campaigned on,” said Ron Thompson, President of the Virginia Alliance.

Maryland/DC Alliance Holds First Annual Awards Luncheon
On Saturday, Ms. Easterling attended the MD/DC Alliance’s first annual awards luncheon in Lanham, Maryland. The luncheon honored former MD/DC Alliance President Frank Stella with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of work on issues important to current and future retirees. Two other Alliance leaders were also recognized, with former MD/DC Vice President Maria Cordone receiving the Founders Award and Ida Williams-Ward, President of AFSCME Retirees Chapter 1, receiving the Trustees Award.

If Social Security Disability Insurance Made a Difference in Your Life, Tell us how!
The Alliance is collecting stories to share with Congress on the important role Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) plays in the lives of Americans. SSDI provides a lifeline that nearly 9 million disabled workers rely upon to feed, clothe, and shelter their families. “If you or a family member has seen first-hand the value of SSDI benefits, the Alliance wants to hear from you,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. How has SSDI made a difference in your life and your family’s?  Please send your story to aracommunications@retiredamericans.org

Retiree Activists Gather at Indiana Alliance Convention
On Monday, an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 attendees turned out for the Indiana Alliance Convention in Indianapolis. Coordinated by Indiana Alliance President Elmer Blankenship, convention delegates passed a number of resolutions including a measure addressing climate change. “We must remain vigilant against the Paul Ryan budget in order to keep the promise of Medicare alive,” said Ms. Easterling at the convention.

Maryland/DC Alliance Member James (“Jimmy”) Allen Passes Away
Jimmy Allen, a beloved member of the Maryland/DC Alliance and former President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, has passed away at the age of 71. A committed labor activist, Mr. Allen also served many years as Vice President of the Maryland State/DC AFL-CIO and on the Executive Board of the AFL-CIO Metro Washington Council. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and his daughter, Kimberly. “We will miss Jimmy’s sense of humor and kind nature,” said Mr. Fiesta. “He had many friends at the Alliance, and we will always remember him fondly.” For a photo from the funeral service honoring Jimmy, go to http://tinyurl.com/k8xf9ka.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/UQL2hy.

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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Congressperson, Jackie Walorski Votes Against Retirees.....Again.

Health Care Repeal II

The House passed a bill, introduced by Rep. Price, R-GA, that would prohibit the Treasury Department from implementing the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 law included several pro-retiree provisions including the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for preventive care screenings and an annual wellness checkup beginning in 2011. The law also included the closing of the Part D doughnut hole coverage gap and the phasing out of overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurance companies. The bill passed 232-185. A NO vote is a pro-retiree vote but Indiana Representative,  Jackie Walorski once again voted against retirees. H.R. 2009, Roll Call No. 447, August 2, 2013.

Friday, June 20, 2014

UNION VETERANS - The U.S. Mail is Not for Sale to Staples

For more than 235 years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been one of the nation’s largest employers of Veterans, second only to the Department of Defense.

Currently the USPS has nearly 120-thousand employees — 21 percent of the workforce — who have worn their military and postal uniforms with pride.

Staples attacks good jobs and public post offices.

Staples and the U.S. Postal Service have cut a deal that jeopardizes your mail service and your local post office. In fact, post offices across the country are at risk – along with thousands of good jobs.
The Staples deal will replace full-service U.S. Post Offices with knock-off post offices in Staples stores that are not staffed with U.S. Postal Service employees.

A bad deal for workers and consumers.

You have a right to post offices staffed by workers who are accountable to you and the American people. You have a right to postal services provided by highly trained, uniformed Postal Service employees, who are sworn to safeguard your mail – whether it’s at the Post Office or Staples.

The Staples deal is bad for consumers like you who will pay the same for less service. And if Staples and the USPS move forward with this deal, it could lead to the end of the Postal Service as we know it.

Undermining good jobs.

In the meantime, the Staples deal is replacing good-paying jobs that our community depends on with low-wage jobs that hurt our economy.

Tell Staples: The U.S. Mail is Not for Sale!

Text POSTAL to 91990 or visit StopStaples.com.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Union Veterans

IAM Retiree and activist Joe Reilly, a 101st Airborne paratrooper on D-Day, will be featured on NBC Nightly News’ D-Day 70th Anniversary coverage on Friday, June 6 at 8 p.m. EDT. Reilly, 94, is a 58-year IAM member in his 28th year of retirement. He remains active in the IAM and in politics in his home state of California. Click here to read more about Reilly. http://www.goiam.org/index.php/imail/latest/12842-iam-retiree-d-day-vet-joe-reilly-to-appear-friday-on-nbc-news

The IAM scored a second important organizing victory, this time for 475 office and clerical personnel employed by L3 at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) in Corpus Christi, TX. This follows an April organizing win for 450 helicopter mechanics and technicians at the same facility. http://www.goiam.org/index.php/imail/latest/12917-machinists-win-back-to-back-organizing-drives-in-texas-

It’s Time to Staff the VA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-Wgh12yRMs

 LIUNA: Fix Our Bridges, Roads; Fund the Highway Bill

With the Highway Trust Fund running out of money, thanks to congressional inaction, crucial highway and bridge repair projects could be shut down starting this summer. On Monday, the Laborers (LIUNA) launched a 22-city “Getting Schooled in Infrastructure” tour to spotlight the need to pass a long-term, full-investment highway bill this year in order to keep the nation’s roads and bridges from falling into even more dangerous disrepair.

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/LIUNA-Fix-Our-Bridges-Roads-Fund-the-Highway-Bill


Monday, June 16, 2014

Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski Votes Against Retirees

Health Care Repeal 1

The House passed health care reform repeal legislation, introduced by Rep. Bachmann, R-MN. The 2010 Affordable Care Act included several pro-retiree provisions including the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for preventive care screenings and an annual wellness checkup beginning in 2011. The law also included the closing for the Part D doughnut hole coverage gap and the phasing out of overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurance companies. The bill passed 229-195. A NO vote is the pro-retiree vote. Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski voted against retirees. H.R. 45, Roll Call No. 154, May 16, 2013.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 6-13-14

Headlines:
Leaders in Washington Pushing to Strengthen and Expand Social Security;
Wild Week in Virginia Shifts Political Landscape;
Activists Plan Events in Response to ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Dallas;
Millennials May Be Headed For Retirement Hardship;
North Carolina Alliance Holds Golf Tournament, Sees Great Results

Leaders in Washington Pushing to Strengthen and Expand Social Security
In a sign that the push to expand Social Security is continuing to build support, on Wednesday Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Retirement and Income Security Enhancements (RAISE) Act. The RAISE Act would enhance Social Security benefits for widows, widowers, and divorced spouses while extending benefit eligibility for children of retired, disabled, and deceased workers.
The RAISE Act is not the only proposal to expand Social Security. Last year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act (S. 567) in the Senate, with Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) introducing a companion bill in the House (H.R. 3118). The Strengthening Social Security Act proposes adjusting the benefits formula to provide an increase in benefits for most beneficiaries and improving the program’s finances by lifting the earnings cap on Social Security contributions.

“With multiple expansion bills under consideration, it’s clear that an increasing number of leaders in Washington realize the importance of strengthening and expanding our Social Security system,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President for the Alliance. If you have not already signed the petition calling on senators to stand up in support of the RAISE Act, go to http://bit.ly/1jmKXYq.

Wild Week in Virginia Shifts Political Landscape
During a tumultuous week in Virginia politics, two politicians are now out of their posts in moves with major implications at both the state and national levels. At the national level, a shocking result in the Virginia GOP primary saw U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) lose to Tea Party candidate David Brat. Following the loss, Rep. Cantor announced his resignation from the Majority Leader position, effective July 31st. Cantor’s loss will have ripple effects throughout the House Republican leadership. The result is also expected to revitalize the Tea Party after a primary season in which Tea Party candidates nationwide have otherwise had little success challenging establishment Republicans. Cantor has a 2% lifetime voting record with the Alliance (http://tinyurl.com/kxfrped). Read more on Cantor’s defeat at http://cnn.it/TNTCNE.

Earlier in the week, on Monday, Virginia Republicans had taken control of the state Senate after the unexpected resignation of Democratic state senator Phillip P. Puckett. Republicans now control the Virginia Senate by a 20-to-19 margin. Following the resignation, Republicans immediately ended a budget standoff that had threatened to shut down the state’s government in the coming weeks. The impasse was brought on by a proposed Medicaid expansion under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. Expanding health coverage to 400,000 low income Virginians has been a top priority for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Mr. McAuliffe had traveled to hospitals that serve the poor in rural districts of conservative lawmakers, seeking to pressure them to endorse his plan to join the 26 states that embraced Medicaid expansion under the president’s health care law. He is now widely believed to be studying how to enact a Medicaid expansion without the legislature.

“Any time the health care of 400,000 people is put at risk, it is extremely unfortunate,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Puckett’s resignation was clouded in controversy as news quickly leaked that he was set to receive a job as deputy director of the state’s Tobacco Commission and that his daughter was in line for a judicial appointment. Puckett subsequently removed himself from consideration for the Commission post. For more on the resignation, go to http://wapo.st/Uwdbus.

Activists Plan Events in Response to ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Dallas
The shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will be heading to Dallas from July 30th to August 1st for its annual meeting. The Dallas-Fort Worth area chapters of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans are working with North Texas Jobs with Justice and an anti-ALEC coalition to organize a number of upcoming events in order to draw attention to ALEC’s anti-retiree and anti-worker agenda, putting pressure on ALEC-linked politicians to cut ties with the corporate-backed organization. The events kicked off this Thursday with a teach-in and concert featuring folk musician and political activist Anne Feeney. Numerous grassroots actions, including workshops and protests, will be held in the Dallas area through late July. The main protest and rally will take place on July 30th. For more on the upcoming events, see the flyer at http://bit.ly/1jmENHD.

Millennials May Be Headed For Retirement Hardship
A recent Merrill Lynch survey looking at generational attitudes towards retirement security suggests that millennials expect Social Security and employer-provided pensions to make up less of their retirement income than previous generations. Millennials, a term researchers and commentators often use to refer to those with birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, expect to rely more heavily on employment income and personal savings. With record levels of student debt, high unemployment rates curbing future earnings, and low rates of retirement savings, millennials may be counting on savings that don’t ever materialize. According to New Republic, if millennials’ expectations about relying on personal savings prove accurate, these younger workers may face economic hardship in retirement or be left working for years longer than previous generations.

“This survey underscores the importance of strengthening Social Security and protecting pension programs so that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a dignified, secure retirement,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance. More at  http://bit.ly/1hN3wK5.

North Carolina Alliance Holds Golf Tournament, Sees Great Results
On Monday, the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans held their 3rd Annual Golf Tournament at Holly Ridge Golf Links in Archdale, NC. Twenty-one golfers, 10 sponsors and 30 donors took part! Congratulations go out to SEIU member Lewis Sasse, who won the affiliate's first ever raffle. The prize was a 42-inch flat screen HDTV. “This year’s golf tournament was our most successful to date,” said North Carolina Alliance President Jim Moore. “Thank you to all of our volunteers & sponsors.” To view a photo from the event, go to http://tinyurl.com/q2zafpz.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://tinyurl.com/mxllppw.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Indiana AFL-CIO Endorsements

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 9, 2014
Media Contact: Jeff Harris, Indiana State AFL-CIO, 317.632.9147

INDIANA STATE AFL-CIO ENDORSES CANDIDATES FOR 2014 GENERAL ELECTION
Federation of labor unions endorses candidates that support working families

INDIANAPOLIS — Today the Indiana State AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of labor unions representing more than 300,000 active workers, announced endorsements of candidates for the 2014 General Election.

The endorsements are based on voting records, in-person interviews and responses to a questionnaire issued to all candidates. Affiliates of the Indiana State AFL-CIO met on Friday in Indianapolis to review the information and vote on endorsements.

The following candidates were endorsed for the 2014 General Election:

Statewide Offices:
Secretary of State: Beth White (D)
State Auditor: Mike Claytor (D)
State Treasurer: Mike Boland (D)

U.S. House of Representatives:
District 1: Pete Visclosky (D) (I)
District 2: Joe Bock (D)
District 3: Justin Kuhnle (D)
District 4: John Dale (D)
District 5: Shawn Denney (D)
District 7: Andre Carson (D) (I)
District 8: Tom Spangler (D)
District 9: Bill Bailey (D)

Indiana State Senate:
District 1: Frank Mrvan (D) (I)
District 4: Karen Tallian (D) (I)
District 6: Roxanna Hanford (D)
District 15: Jack Morris (D)
District 25: Tim Lanane (D) (I)
District 27: Jake Hoog (D)
District 29: J.D. Ford (D)
District 38: Tim Skinner (D) (I)
District 41: Andy Talarzyk (D)
District 43: Rudy Howard (D)
District 45: Julie Berry (D)
District 46: Chuck Freiberger (D)
District 47: Richard Young (D) (I)
District 48: Larry Vollmer (D)
District 49: Jim Tomes (R) (I)

Indiana House of Representatives:
District 1: Linda Lawson (D) (I)
District 2: Earl Harris (D) (I)
District 3: Charlie Brown (D) (I)
District 4: Deb Porter (D)
District 6: B. Patrick Bauer (D) (I)
District 7: David Niezgodski (D) (I)
District 8: Ryan Dvorak (D) (I)
District 9: Scott Pelath (D) (I)
District 10: Chuck Moseley (D) (I)
District 11: Jim Metro (D)
District 12: Mara Candelaria Reardon (D) (I)
District 14: Vernon Smith (D) (I)
District 15: Jim Wieser (D)
District 16: Rich Ludington (D)
District 19: Shelli VanDenburgh (D) (I)
District 21: Jodi Buoscio (D)
District 27: Sheila Klinker (D) (I)
District 29: Joseph Marcum (D)
District 30: Chuck Sosbe (D)
District 32: Bob Ashley (D)
District 33: Shon Byrum (D)
District 34: Sue Errington (D) (I)
District 35: Melanie Wright (D)
District 36: Terri Austin (D) (I)
District 39: David Russ (D)
District 42: Mark Spelbring (D)
District 43: Clyde Kersey (D) (I)
District 46: Jim Mann (D)
District 52: Charlie Odier (D)
District 55: Glenn Bailey (D)
District 56: Phillip Pflum (D)
District 60: Damon Brodhacker (D)
District 61: Matt Pierce (D) (I)
District 66: Terry Goodin (D) (I)
District 68: Rick Gill (D)
District 70: Heidi Sellers (D)
District 71: Steven Stemler (D) (I)
District 72: Kevin Sue Bailey (D)
District 74: Chris Coyle (D)
District 76: Tony Goben (D)
District 77: Gail Riecken (D) (I)
District 78: Stephen Melcher (D)
District 80: Phil GiaQuinta (D) (I)
District 82: Mike Wilber (D)
District 84: Fred Haigh (D)
District 86: Ed DeLaney (D) (I)
District 87: Christina Hale (D) (I)
District 89: Debra Jenkins (D)
District 91: Patrick Lockhart (D)
District 92: Karlee Macer (D) (I)
District 93: Ryan Guillory (D)
District 94: Cherrish Pryor (D) (I)
District 95: John Bartlett (D) (I)
District 96: Gregory Porter (D) (I)
District 97: Justin Moed (D) (I)
District 98: Robin Shackleford (D) (I)
District 99: Vanessa Summers (D) (I)
District 100: Dan Forestal (D) (I)

(D = Democrat/ R = Republican/ I = Incumbent)

“We are proud to offer these endorsements and will do everything we can to help get these worker-friendly candidates elected to office,” said Brett Voorhies, Indiana State AFL-CIO president.

Additional endorsements of candidates slated in caucuses before June 30, 2014 may be made at a later date.

The Indiana State AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) is a federation of 800 local unions across the state belonging to 50 International Unions. In total, the Indiana State AFL-CIO represents more than 300,000 working Hoosiers.

For more information on please visit www.inaflcio.org or call 1-800-433-8423.

###


Friday, June 06, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 6-6-14

Headlines:
GOP Calls for Repeal of Affordable Care Act are Fading Fast
The Alliance Submits Statement on “Observation Status” to Congress
Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Proposal to Overhaul VA
2,000 Detroit Pensioners Will Revote After Receiving Inaccurate Bankruptcy Ballots
Reps. Cole, Delaney Propose Bipartisan Commission to Improve Social Security
Report Ranks Minnesota Healthiest State for Retirees


GOP Calls for Repeal of Affordable Care Act are Fading Fast
In a sign that the harshest opposition to the Affordable Care Act may be softening, GOP candidates across the country are dropping calls to repeal the health care reform law and are instead spending this year’s election season talking about trying to “fix” it. Republican leaders in Washington who are still calling for repeal have yet to release their own comprehensive health reform proposal, and several Republican candidates have drawn criticism for failing to specify which portions of the Affordable Care Act they would seek to modify.

“With the Affordable Care Act, seniors are seeing expanded access to free preventive screenings, an end to insurance companies denying care due to pre-existing conditions, and the closing of the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole. The fact that voters won’t accept critics of the law continuing to call for its repeal is an indication that the Affordable Care Act is working,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary Treasurer for the Alliance. For more, go to http://wapo.st/1kuIHSI.

The Alliance Submits Statement on “Observation Status” to Congress
On Tuesday, the Alliance submitted a statement for the record of a House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health hearing entitled “Current Hospital Issues in the Medicare Program.” The statement focuses on the widespread placement of seniors under an observation status designation during multi-day hospital stays. Increasingly, hospitals have been placing patients under observation status rather than admitting them as inpatients. This distinction is important, because an observation status label means seniors are considered outpatients during stays in the hospital. As a result, many seniors are spending multiple days in the hospital only to discover they are responsible for both higher copays and bills for routine medications unrelated to their stay.

The most dramatic consequences are often for seniors moving from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities. Since admission to these facilities requires a three day inpatient stay to be covered under Medicare, many seniors under observation status are released from the hospital only to discover that they have no coverage for post-acute care. These seniors often find themselves taking on thousands of dollars in unexpected bills or going without necessary skilled nursing facility care altogether.

One solution is for Congress to pass the bipartisan bill “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013,” S.569 and H.R. 1179, introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Tom Latham (R-IA).

“Passage of the bipartisan Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act would count the time patients spend in the hospital under observation status towards the three-day stay requirement and provide seniors with the full Medicare benefits they have earned,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance. Read the full Alliance statement at http://bit.ly/1kLEZjd

Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Proposal to Overhaul VA
In the wake of the recent scandal involving mismanaged care in VA hospitals, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and John McCain (R-AZ) have struck a deal on bipartisan legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sanders has introduced a bill, the Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act, that would make a number of sweeping changes to the VA health program, such as implementing expedited hiring and firing authority for employees, opening 26 new facilities throughout the country, and making it easier for veterans to seek care outside the system when VA facilities unavailable. More at http://tinyurl.com/lfnsj9v.

2,000 Detroit Pensioners Will Revote After Receiving Inaccurate Bankruptcy Ballots
When ballots detailing Detroit’s proposal to restructure $18 billion in debt were sent out to 67,000 retirees, beneficiaries, and creditors last month, an estimated 2,000 Detroit retirees and workers received ballots with inaccurate information. As a result, these current and former workers will now have to revote on the proposal. The error involved data about Detroit’s plan to collect $239 million that the General Retirement System paid into worker annuity accounts over a 10-year period. While most of the ballots were unaffected, it is expected that the error could further complicate what is already widely viewed as a confusing process for the workers and retirees covered by the city’s general pension fund. Members of the bankrupt city’s General Retirement System have to approve the debt reduction plan for the proposal to move forward. New ballots will be sent out to the 2000 affected current and former workers. For more details on the revote, go to http://bit.ly/1x8Aaug.

Reps. Cole, Delaney Propose Bipartisan Commission to Improve Social Security
Last week, Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK) and John Delaney (D-MD) introduced a bill that would create a new bipartisan commission to examine ways to improve Social Security. The bill calls for a 13-member commission that would be given one year to propose a list of recommendations for improving the program and increasing the solvency of the Social Security system. Currently, Social Security has sufficient funds to pay full benefits through 2033 and funds to pay about 75% of scheduled benefits through 2087.

“We must be vigilant whenever anyone talks about ‘fixing’ Social Security – and that is how The Washington Post refers to the goals of this commission,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “At a time when more and more Americans are struggling to save for retirement, any proposal to improve Social Security should focus on expanding the program to better meet the needs of current and future retirees.” More at http://wapo.st/1hyOYOx.

Report Ranks Minnesota Healthiest State for Retirees
A United Health Foundation report looking at 34 different statistical measures ranked all 50 states based on the overall health and well-being of older Americans. The survey looked at various factors including obesity rates, access to care, and availability of quality nursing home beds.  In the final tally, Minnesota topped the list while Mississippi came in last. Though Minnesota had average rates of obesity among older adults, it benefitted from high proportions of able-bodied seniors, high rates of routine dental care, and high rates of activity during the brief Minnesota summers. For more on the study, go to http://on.mktw.net/1mP3QWk.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/1nnNoy0.

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



CEO Pay

Friday, May 30, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-30-14

Headlines:
The Alliance Releases Annual Voting Record Rating Congress
Early Social Security Claims Linked to Job Demands and Life Expectancy
Skyrocketing Median CEO Pay Tops $10 Million
Social Security Administration Considering Closing Most Field Offices
Fiesta Joins Sinema at Tele-Town Hall Call Regarding Seniors and Veterans
Voting Restrictions Threaten to Disenfranchise Voters Across South





The Alliance Releases Annual Voting Record Rating Congress
On Thursday, the Alliance released its annual report detailing the voting record of every U.S. Representative and Senator on issues important to current and future retirees. The voting record looks at 10 key votes in both the Senate and the House and assigns a “Pro-Retiree” score for each member of Congress. Scores reflect a member’s level of support for retirees and older Americans.
This year, votes examined include whether to:
•    raise the retirement age and fast-track cuts to Social Security;
•    privatize Medicare;
•    turn Medicaid into a block grant system;
•    limit voters’ rights by implementing photo identification requirements; and
•    repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take away some gains for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries in terms of coverage and benefits.

“The first session of the 113th Congress was one of the least productive in modern American history. It enacted just 55 substantive pieces of legislation, the fewest in decades,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “The House Speaker said that Congress should be judged on how many laws it repeals. We looked, and it repealed none. It was a year of endless attempts to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and repeal health care reform.”

In total, 47 members of the Senate and 154 members of the House received perfect scores of 100 percent. Sixteen Senate members and 132 House members, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), received scores of zero. To view the voting record, go to http://tinyurl.com/kxfrped. For the press release, go to http://bit.ly/1oNFvm2.

Early Social Security Claims Linked to Job Demands and Life Expectancy 
A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests that work-related factors and expectations about living past 75 have a powerful impact when it comes to workers claiming Social Security benefits early. The study focuses on those who claim Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, the earliest age of eligibility. The report, available at  http://tinyurl.com/na6722x, suggests that workers with physically-demanding blue collar jobs, workers facing unemployment or underemployment, and workers with lower expectations about living past 75 are all among those significantly more likely to claim benefits early.

Workers claiming Social Security at age 62 see their monthly benefits reduced by 25% compared to what they would have received had they delayed claiming until the current full retirement age of 66. Although early claimers see a reduction in monthly benefits, the study also found that these benefits represent a higher proportion of monthly retirement income for these workers when compared to those retiring at 66.  

Skyrocketing Median CEO Pay Tops $10 Million
Another new study shows that rapidly increasing executive compensation has resulted in median CEO pay topping $10 million dollars for the first time. Last year was the fourth year in a row in which CEO compensation rose. The typical CEO now makes around 257 times the salary of the average worker, a sharp uptick from 181 times in 2009. The rising pay amounts are in part the result of a booming stock market and a higher proportion of CEO compensation coming through company stock. Not surprisingly, executive compensation rose the highest in the banking industry, with last year’s median pay for Wall Street CEO’s up 22% from 2012.

“CEO’s in this country are raking in increasingly obscene salaries while they are cutting workers’ pensions, and wages for the average worker remain flat,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “So much wealth going to those at the very top only underscores the importance of protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare and highlights the necessity of the wealthy paying their fair share to ensure a secure retirement for everyone.” More at http://bit.ly/RGnnhB.

Social Security Administration Considering Closing Most Field Offices
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is considering long term plans that could result in the closing of most of the SSA’s more than 1000 community field offices throughout the country. The SSA’s “Vision 2025” plan proposes shuttering field offices and forcing beneficiaries to rely more heavily on internet and phone based services. Such a move would threaten the jobs of nearly 30,000 field office employees and reduce the availability of face-to-face assistance in navigating Social Security benefits. Last year, more than 43 million people sought help through an SSA field office.

“Closing Social Security field offices would particularly harm the millions of seniors without regular internet access and make it more difficult for workers to be sure they are receiving the full benefits they have earned,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance. For more on the proposed closings, go to http://bit.ly/1rl1Yev.

Fiesta Joins Sinema at Tele-Town Hall Call Regarding Seniors and Veterans
On Tuesday, Mr. Fiesta spoke on a tele-town hall call hosted by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The town hall focused on current issues impacting Social Security and Medicare on Capitol Hill as well as efforts to address the recent scandal involving wait times and the quality of care at Veterans Administration hospitals nationwide. “There are millions of senior vets across the country. It’s absolutely critical that we do everything we possibly can to make sure all of our veterans enjoy a comfortable, secure retirement and receive the quality health care they deserve,” said Mr. Fiesta. 

Voting Restrictions Threaten to Disenfranchise Voters Across South
Republican-backed voting restrictions implemented in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning portions of the Voting Rights Act created problems during recent primary elections in a number of southern states. In states like North Carolina and Arkansas, the new rules led to issues including widespread confusion, absentee ballots being rejected, and some voters being forced to sign affidavits before voting. The laws are currently facing a number of legal challenges, and critics fear that the new restrictions could swing several close elections in November. Read more on the effects of the voter restriction laws at http://on.msnbc.com/TXHlGC.

For a printable version of this document, go to bit.ly/1ku7VRC.

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


Friday, May 23, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-23-14





Headlines:
Quality Home Care and Public Sector Unions at Risk in Supreme Court Case
More than 13,600 Activists Sign Petition Objecting to Sen. Rubio’s Retirement Plan
Resolutions Passed at Las Vegas Convention Now Online
Hearings Examine Strengthening Social Security, Medicare’s “Observation Status”
Anti-Worker Bills Die in Missouri Legislature
Fiesta Joins Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Convention in Atlanta

Quality Home Care and Public Sector Unions at Risk in Supreme Court Case
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Harris v. Quinn, a case involving the payment of union dues by public-sector home health workers in Illinois. The decision could come as early as next week or as late as the end of June. The case, backed by the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, was brought by an Illinois woman who argues that the mandatory payment of union dues is a violation of her free speech rights.

Long standing Supreme Court precedent allows public-sector unions to collect fees from non-union members in order to support non-political activities like the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements. A number of disability and senior advocacy organizations, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, have filed briefs arguing that weakening collective bargaining of public-sector home care workers would threaten the reliable care that allows seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes.
  
“The Supreme Court must stop this attempt to radically weaken the collective bargaining power of public-sector unions. When home health workers are able to seek fair compensation through a strong union, seniors receive higher quality care with less turnover among caregivers,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. Read more about how the ruling might impact home care at http://tinyurl.com/pha8sgq.

More than 13,600 Activists Sign Petition Objecting to Sen. Rubio’s Retirement Plan
So far, more than 13,600 activists have signed the Alliance petition telling Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that now is not the time to cut - but rather, to strengthen and expand - our retirement security system.  Last week, Sen. Rubio proposed dismantling Medicare and raising the retirement age (http://tinyurl.com/pbkd2rw). If you have not yet signed the petition and would like to, please go to http://tinyurl.com/oxqophe.

Resolutions Passed at Las Vegas Convention Now Online
The resolutions that were passed recently at the Alliance’s national membership convention in Las Vegas are now posted online at http://retiredamericans.org/issues/resolutions. The resolutions address such issues as corporate attacks on post-retiree health care and the ultra-conservative agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Photographs, handouts and additional material from the plenary and action workshops at the conference are also posted on the Alliance web site, at http://retiredamericans.org/newsroom/2014_Convention_Vegas.

Hearings Examine Strengthening Social Security, Medicare’s “Observation Status”
This week on Capitol Hill, two separate subcommittees held hearings on retirement issues championed by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, which Sen. Brown chairs, held a hearing entitled “Strengthening Social Security to Meet the needs of Tomorrow’s Retirees.” In order to counter stagnant wages and lack of access to private pensions, Sen. Brown called for expanding the Social Security program by changing the benefits formula, adopting a more accurate means of calculating cost of living adjustments (COLA), and increasing benefits for the most vulnerable populations. Read Senator Brown’s remarks at http://1.usa.gov/1jz9iO2.

The second hearing, held by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, focused on hospitals and the Medicare program. The subcommittee discussed the way hospitals are increasingly using an “observation status” patient designation in order to care for patients in the hospital without officially counting them as in-patients. Because the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Medicare benefit requires a minimum three day in-patient stay, seniors are discovering they are ineligible for post-acute care as a result of significant portions of their hospital stay having been spent under the “observation status” designation. Sen. Brown has cosponsored a Senate bill which would count time individuals spend under “observation status” towards satisfying the three-day stay requirement - a change which will make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to access the care they need.

“Addressing the ‘observation status’ classification will save seniors millions of dollars by making sure that their hospital stays are covered by Medicare as they expected, and not excluded due to a loophole,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Anti-Worker Bills Die in Missouri Legislature
The Missouri state legislature wrapped up its annual session last week without passing a pair of controversial anti-union bills. The first measure, a so-called “right-to-work” bill, came up for a vote in the state House last month and fell four votes shy of moving on to the state Senate. The measure would have prohibited unions from negotiating a security clause with employers. Security clauses require new workers receiving the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to help pay costs associated with representation. “Right-to-work” laws, often referred to as “Right to Work for Less” laws, are strongly backed by business groups and are associated with reduced salaries and benefits in states in which they have been adopted.

A second bill was related to the issue termed “paycheck protection,” which has been referred to as “paycheck deception.” It would have required public sector unions to receive annual authorization from individual members to retain membership and provide dues as a source of political campaign contributions. Opponents of the bill argue that such legislation is designed to silence public workers and point out that public sector union members already have the right to opt out of contributing money to their union’s political action fund. The bill moved through the state House by a single vote and was set for a final vote in the state Senate before a last minute compromise between Senate Democrats and Republicans ended consideration of the measure. More at http://bit.ly/RSdKg7.
 
“We are grateful for the work of the Missouri Alliance in helping to stop these harmful pieces of legislation,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance.

Fiesta Joins Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Convention in Atlanta
On Wednesday, Mr. Fiesta was in Atlanta for the retirees’ conference of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). He spoke about threats to Social Security and the 2014 midterm elections.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://tinyurl.com/qeu9km9.

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