Friday, April 27, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert April 27, 2012

New Social Security, Medicare Projections No Excuse for Radical Changes
Reacting to new reports on the health of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle warns retirees to be wary of politicians who would use these reports as, “political cover for radical changes that would put seniors at risk while enriching Wall Street and the big health insurance companies.”  Social Security, according to its Trustees, has a $2.7 trillion surplus, enough to fully meet the demands of a growing retiree cohort through 2033.  With no action from Congress, it would cover most benefits through 2086.  The Alliance supports an effort by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to significantly boost the Social Security Trust Fund by requiring the nation’s highest wage earners to pay Social Security taxes at the same rate as middle class workers. 

The Trustees report for Medicare noted that its Trust Fund, which covers hospital care, can fully pay benefits through 2024, and cover most benefits through 2085.  Coyle noted that the 2010 Affordable Care Act set in motion several bold steps to lower Medicare costs through greater emphasis on preventive care and eliminating subsidies to private insurance companies.  These approaches, Coyle said, are in stark contrast to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s proposals to raise the eligibility age, reduce benefits, and radically change Medicare in a way that generates even greater profits for health insurance companies.  To learn more, visit

Report: Media Coverage Skews Social Security Debate
A new report from the noted Columbia Journalism Review concludes that on Social Security, “much of the press has reported only one side of this story using ‘facts’ that are misleading or flat-out wrong, while ignoring others.”  The study was particularly critical of Washington Post reporters and columnists for dramatically overstating Social Security’s fiscal challenges.  The authors said that, while Social Security is not in perfect health, “the one-sided reporting on this issue has influenced the way millions of Americans, especially younger ones, now think about Social Security.”  Commenting on the report, Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben J. Burks said, “this is yet another reminder of how, particularly in an election year, Alliance members must help their friends and neighbors separate fact from fiction in the media and politics,” he said.  To read the report, visit

2012 Congressional Races: Pro-Seniors Candidate Wins in PA, Coyle Outlines Plans to Machinists
U.S. Representative Mark Critz (D-PA), endorsed by the Alliance and many other progressive groups, defeated U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire in a Tuesday congressional  primary that was caused by redistricting.  The Alliance reached out to its members in southwestern Pennsylvania to educate them on Critz’100 percent lifetime rating on the Alliance’s voting record, as well as Altimire’s vote against the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which helps retirees better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. 

Also this week, Mr. Coyle traveled to Las Vegas to speak to a group of retirees with the International Association of Machinists.  Coyle presented legislative and political updates on Social Security and Medicare and outlined the Alliance’s plans for grassroots education and mobilization between now and Election Day.  He urged attendees to quickly combat misinformation campaigns on TV and on the internet that try to scare and mislead seniors, an age group that votes at a greater rate than any others.

Voting Law Changes: NH Alliance Highlights Taxpayer Cost, Civil Rights Group Publishes Manual for Activists
In a leading southeast New Hampshire newspaper, state Alliance president Charles Balban wrote of the high taxpayer cost of a bill in the state legislature to require a government-issued photo identification to vote.  Balban said it would cost $800,000 to educate Granite State residents on what he termed “a radical change in our centuries-old voting tradition.”  Balban added that this figure does not include the cost of producing the new ID cards, as well as the daunting logistical barriers facing seniors living in remote parts of the state.  Visit for his full column.

Also this week, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law produced a handbook for how state and local organizations can help educate and assist prospective voters, particularly minorities and the elderly, who will be greatly affected by these new laws.  The guide, available at, calls the rash of state voter ID laws, “a costly solution in search of a problem that only serves to effectively disenfranchise certain voters.”  A study by New York University concluded that one is more likely to be a victim of a lightning strike than someone voting under their name.  Alliance members will learn more about new voter ID laws at two upcoming Regional Meetings, April 30-May 2 in Orlando and May 14-16 in Philadelphia. Register today at or call 202/637-5377.

Connecticut Alliance Members Rally, Lobby at State Capitol
Advocating for a series of state legislative bills to strengthen seniors’ economic well-being and ability to live independently in their own communities, over 100 Connecticut Alliance members and others gathered on Tuesday in Hartford for the state Alliance’s “Senior Day at the Capitol.”   Retirees made lobby visits to their elected officials and gathered under the capitol dome for a rally that featured state legislative leaders and retiree and labor activists.

Speaking at the rally, Connecticut Alliance President Cal Bunnell pointed to two empty rocking chairs alongside the podium, and said, “these are empty because we are not sitting in our rockers, we are active and working hard."  Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling urged attendees to put the day’s lobbying in a larger context, saying, “everything we fight for – state legislation in Hartford, Social Security and Medicare in Washington, and collective bargaining in the workplace – is part of the larger fight for justice and fairness.”

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's Make a Difference

Brothers and Sisters,

We have two weeks.

Two weeks to make a difference in the future of our state, the future of our government and the future of our lives. 

Following the attacks on working people that occurred at the Indiana Statehouse, a record number of union members decided enough was enough and filed to run for office.

Now, we need to support them.

The following is a list of union brothers and sisters, who are facing tough primary election races. We need you to help us get them through the May 8th primary election by volunteering some of your time, treasure and talents these last 14 days.

If you are in these areas please reach out and help. Our involvement can make the difference in these critical races.

Southwestern Indiana
James Amick, Republican candidate for House District 64
James Amick is long time member of the IUOE and is running in the Republican primary for an open House seat. His primary challenger is a former employee of the Mackinac Center, a corporate fu-ded, right wing think tank that advocates against workers rights.  For more information on James, click here. To donate to his campaign, click here. And, to help the Amick campaign by volunteering to go door-to-door with him, please call (812) 664-3980 or email

South Central Indiana
Trent Wisner, Democratic candidate for House District 69
Trent Wisner is a union electrician of 12 years with IBEW LOCAL 481 and a first time candidate who, once elected, will be a strong voice for working men and women in the Statehouse. He is running to replace retiring Democratic State Representative David Cheatham and faces primary opposition.  Trent is going door-to-door every week night evening and every Saturday.  For more information on Trent, click here. To donate to his campaign, click here.  To help out on his campaign please call 812-592-2530 or email

*The campaign will meet on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at the Jennings County Democrat Headquarters, located at 10 3rd Street, in North Vernon to walk the district.

North Central Indiana
Steven Wilson, Republican Candidate for House District 38
Steven Wilson is a teacher and active union member running against incumbent Republican State Representative Heath VanNatter, who supported the myriad of anti-workers and anti-public education bills in recent legislative sessions. To assist Steven Wilson’s campaign, please call 765-459-5692 or email

Indianapolis Area
Michael Scott, Republican Candidate for House District 91
Michael Scott an electrician and 21-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 481. He is challenging incumbent State Representative Robert Behning, the Chair of the House Education Committee, in the Republican primary. Rep. Behning not only supported Right to Work, he led the attacks on public education and teachers.  To learn more about Michael or to donate to his effort, click here. To volunteer to go door-to-door with his campaign, call 317-517-0947 or email

Dan Forestal, Democratic Candidate for House District 100
A firefighter and first time candidate for office, Dan Forestal is running for an open seat that is currently held by Democratic State Representative John Day, who is retiring. Dan is an excellent candidate who will be a fighter for working people once elected. He is backed by his local Democratic party, but faces primary opposition.  To learn more about Dan, click here. To assist his campaign, please call 317-919-1748 or email Katie at

*The campaign will meet on Saturday in the parking lot of the Fountain Square Family Dollar Store, located at 1017 East Morris Street, in Indianapolis at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for walks in the district.

Northwest Indiana
Diana Boersma, Republican candidate for House District 16
A teacher and active union member, Diana Boersma is challenging incumbent Republican State Representative Doug Gutwein, who is the current Chairman of the House Labor Committee and was a strong supporter of Right to Work.  Defeating Rep. Gutwein in the primary would send a strong signal about the Republican overreach witnessed over the last 2 years. To learn more about Diana or to donate to her campaign, click here. To assist her campaign by going door-to-door with her, please call 219-863-3957 or email

State Senator Earline Rogers, Democratic Candidate for Senate District 3
A retired public school teacher and well respected voice in the Statehouse, State Senator Earline Rogers has a long and strong record of fighting for working people. For more information on Sen. Rogers, click here. If you would like to volunteer on her campaign, please call 219-359-8834 or email

State Representative Earl Harris, Democratic Candidate for House District 2
A leader in the House and a staunch advocate for working people, Rep. Harris has repeatedly stood with us throughout his career. He now faces a primary opponent.  If you would like to assist him, please call 219-741-4058.

State Representative Charlie Brown, Democratic Candidate for House District 3
A fighter for working families, Rep. Brown has been an outspoken advocate on issues that confront working men and women. He also faces primary opposition. To assist Rep. Brown, please call 219-938-0988 or 219-644-6319.

State Representative Vernon Smith, Democratic Candidate for House District 14
Rep. Smith is another outstanding friend of labor who has fought to improve the lives of working families throughout his career. He is being challenged in the primary. If you would like to assist Rep. Smith, please call 219-201-3659.

In Solidarity,
The Indiana AFL-CIO

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Social Security, Medicare Reports No Excuse for Radical Changes

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

“Current and future retirees must be wary of Mitt Romney and others who will use today’s Trustees reports as political cover for radical changes that would put seniors at risk while enriching Wall Street and the big health insurance companies.

“Today’s reports do not justify the extreme ideas advocated by Mitt Romney and right-wing groups.  Increasing the retirement age would be terribly unfair to workers, particularly those in blue-collar and service sector jobs.  Privatizing Social Security would let Wall Street firms profit while gambling workers’ Social Security savings on the roulette wheel of the stock market.

“A more reasonable approach, one that would extend the Social Security Trust Fund to 2052, is the Rebuild America Act by Senator Tom Harkin.  It would require the highest-earning Americans to pay their fair share in Social Security payroll taxes, and would change the Cost of Living Adjustment to better reflect seniors’ daily needs. 

“The Medicare Trustees report reminds us of the long-term need to manage the rising health care costs for seniors.  The 2010 Affordable Care Act takes a number of bold steps in that direction, including free preventive and wellness services to identify and treat problems before they become chronic and costly.  Also, by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, seniors are now better able to follow their doctor’s orders and stay healthy.  The law strengthens the Medicare Trust Fund by eliminating wasteful subsidies to private insurance companies.  Not only would Mitt Romney repeal these common-sense improvements, but his Medicare ‘reform’ plan would steer millions of seniors away from traditional Medicare and generate even larger profits for the big health insurance companies. 

“The ‘sky is falling’ warnings from the right wing that accompany these reports are part of a larger agenda to scare seniors and push extreme changes.  But seniors cannot pay their bills or fill a prescription off of heated ideology and opportunism.  Instead, they need responsible, level-headed action from their elected officials to help keep Social Security and Medicare – two of America’s greatest success stories – strong for generations to come.”


The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 4 million retirees and their families.

Monday, April 23, 2012

We Must Remember

 By Bill Gibbons

Two dates in May, 2012, represent the anniversary of two major historic labor events. One is the 70- year anniversary of the founding of the United Steelworkers of America  in Cleveland, Ohio. The other is the 75-year anniversary of the May 30, 1937, Memorial Day Massacre, at which time ten brave Steelworker members of Local 1033 were killed by Chicago police, while peacefully marching and picketing for a union contract at the Republic Steel Mill on the South Side of Chicago. Nine died of gunshot wounds and one from being beaten, and over a 100 others, including woman and children were injured. The sacrifices made by those injured and killed at Republic Steel, at what became known as the “Memorial Day Massacre,” was a major contribution to the formation of our union and the improvement in the working conditions, rights, wages and benefits that workers enjoyed for decades thereafter.

Statesman, Edmund Burke in the eighteenth century stated: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” As we reflect on the history of the formation our union and the sacrifices made by so many such as at the Memorial Day Massacre so that so many of us enjoyed the status of the middle class, we see those accomplishments attacked on a regular basis by the extreme conservative Republicans today.

Let’s not allow history to repeat itself. The 2012 elections will be critical to our future and that of our children and grandchildren. We must be educated about the issues and policies and talk to our friends and family to make sure we vote and support worker friendly candidates that believe in workers’ rights.

For those that can make it, SOAR Chapter 31-9, USW Dist. 7,  USW 1010 and the Illinois Labor History Society are sponsoring a special Memorial Day Commemoration event on May 26, 2012 at 10:00 am at the George Washington High School, 3535 E 114 St. Chicago, IL. The day will include great speakers including USW President Leo Gerard, panel discussions on union and workers’ rights, yesterday, today and tomorrow; food and music.

Bill Gibbons, Pace Retirees Representative and Board Representative of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Affordable Care Act

By Connie Entrekin

As you all are well aware, in March of 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - the largest reform of America’s health care system since the 1960s. Despite opposition, and the recent Supreme Court hearings, the Affordable Care Act continues to gain popularity as more provisions are implemented. Seniors and retirees are experiencing tremendous benefits from the new health law with more to follow.

Already this law has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in savings that is being used to improve quality of care.  Under the law, health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny care to older Americans with pre-existing health conditions. Furthermore, Medicare beneficiaries are receiving free annual checkups and they no longer have to pay for preventative screenings. The law has started to close the prescription drug donut hole; it has expanded options for home-based care, provided early retirees with affordable health options, and protected the Medicare trust fund for years to come.

Now is the time to learn and educate others about the benefits of this important legislation, in order to push back against a repeal movement that would destroy the extraordinary gains we have made through this Act.

Please take the time to share with your family, friends and chapter members the importance of this land mark legislation and the need for all of us to defend and promote it.

Connie Entrekin is President of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees

Friday, April 20, 2012

The GOP Budget

One thing that is made perfectly clear after looking at the Ryan Budget, is that the wealthy get tax breaks and everyone else gets screwed! The budget bill, that recently passed in the House of Representatives, turns Medicare into a privatized voucher program that will lead to the demise of Medicare. Under the GOP/Ryan plan, if seniors want the same level of coverage and access to health providers they’ve had in the past, they’ll have to pay more. If they can’t pay more, they’ll have to settle for less. At the same time, under the GOP/Ryan budget, billionaires continue to enjoy tax cuts that our nation simply can’t afford. 

It’s immoral to continually target seniors’ programs to foot the bill for an economic and fiscal crisis they did not create. Middle class Americans have already sacrificed more than their fair share with stagnant wages, plunging home values and vanishing savings. That’s why it’s simply wrong to target the average American to protect the wealthiest among us who continue to reap the benefits of decades of flawed fiscal policy.

The simple fact of the matter is that we don’t have to destroy Medicare to save it! The American people, of all ages, do not believe benefit cuts for the middle class and tax cuts for the wealthy are the right course for our nation.

Jim Centner, SOAR Director

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brothers and Sisters,

As we fight to take back our state and reverse the attacks on working families, it’s important that we know where candidates, of both parties, stand on issues that matter to us.

With that in mind, the Executive Council of the Indiana AFL-CIO made the decision to take the unusual step of endorsing candidates for the upcoming May primary election.  It is our goal to ensure that as many pro-worker candidates emerge from the primary, on both sides of the ballot, as possible.

With questionnaires in hand, delegates from our affiliated organizations recently assembled for a C.O.P.E. Convention to review questionnaires and make endorsements.

The following list of endorsements are recommendations made by the Indiana AFL-CIO C.O.P.E Convention for the 2012 primary election only. Another C.O.P.E. Convention will be held after the primary election to make endorsements for the General Election this fall.

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

Joe Donnelly (D)

Congressional District
1    Pete Visclosky (D) (I)
2    Brendan Mullen (D)
4    Lester Terry Moore (D)
5    Scott Reske (D)
7    Andre Carson (D)
8    Dave Crooks (D)

State Senate District
02    Lonnie Randolph (D) (I)
03    Earline Rogers (D) (I)
05    Deb Porter (D)
08    Jim Arnold (D) (I)
10    John Broden (D) (I)
12    Jim Ball (D)
16    Tom Keen (D)
24    Charles Bender (D)
28    Michael Adkins (D)
30    Tim DeLaney (D)
32    John Barnes (D)
33    Greg Taylor (D) (I)
34    Jean Breaux (D) (I)
35     Mark Waterfill (D)
37    Jim Cahill (D)
40    Vi Simpson (D) (I)
50    Vaneta Becker (R) (I)

House District
01    Linda Lawson (D) (I)
02    Earl Harris (D) (I)
03    Charlie Brown (D) (I)
05    Cory Stith (R)
05    Jerod Warnock (D)
06    Pat Bauer (D) (I)
07    David Niezgodski (D) (I)
08    Ryan Dvorak (D) (I)
09    Scott Pelath (D) (I)
10    Chuck Moseley (D) (I)
12    Mara Candelaria Reardon (D) (I)
14    Vernon Smith (D) (I)
15    Thomas O’Donnell (D)
16    Diana Boersma (R)
16    Rich Ludington (D)
19    Shelli VanDenburgh (D) (I)
22    Jon Hare (R)
22    John Bonitati (D)
26    Rick Cornstuble (D)
27    Sheila Klinker (D) (I)
30    Chuck Sosbe (D)
32    Katie Morgan (D)
33    Andy Schemenaur (D)
34    David Walker (D)
35    Melanie Wright (D)
36    Terri Austin (D) (I)
37    Debbie Driskell (R)
38    Stephen Wilson (R)
40    Sam Follis (D)
43    Clyde Kersey (D) (I)
45    Kreg Battles (D) (I)
48    Randall Weinley (R)
52    Charles Odier (D)
55    Dave Moeller (D)
56    Phil Pflum (D) (I)
60    Peggy Welch (D) (I)
61    Matt Pierce (D) (I)
62    Jeff Sparks (D)
64    James Amick (R)   
64    Mark Norton (D)
66    Terry Goodin (D) (I)
67    Tom Cheek (D)
69    Trent Wisner (D)
72    Sharon Grabowski (D)
73    Sandra Blanton (D)
74    Mike Schriefer (D)
75    Ron Bacon (R)
75    Kevin Derr (D)
76    Trent VanHaaften (D)
77    Gail Riecken (D) (I)
79    Mike Snyder (D)
80    Phil GiaQuinta (D) (I)
81    Win Moses (D) (I)
82    Wes Ortel (R)
82    Mike Wilbur (D)
83    Jeff Good (D)
84    Lee Jordan (D)
86    Ed DeLaney (D) (I)
92    Karlee Macer (D)
93    Ryan Guillory (D)
94    Cherish Pryor (D) (I)
95    John Bartlett (D) (I)
96    Gregory Porter (D) (I)
97    Justin Moed (D)
98    Robin Shackleford (D)
99    Vanessa Summers (D) (I)
100    Dan Forestal (D)

In Solidarity,

Indiana AFL-CIO

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Technology - Keeping up

"The picture is terrible!" so says my son. And then my daughter chimed in, "Yea, Dad. It is bad. You need a new TV." It was the day before my 69th birthday. The annual family gathering was just getting going and technology was coming to call once again.  I responded to my daughter's agreement with, "Oh no, not you too?" I knew I was sunk. The next day there was a wide screen HD TV given to me on my birthday. It was a combination gift from the kids and my wife. The 'I Got Junk" truck was soon in the driveway and my old faithful TV disappeared.

My old TV was exactly 10 years old. I thought it gave me a good picture until I saw the picture on the new set. Amazing! It is so strange how we get use to something and don't recognize the usual wear and tear or deterioration of it over the years. This is one of the best things about having children. They recognize when the old chair sags or the picture on the TV just isn't doing the job.

Keeping up with technological change is not easy for anyone today. And the tendency has to be that the older folks get left behind.  My son always says, "You want to keep up, Dad, or you will just get left farther and farther behind". I know that it is true. I also know that "keeping up" can make life much more interesting.

Just today I communicated with a friend via Twitter concerning his culmination of a solo bike ride across the country. He biked from Bellingham to Bar Harbor and his tweets were fun to receive. I had joined Twitter about a year ago but never used it. Then he told me that he was going to use it to keep people posted about his trip. It was a great way to share a bit of his experience on a daily basis. I found myself looking forward to the short description of his experience. I never thought I would use Twitter but I did and it was fun.

Just a few minutes ago while drinking coffee in a Vancouver, BC coffee shop I took a call from him on my cell phone ( I just got one in April of this year). We arranged to meet in two days and talk out his bike trip. Again, technology that I had refused until just lately came to be of value. I sure look forward to hearing some stories and without the connection it may very well not have happened. Disconnecting our land line and going totally cell phone has it's advantages.

The day after my birthday both kids mentioned that my wireless signal in the house was not working well. It seemed to be irregular. A new router was needed. A quick trip to Best Buy solved the problem. My son set up the new Apple router which he said transmitted with more strength and reliability. So far so good.

I recognized it's importance one evening when our usual conversations paused for just a minute while we sat around the living room. There were seven of us in the room and at that very minute there were seven screens lit. Everyone was on a different site. There was conversation but everyone was doing something different. I know it sounds sort of weird but it only lasted a minute or two. I guess it would be no different than a family gathered around watching one particular program on for instance. Only in this case, everyone was watching whatever they wished. It did seem a bit weird and when I mentioned it everyone laughed and the screens soon went dark.

The last bit of technology that came my way was an Apple TV that he bought and put in our condo. We have had a TV there for years but it was never hooked up to cable or anything other than a DVD player. We used it for watching movies. He thought we  might really enjoy this thing called Apple TV. I had no idea what it was. Last night we found out. We downloaded and watched our first movie through itunes. Then just today I looked under podcasts and found that he had downloaded some of my favorites including this one, Retirement Talk.

Along the bottom of the screen were several podcasts that were suppose to be similar to mine. They were under the heading of Personal Journals. There was one called, "Thinking Allowed" put out by the BBC. I read the brief description and there was the name of one of my former students from 40 years ago. Gordon Mathews a professor of anthropology at the Chinese University in Hong Kong was to be interviewed. What a treat! He sounded just like he did years ago. I will be writing him tonight and sending an email.

"Keeping up" with technology certainly has it's advantages. It makes life more interesting. It allows us to communicate in ways most of us can't imagine. It keeps doors and windows open. It ties families and friends together as past generations could never imagine.

Source: Episode 242 of the podcast Retirementtalk by Del Lowery. You can read or listen to his podcasts at or find his podcasts on iTunes. They're great.

Monday, April 16, 2012

NIPSCO can't afford cake

This year the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary with a party. The company has determined that NIPSCO union retirees (you know, the people who built the company) will not be invited as it would be cost prohibitive to invite retirees to any kind of celebration. The company will be distributing booklets with information and photos of its 110 year existence but if a retiree wants a copy of it they will have to buy it from the publisher of the book.

This should be no surprise to any NIPSCO retiree as this company has shown a lack of any  sensitivity and a total disregard of the needs of its retirees.

On April 6, the Northwest Indiana Times reported that Company directors in 2011 handed NIPSCO chief Jimmy Staton a discretionary bonus of $150,000 for "superior performance."

NiSource CEO Robert Skaggs Jr. (NiSource is the parent company of NIPSCO) received total compensation of $4.98 million in 2011.

Part of Skaggs' package consisted of a $501,000 discretionary bonus awarded by the same directors' committee that handed out Staton's.

No wonder that NIPSCO can’t afford to invite the people who built the company to any type celebration commemorating the past 100 years.

Have you checked the price of cake lately?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert, April 13, 2012

Wall Street Journal Gives Lay of the Land on Senior Vote in 2012
The battle for seniors in 2012 is being fought in large part over Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) House Republican budget, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. The article states that Democrats can regain support from older voters who switched to the GOP in 2008 and 2010 by shedding light on the Republicans’ plans to revamp Medicare (

“That ‘revamping’ would be drastic, because it would give seniors a small voucher, or coupon, to purchase coverage in an expensive, unfair private insurance market,” said Edward F. Coyle Executive Director of the Alliance.

According to the Journal, Mitt Romney, the most likely candidate to be the Republican nominee for President, is proving to be a formidable competitor in this battle. Romney has drawn large shares of older voters during the primaries, and recent polls show him ahead of President Obama among seniors in swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Over the last decade, voters over age 65 have increasingly turned to the GOP - a stark contrast to the Democratic-leaning “Greatest Generation” that preceded them. In 2008, Mr. Obama improved on his party's 2004 showing among every age group, except seniors. An analysis by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press concluded that those over-65 are now “more conservative on social issues, angrier about the direction of the country and more uneasy about the growth of diversity in the U.S. than younger generations.”

“We need to draw attention to the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it. Conservatives broadly support doing that, but moderates and independents are wary of it,” said Mr. Coyle.

Wisconsin Alliance Welcomes Secretary Sebelius to Milwaukee Senior Center
About 250 seniors turned out in Milwaukee on Wednesday for a discussion with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius. The Secretary was at the Washington Park Senior Center to draw attention to the provisions in health care reform that benefit the 49 million people - including 650,000 in Wisconsin - who are covered by Medicare. Wisconsin Alliance President Leon Burzynski facilitated a panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act at the event. According to HHS, 59,345 people in Wisconsin received a 50% discount on prescription drugs when they hit the doughnut hole last year, with savings averaging $639 a person, and a total savings of $37.9 million statewide.

White House Derides Health Care Study
White House officials expressed disdain for a new study released by policy analyst Charles Blahous, who was a special assistant for economic policy in the George W. Bush administration. Blahous claims that the 2010 health care law will add $340 billion to the deficit. Jeanette Lambrew, President Obama’s deputy assistant for health policy, asserts that the claim fits old patterns of mischaracterizations about the Affordable Care Act and that official estimates show the health care law will ultimately reduce the deficit (

On Tuesday, presidential press secretary Jay Carney referred to Blahous’ report as “obviously a partisan analysis.” Carney pointed to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget indicating that the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit over the first 10 years and dramatically over the next 10 years.

Rep. Allen West Says That Dozens of his Democratic Colleagues are Communists
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) warned constituents at a Tuesday town hall event that he's “heard” that 80 of his Democratic colleagues in the House are members of the Communist Party, the Palm Beach Post reported. There are currently 190 House Democrats.

“As a Representative from a state with such a large senior population, Rep. West should instead be focusing on strengthening Medicare and Social Security,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “He has a zero lifetime voting record with the Alliance, and these ideological side shows are distracting him from what his constituents really need.”

A tea party favorite, Rep. West made news in 2011 by saying, “…I was the only black member of a white supremacist motorcycle gang.” (

Alliance Members Work to Save America’s Postal Service
Alliance members turned out on Thursday to support the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), which had put together events across the country in order to save America's Postal Service. NALC held the demonstrations outside of Senate offices in order to put pressure on each senator to oppose S. 1789, a Senate bill scheduled to be voted on as soon as next week. If S. 1789 were to become law, it would hurt retirees and the Postal Service by putting an end to six-day mail delivery in two years, while phasing out door-to-door mail delivery. Many retirees receive their needed prescriptions by mail, and these proposed changes would threaten their well-being. Alliance members also called their senators about the legislation on Thursday.

Norm Wernet Honored at Ohio Convention
On Tuesday, the Ohio Alliance held its Spring Convention in Columbus. National Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling sent a letter that was read at the convention, congratulating Alliance Field Organizer for Ohio Norm Wernet on his upcoming retirement. “Whenever I have joined you for labor and retiree events in Ohio, I have always been struck by the large turnout of dedicated, politically savvy Ohio Alliance members that you have organized...(W)e hope that you enjoy the same relaxing, healthy, and happy retirement that you have worked so hard for others to have,” wrote Ms. Easterling.

Easterling Addresses Communications Workers in Maryland
Ms. Easterling was in Beltsville, Maryland on Wednesday to address the CWA Local 2108 Retired Members Council. She warned the attendees, “We cannot be the last generation of Americans who ever gets to retire. We cannot let this happen.”

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Alliance Clips and Retiree News: April 11-12, 2012

Alliance Mentions

Alliance for Retired Americans Gives Critz 100% Rating, Altmire Receives 70%
Jake Sternberger
April 12, 2012
Keystone Politics

The Alliance for Retired Americans have officially endorsed Rep. Mark Critz over Rep. Jason Altmire ahead of the April 24 Pennsylvania primary. In the newly-released ARA 2011 voting record, Critz has proven his loyalty to seniors by scoring a perfect 100% on ten issues voted on last year; Altmire scored 70%. Both representatives, who have been gerrymandered into the same district, hope to capture the key senior constituency.

Health Secretary Makes Pitch for Affordable Care Act
Guy Boulton
April 12, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, visited Milwaukee Wednesday during her cross-country tour in support of the Affordable Care Act. Two years after its passage, the Obama Administration is holding events to explain relatively basic and minor provisions of the law that may be misunderstood or overlooked by many Americans. Wisconsin has a particularly key constituency; nearly 49 million Wisconsin residents are covered by Medicare.

Democratic Club Meets Monday, April 16, 6:30 at Downtown Library
April 10, 2012
Democratic Club of North Florida

The DCNF will host a panel discussion about the possible affects the 2012 Legislative session may have on citizens of North Florida. Various lawmakers and community leaders will serve as panelists, including Barbara DeVane, a representative of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

Los Angeles City Council Unanimously Endorses the California DISCLOSE ACT, AB 1648
California Clean Money Campaign
April 11, 2012

The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to endorse the DISCLOSE Act, which would require the top funders of political ads to disclose their identity on the actual production. The non-partisan effort hopes to help voters make better informed decisions by having access to the knowledge of influences behind political ads. The California Alliance for Retired Americans is one of the several additional organizations supporting the act.

Health Care

White House Derides Healthcare Study
United Press International
April 10, 2012

White House officials are putting down the new study released by policy analyst Charles Blahous, which claims that the new health care law will add $340 billion to the deficit. Jeanette Lambrew, President Obama’s deputy assistant for health policy, asserts that the claim fits old patterns of mischaracterizations about the Affordable Care Act and that official estimates show the health care law will ultimately reduce the deficit.

Supreme Court Justices Possibly Misunderstood Insurance
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
April 11, 2012
Huffington Post

The columnist Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar considers a scenario in which the Supreme Court could possibly misconstrue part of the health care law. During the Supreme Court arguments, it was apparent that some of the justices and lawyers believed consumers would not be able to buy low-cost, stripped-down insurance to satisfy their health care requirement. However, Alonso-Zaldivar expounds upon the little-discussed “bronze” plan provision of the health care law.

Obama Promotes Health Care Law – Using Romney
David Jackson
April 12, 2012
USA Today

The Obama re-election team is looking to promote the federal health care law by tying it in with today’s sixth anniversary of former Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2006 health care overhaul in Massachusetts. A recent campaign ad features policymakers who collaborated with Romney for “Romneycare” and later were tapped to work with the Obama Administration. The ads highlight the flip-flop stances Romney has taken in respect to health care and how he ultimately inspired and advocated the idea of his state approach benefitting the nation prior.


More Companies Flee Association with ALEC
Marcos Restrepo
April 12, 2012
The Colorado Independent

An aggressive campaign from several progressive organizations has led five corporations to withdraw support from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The secret council is accused of creating and supporting conservative-based legislation to disenfranchise minorities, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. McDonalds is the latest company to distance itself from ALEC.  Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co., Kraft Foods, and Intuit withdrew earlier in the week.


Union Super PAC Unveils Plans
Abby Philip
April 12, 2102

The AFL’s super PAC, Worker’s Voice, plans to remain as its own political entity rather than supporting specific candidates or the Democratic Party. Hoping to inspire workers to connect and build relationships together, Worker’s Voice hopes to use grassroots efforts and digital technologies to mobilize and spread awareness. One of the biggest initiatives of the super PAC is countering state “voter protection” efforts that are making it more difficult for marginalized voters to cast a ballot.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Save America's Postal Service

April 12 Demonstrations to
Save America’s Postal Service

Join us April 12 for demonstrations to oppose S. 1789

On April 12, the National Association of Letter Carriers will hold “Save America’s Postal Service” demonstrations outside of Senate offices across the country. They are designed to put pressure on each senator to oppose S. 1789, a bill in the U.S. Senate scheduled to be voted on as soon as next week.
The timing and impact of these events will be critical in helping us to stop S. 1789 and save America’s Postal Service.
If S. 1789 were to pass, the bill would hurt retirees and the Postal Service by:

·    Putting an end to six-day mail delivery in two years.
·    Phasing out door-to-door mail delivery.

These events are meant to engage the public through the use of speeches, handouts and demonstrations to make our voices heard. Many retirees receive their needed prescriptions by mail.  These proposed changes could threaten their well-being.
The Postal Service has a wide variety of supporters, many of whom may wish to participate in “Save America’s Postal Service” demonstrations, including small-business owners who use the mail to advertise, veterans groups, local elected officials, labor union members, faith leaders, and progressive allies who have concerns for the plight of working men and women.

On Thursday, Please Call your senators toll-free at 1-888-863-6103
and tell them to vote NO on S. 1789 to save America’s Postal Service.

Please click the following link to find a location near you

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Parts of Wisconsin's Controversial Anti-Collective Bargaining Law are Struck Down

Two parts of the controversial Wisconsin law that severely curbs collecting bargaining rights were overturned last Friday by a federal judge, giving a partial victory to union members, retirees, and activists who have struggled to retain their rights. The two parts struck down would have banned public workers from allowing union dues to be taken out of their paychecks and required annual recertification votes agreed upon by all members in order to stay organized.

“Retirees and workers have really stuck together to go up against Governor Scott Walker,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Retirees know how important collective bargaining is – the better you work, the better you retire.”

Wisconsin elections officials said last week that nearly 901,000 signatures were collected on petitions to recall Gov. Walker (R) from office, more than enough for an election to be ordered. A primary for that election is set for May 8, followed by a general election June 5. At least three Democrats are running for governor, making a primary likely. Recall drives against Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four GOP state senators were launched in response to the anti-collective bargaining law the Governor and the Republican-led Legislature enacted last year.

State Chapter Update: Michigan, New Hampshire
Last Friday, approximately 130 retiree delegates convened to found the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans (MiARA). The newly-chartered Michigan Alliance has its work cut out for it in 2012, as it engages in important state and federal legislative initiatives affecting the retirement security of older Michiganders.

The founding convention attendees heard from U.S. Rep. John Conyers; State Sen. Vincent Gregory; Brenda Moon, MI AFL-CIO Regional Field Rep.; and several representatives from the Alliance for Retired Americans including Barbara J. Easterling, Alliance President; Ruben Burks, Alliance Secretary-Treasurer; Dani Pere, Alliance Field Mobilization Director, and Rich Fiesta, Alliance Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs.

The following officers were elected: President – Dick Long; Executive Vice President – Henry Lykes; First Vice President – Judy Foster; Treasurer – Charlie Robinson; and Secretary – Richard McInerney.

Mr. Long said, “Retirees in Michigan must take heed. Our Governor’s exacted attacks on pensions and workers’ rights threaten to unravel what we worked our whole lives to create.”

Ms. Easterling said, “Michigan is the Alliance’s 32nd chartered state. Seniors in Michigan will help shape the future of Social Security and Medicare. This year and beyond, we will do everything we can to help seniors separate fact from fiction.”

Also, in Nashua, New Hampshire on Monday, Mr. Fiesta spoke to Alliance members on the topic, “What’ll Congress do with Medicare?”

Single Retirees Often Face Extra Challenges
The Wall Street Journal blogged recently about the financial difficulties that many single retirees face late in life at Rising numbers of older adults are finding themselves single – almost half (43%) of Americans who are 65 or older, according to a 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report. In that age group, 27% are widowed, 12% are divorced or separated, and 4% never married.

Midlife divorce is on the rise: Think tank BMO Retirement Institute estimates that 44% of U.S. marriages will end before the couple’s 30th anniversary. Retirees who find themselves suddenly single face one significant disadvantage: Their income typically drops without their partner’s Social Security or pension, but many expenses stay fixed. Examples: rent or mortgage, property taxes, home maintenance and repairs, car and gas, and utilities. And they may incur new costs replacing chores done by their partner, such as lawn-mowing, tax preparation or cooking.

So what’s a single retiree to do? Be vigilant about making sure you’re balancing income and expenses, BMO says. When your expenses are outpacing your income, they recommend trying to make changes rather than draw down on reserves. They suggest downsizing your housing, sharing a home with friends, or lightening your insurance coverage.

Something on Your Mind? Write Letter, Win Pen!
Is there something you want retirees in your community to know about?  Take a moment to write a letter to the editor, and if it is published, the Alliance will send you a free, union-made “Retirees with the Write Stuff” pen. “Letters to the editor are free and are often widely read,” said Mr. Burks. “With the deep-pocketed business interests we are up against, it’s nice to have an option that doesn’t cost money.” Most recently, Charlie Averill, Janice Ayres, Bruce Bostick, Sam Burnett, Leon Burzynski, Doug Curler, Robert Dougherty, Robert Erzen, Jean Friday, Dave Friesner, Gary Hall, Jo Jacobson, Earline Jones, Don Rowen, Gene Roza, William Stevens, Linda Stone, and Charlie Williams contributed to their local papers. If you have had a letter published lately, please e-mail

American Story Bank
Do you have an interesting personal story to tell? Something involving your prescription drugs, your finances, or perhaps your relationship with your grandchildren?  Let us know. The Alliance is collecting stories for when reporters contact us. We will check our database and do our best to connect seniors with reporters who are looking for a particular type of senior to round out a story – or to profile. Please send story bank e-mails, also, to

Friday, April 06, 2012

A Great Steelworkers Sub District

Most, if not all of the Steelworker Sub Districts have regularly scheduled meetings consisting of the local union leadership in that particular Sub District. This meeting is referred to as a Presidents Meeting or Sub District Council Meeting.

In District 7, Sub District 4, we have what I believe to be a unique bylaw that allows for the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) to be represented and reads as follows:

“Article III – Membership

Those eligible to vote on the affairs of the Council Shall be: Sub District Director, Staff Representatives working in Sub District 4, Local Union Presidents or their Vice Presidents in their absence, and two delegates from Sub District 4 SOAR Chapters that includes retirees from affiliated Local Unions. Those eligible to attend and participate in the discussions of the affairs of the Sub Council shall be the individuals named by the Local Union Presidents of the Sub District. Also the Chairman of any committee duly constituted by the Council, who must maintain membership in a Local Union under the jurisdiction of and in good standing with this Council, shall also be duly authorized delegates to this Council.”

I am very grateful to the leadership of our Sub District Council and proud of them for inviting our Steelworker Retirees to participate and I hope that every Sub District in our union will consider making this provision.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Be Prepared for Tornado

There are plenty of web sites devoted to advise in preparing for the event of a tornado. My advise is that families discuss this now rather than later.
Where to go in case of tornado.
What to take with you if time allows, that sort of thing.