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Showing posts from 2013

48th Wedding Anniversary

It was 48 years ago today that I married Elaine Adams. We got hitched at the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana on December 11th, 1965 with a dinner afterwards at the Hotel Gary.When I think of how long I’ve known Elaine I really do have to think about it. Let’s see…I met her in 7th grade. We were in the same home-room together. Home-rooms were the first period of the class day and were made up of students according to alphabetical last names.I remember so well how pretty I thought she was. Although I had my eye on her, she wouldn’t give me the time of day. As a matter of fact, she teased me. She sat a few seats in front of me and I do remember our eyes meeting once and she just batted them at me. I couldn’t let anyone know I was interested in her because I was on the football team, and we weren’t really supposed to be very interested in girls. Most of the gals dated Freshman boys anyway.
It wasn’t until we were Juniors that we began dating. It was in August at the beginning of fo…

Education Is The Key

How do we get our fellow retirees and active union members to become more active in the fight to preserve Medicare and Social Security?  We must continue educating them. 

On October 3, SOAR Chapter 11-4, a SHIP (Senior Health Information Program) Representative presented a Medicare informational program to help our retirees better  understand and weave through the tangles of information.  Members of SOAR, AFSCM, AFGE, and people of the community attended.  Attendees had many questions and sharing of their own problems and successes dealing with the program. SHIP Representatives are volunteers who go through extensive training, so they are eager to share with any group or individual who many need help. 

I learned of SHIP through SOAR and I encourage all of our chapters to reach out to the SHIP Representative in your area.

Thank you to SOAR for keeping us educated so we may continue to educate our members.

Bonnie Carey, President of SOAR Chapter 11-4, Bettendorf, Iowa

Report from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM)

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are here and while this may be no sweat for folks who have prepared, it’s a bit stressful for those of us with some shopping left to do.  Because Congress is clearly uninterested in putting more Americans back to work, your pals at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) are asking Santa for “more jobs.” But while we wait on Washington and hope St. Nick can help, we can still take the power of job creation into our own hands.

How? Buy American. We spend billions of dollars every holiday season on gifts for our loved ones. So let’s put that money to good use and support manufacturing jobs in the process! Why? When we invest in things made in our own communities, we invest in the future of our country. And there are several websites and directories that can help consumers do just that.

Here are two websites with products made here, at home, in union businesses. In the United States, Labor 411 hosts a directory of over …

Senate Finally Fixes The Filibuster

The U.S. Senate finally voted to change the rules and end the practice of filibusters on presidential nominations to the executive branch and to the courts (except the Supreme Court).

The abuse of the filibuster to undermine policies that the minority could not defeat through the normal legislative process has harmed our democratic institutions and had to be addressed. With this change, the Senate has restored fairness and honor to the nomination and confirmation process for executive and judicial nominations.

Prior to this reform, the Senate was unable to act on issues important to all Americans. The President will be able to fill executive positions critical to creating middle-class jobs, fixing the housing crisis, cleaning our air and water, holding big corporations accountable, and so much more.

The Senate can now move forward and end the crisis in our judiciary system. Too many vacancies exist in our federal courts. They can now confirm judicial appointments ending the empty-benc…

Keeping Health Care Promises

Much has been written and televised lately about a commitment to allow people to keep their health care if they like it. Our politicians in Washington are crying out that a promise made should be kept and that other options are more expensive. I agree to a point.

What I do not understand is why all of a sudden it is a miscarriage of justice to change health care plans for people. This has been happening for years to our retirees and other workers around the country. Many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of our retirees have received similar letters in the past notifying them of a change or cancellation of their health care by their former employers. The big difference, as I see it, is that we had a written agreement, not a campaign promise, which was broken. Why did they not speak up for us then?

The USW has been in court many times defending our position that we traded raises for benefits and have that understanding in writing. Too many times the courts have ruled we d…

Beneficiaries Celebrate the New Year with a COLA

Many people ring in the new year with champagne. People who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) get to ring it in with a COLA. For 2014, more than 60 million Americans will get a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their monthly benefit payments.        The 1.5 percent increase begins with benefits for more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2014, and payments to more than eight million SSI recipients in late December 2013.
Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax will increase to $117,000, up from $113,700. Of the estimated 165 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2014, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result.

Learn more by reading the press release at

Source: Social Secu…

Scrap The Cap And Any Thought Of A Chained CPI

Starting in 2014, the maximum tax on income for Social Security will be $117,000 per year. That means nothing more is paid into Social Security exceeding this amount. What that means is that the average working person pays the full 6.2% and that the wealthy Wall Street banker type and CEO’s making a million dollars per year are paying less than 1% of their income into Social Security. The higher their income, the less percentage they pay.

To put it another way, a person making a million dollars per year only has to work 15 hours to pay their Social Security tax and the average worker is working all year to pay their Social Security tax. A billionaire pays the same tax in less than a minute. 

Notwithstanding the fact that Social Security is financially sound for the next 20 years or more and does not contribute one cent to the Federal deficit, some are proposing to cut benefits by imposing a new cost of living formula called the “Chained CPI.”

Any long term concerns about Social Sec…

Jack Munro Was A Great Man

Jack Munro was one of my favorite characters. Although I didn't know him really well, he really impressed me with his ability to convince others that his way was the right way. I remember once at an Executive Board Meeting of SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees) that he had just recuperated from a serious operation, A triple bypass heart operation I believe. The biggest cost to him was the parking lot of the hospital. You'll see what I mean when I say that you just couldn't help liking Jack Munro.

Union Veterans Alert

The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a fraud alert about a marketing scam that is targeting veterans who misdial the VA National Call Center (800-827-1000) or the GI Bill Call Center (888-442-4551) phone numbers.  A marketing company created two phone numbers that differ from the real VA numbers by one digit.  If a veteran misdials and calls the bogus number, the answering party will offer a gift card and try to obtain sensitive personal data, to include credit card information.  Please note that the VA will “never” ask for credit card or banking information over the phone.

The two bogus numbers are 800-872-1000 and 888-442-4511.  Please forward this information to all your members, Posts and friends, and share it on your websites.  The bottom line is make sure you know who you are talking to before providing personal information over the phone.  The VA has notified law enforcement authorities.

For a list of toll-free VA phone numbers, go to the VA’s Inquiry Routing & In…

ARA Friday Alert November 22, 2013

Richard Fiesta is Named Alliance’s Next Executive Director
Richard Fiesta has been named the Alliance for Retired Americans’ new executive director, succeeding Edward F. Coyle, who has managed and grown the 4 million-member grassroots advocacy organization since its 2001 founding. The Alliance’s Executive Board voted unanimously to appoint Fiesta, effective December 1. The director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance since 2001, Fiesta pledged that the Alliance will aggressively educate retirees, the public and lawmakers on ways to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, make prescription drugs affordable for future generations and ensure that all retirees can expect a dignified retirement after a lifetime of work.
“It is gratifying to see Ed enjoy his own retirement after improving the retirement circumstances of so many others,” said Barbara J. Easterling, president of the Alliance.  “I know that Rich will continue the All…

Where I was on November 22, 1963

The questioned has been asked, “where were you when President Kennedy was killed”. I suppose that most of us that were alive at that time remember where we were on Nov 22, 1963.

I was in the Navy at the time serving on a Destroyer, U.S.S. Walker (DD517). We were on our way back from Vietnam with several other ships. Being a Signalman, I was on the bridge when I received a message by flashing light that the President had been shot. I remember it so well. Not only because of the content of the message but also because it was a “flash” message which was of the highest priority and the only one I ever received.

I suppose, to be on the safe side, our group of ships turned around for a time and headed back to the Western Pacific until more information came in.

Fiesta Named ARA Executive Director

For Immediate Release
November 20, 2013
Contact: David Blank – 202/637-5275 or 

Richard Fiesta Named Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans

Washington, DC – Richard J. Fiesta has been named the Alliance for Retired Americans’ new Executive Director, succeeding Edward F. Coyle, who has managed and grown the four million member grassroots advocacy organization since its 2001 founding.  The Alliance’s Executive Board voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Fiesta, effective December 1, 2013.

Mr. Fiesta, the Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance since 2001, pledged that the organization will aggressively educate retirees, the public, and lawmakers on ways to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, make prescription drugs affordable for future generations and ensure that all retirees can expect a dignified retirement after a lifetime of work.

“Ed Coyle launched the Alliance for Retired Americans and…

Alliance For Retired Americans Friday Alert, November 15, 2013

Veterans Day Message: “Don’t Cut Veterans’ Benefits” The Alliance continued holding events with coalition partners around Veterans Day this week, drawing attention to the fact that veterans’ benefits would be cut in multiple ways if the chained CPI cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) formula were to be adopted. The chained CPI affects Social Security beneficiaries as well as those who receive veterans’ disability benefits and military pensions. Because of the number of programs that would be subject to the chained CPI, veterans would receive double, triple or more hits. With that in mind, Alliance members held events this week in cities including Waco, Texas; Ankeny, Iowa; St. Louis, MO; and Reading, PA. The events are taking place before a December 13 deadline, when a House-Senate budget conference committee is charged with reaching a 2014 budget compromise. Such a deal could contain a “grand bargain” that would cut seniors’ Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The Waco …

ARA Friday Alert, 11-8-13

Alliance Salutes Veterans All Across the Country;
Ways and Means Committee Misleads on Chained CPI;
Sherrod Brown Co-Sponsors the Strengthening Social Security Act;
Election Day Brings Key Victories in Cincinnati and Virginia;
AFSCME Video Personalizes the Potential Detroit Bankruptcy

Alliance Salutes Veterans All Across the Country
The Alliance and its coalition partners are holding several events around Veterans Day to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. The events also draw attention to the fact that veterans are affected in multiple ways by the chained CPI cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), a cut to earned benefits. On Thursday, seniors joined veterans at events in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Facebook photos at; Appleton, Wisconsin; Champaign, Illinois (video at; and Dayton, Ohio (story at The events are taking place before a December 13 deadline, when a House-Senate …

Union Veterans Speak Out

Please read the following message from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and AFGE President and Union Veterans Council Chair J. David Cox.

On November 11 we celebrate Veteran’s Day, and it’s important to take this opportunity to honor the men and women who have served our nation to protect and defend the liberties and freedoms we all enjoy.

And yet it isn’t enough to speak words like “honor.”

America’s veterans need action, not words.

America’s veterans need a funded and functioning federal government. And veterans need us to protect Social Security, disability benefits and military pensions.

Think of the Vietnam veteran who travels for hours to the nearest VA clinic to get a hearing aid to help compensate for the endless ringing in his ears from a long-ago grenade explosion. To the 22 million veterans in America, the VA is more than “the government.” It’s a vital earned benefit. And when Congress fails to fund the government and closes the VA, it’s people like that Vietnam veteran wh…

More Time Off For Retirees Needed

Change oil in car....check.
Get Shingles shot.....check.
Got a new battery for my wrist watch.......check.
Picked up leaves......check.
Picked gourds.....check.
Roasted coffee....check.
Wrote a letter..........check.
Took a nap................check.
Painted basement floor.....check.

I think maybe we need to negotiate more time off for retirees.

Does NIPSCO Need New Managers and/or Supervisors?

It could be that NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company) needs some new managers and/or supervisors, some that aren’t afraid to direct their work force.

I came to wonder this today after someone approached me asking where my gas meter was located. He said he wanted to check for gas leaks. Was he a qualified NIPSCO worker? No, he was a contracted employee with the URG company based in the state of Michigan of all places.

Does NIPSCO have good, qualified workers to do this type of work? Of course they do. So, why would an Indiana company like NIPSCO make the decision to contract out work that their own workers could do? Well, I can only guess and my guess is that the NIPSCO managers and/or supervisors in the gas department at NIPSCO are too darned lazy to see that this work is done properly by their own workers and so they’re  taking the easy way out by just contracting the work out.

I don’t like it. If there might be natural gas leaking onto my property, I would much rather have…

ARA Friday Alert, Nov. 1, 2013

Social Security Benefits to go up just 1.5% in 2014
Tuesday, November 5 is Decision Day in Key Elections, Ballot Initiatives
Conference Committee Holds Meeting in Advance of December 13 Budget Deadline
Groups Act to Close Loopholes that Allow Many Companies to Pay No Taxes
Maryland-DC and Vermont Alliance Chapters Hold Annual Conferences

Social Security Benefits to go up just 1.5% in 2014
Social Security benefits will rise by 1.5% next year, one of the smallest increases ever in the program's annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The increase is down from the 1.7% increase for 2013. There was no COLA increase at all in 2010 and 2011, because prices fell during the recession. A 3.6% adjustment in 2012 has been the only significant rise in benefits in recent years.

Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, explained the context of the COLA change as it relates to the chained CPI, a formula proposed by some politicians in order to reduce future Social Security COLAs.…

What's That Stuff?

I’ve been spending the last several days painting our basement floor. Actually, I call it a cellar because most people have basements that they can live in and you certainly wouldn’t want to live in ours. It’s chock full of .........well ........... "stuff" I guess you call it so I can only paint portions of it at a time, having to constantly be moving the “stuff” and waiting for the paint in that portion to dry. Then, of course, I have move the “stuff” back and then move some more "stuff" and then start painting again.
I guess a better method would be to paint a portion every year rather than wait until the whole darned thing needs painting.
Actually, most of the “stuff” down there I don’t even know what it is.

ARA Friday Alert, 10-25-13

Harry Reid: No Grand Bargain in the Near Future
Key Negotiator, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Does Not Want to Reduce Medicare Benefits
Detroit’s Bankruptcy Trial Begins
Troubling Trade Deal on the Horizon
New Hampshire and New Mexico Alliance Chapters Hold Conferences, Elect Officers

Harry Reid: No Grand Bargain in the Near Future
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ruled out the possibility that a budget conference committee convening next week will reach a “grand bargain” that would cut Social Security and Medicare, raise taxes and reduce spending. “We are not going to have a grand bargain in the near future,” he said. Instead, he suggested negotiators should focus on a replacement for sequestration and forget “happy talk” about a grand bargain. The comments came a week after the deal he reached with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

A House-Senate budget conference will be established to come up with long-te…

Example of a Forked Tongue

Here’s what Obamacare does for seniors:

1. Your Medicare is protected.
2. You get more preventive services, for less.
3. You can save money on brand-name drugs.
4. Your doctor gets more support.
5. Obamacare ensures the protection of Medicare for years to come.

And here is what Indiana Congressperson Jackie Walorski said on a campaign T.V. add before she voted many times to repeal Obamacare and then to delay Obamacare.

“I’ll oppose any cuts in Social Security or Medicare.”….. “This is personal to me because Martha’s my Mom. I’ll always fight to protect her benefits and yours.” .....Jackie Walorski

Now if that's not an example of a forked tongue, I don't know what it is.

ARA Friday Alert, 10-18-13

Budget Agreement Averts Immediate Crisis, but Threats to Seniors Still Loom;
Alliance Chapters Protest Government Shutdown with Die-Ins, Other Tactics;
Poll Shows Public Once Again Disapproving of Cuts to Social Security, Medicare;
Medicare Enrollment Season is Here – is Your Current Plan Still the Best for You?

Budget Agreement Averts Immediate Crisis, but Threats to Seniors Still Loom
The U.S. House and Senate passed legislation on Wednesday night to end the government shutdown and stop the country from hitting its debt ceiling. President Obama immediately signed the bill into law before a default could ensue. The agreement contains four elements:

The federal government will be funded through January 15, 2014 at sequestration levels;
The debt limit is extended until February 7, 2014;
A House-Senate budget conference will be established to come up with long-term spending plans by December 13, 2013 (however, there will be no automatic enforcement mechanism should a conference repor…

Politics As Usual

Here we go again. Partisan politics are threatening to bring our fragile economic
recovery to a screeching halt. We have once again reached the point where Congress has to pass a Continuing Resolution in order for the United Sates to meet its financial obligations and to prevent our government from shutting down.
Continuing Resolutions are not new. It has been 14 years since the House, the Senate and the president have all agreed on a bill to fund the government for an entire fiscal year. In the past 26 years, Congress and the president have agreed to a year-long budget only three times, in 1989, 1995 and 1997, according to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

So what is the big deal? Instead of moving forward and passing the resolution to keep things running, the Tea Party supporters are attempting to hold our government hostage in another attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act. They have wasted countless hours and squandered millions of dollars opposing a …

An Easy Fix from AAM

An Easy Fix: Lower the Trade Deficit, Lower the Budget Deficit

While tax reform and social program reforms are contentious topics in DC, America’s manufacturing sector waits for our legislators to turn their attention to our problematic trade deficit; which has been staring us in the face for decades. There is an obvious connection between the trade deficit and the budget deficit.  More people working decreases demand for public services while increasing tax revenue, which in turn, would lower our budget deficit.

But we can’t fix our budget deficit or our trade deficit without addressing the elephant in the room: trade with China. China’s trade practices, including its currency manipulation and the illegal subsidies it provides its industries, interfere with our ability to increase exports and create jobs.

There’s a clear connection. In the decade after the U.S. helped China join the World Trade Organization in 2001, America lost 2.4 million middle-income factory jobs. http://www.epi.or…

ARA Friday Alert 10-11-13

Seniors’ Issues Front and Center in Government Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Talks
More than Two Dozen House Republicans Open to a Clean Government Funding Bill
Gerrymandering Has Made the Tea Party Stronger
Early Voting for Cincinnati Pension Issue Has Begun
Pennsylvania Alliance Holds Its Convention in Grantville, PA

Seniors’ Issues Front and Center in Government Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Talks
On Wednesday, a letter instigated by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) was signed by 51 House Republicans, urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to make cuts to Social Security benefits before the debt ceiling is raised and the government is re-opened. To read the letter and see if your U.S Representative was one of those who signed it, go to The letter recommends:

•    raising the retirement age;
•    implementing the chained CPI benefit cut to Social Security;
•    means testing Social Security benefits for higher income recipients; and
•    cutting the FICA withholding rate that funds t…

SNAP and the House of Representatives

A great deal has been written recently regarding the abuse of food stamps. The recent legislation passed in the House has cut nearly $40 billion from this vital program. I decided to do some research to try to understand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) a little better. I was surprised to learn that the maximum benefit a couple could receive was $6.11 per person per day, based on a 30 day month.
This amount does not leave much room for abuse and pretty much puts to sleep the stories of exorbitant amounts of money spent in stores for food and other “goodies.” I was also surprised to read about what you can and cannot buy. I must also add that the $6.11 amount is the “maximum” daily benefit; the SNAP benefit is reduced using a formula, if there is any additional income. I for one would not want to try figure out how I would prepare three meals a day with six bucks.
With many of our retirees having to retire without pensions or with reduced pensions, it is becoming mor…
The Mystery of the Ship of Fear
by Jim Hicks

The freighter Pomona, scabrous with rust, heavy-loaded with scrap iron, was a week off the California coast, westbound for Formosa, when her first mate, Alf Olsen, realized he had not seen the captain for a day and a half. this was not unusual. In 30 years at sea Capt. Jacob Natvig, 51, had developed a real attachment for whisky and he often stayed below. But Olsen decided to investigate. He rapped on the captain’s unlocked door and went into the sitting room. A chair was overturned and papers from the desk littered the floor. Olsen stepped uneasily to the adjoining bedroom and stopped in horror. The captain lay on his bunk, his head gashed below the right ear. Blood sheeted the walls and filmed the porthole so that a ghastly pink glow spread over the room. A big green fire axe which normally hung outside the door lay by the body.

Hands shaking, Olsen backed from the cabin, locked it and ordered the ship turned toward the nearest p…