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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-2-14

Barbara Easterling, Ruben Burks Re-elected as Leaders of the Alliance;
Conference Includes Broad Range of Speakers – and Vice President Biden by Video;
May is Older Americans Month; Alliance Unveils Medicare Turns 50 Campaign;
Photos from the Convention;
Resolutions Address Social Security Field Office Closings, Wealth Inequality, More;
Minimum Wage Bill does not Advance in the Senate

Barbara Easterling, Ruben Burks Re-elected as Leaders of the Alliance
The Alliance’s 2014 national convention took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday through Thursday of this week. On Tuesday, Barbara J. Easterling, who has been President of the Alliance since February of 2009, was re-elected to a four-year term. Prior to joining the Alliance, Ms. Easterling had served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America and the AFL-CIO. “I want to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the work you do all year long to make the Alliance the outstanding organization it is,” said Ms. Easterling. 
Ruben Burks, who has been Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance since it was launched in 2001, was elected to another four-year term. Mr. Burks was once the Secretary-Treasurer of the United Auto Workers. “To have the support of the members of this fine organization, whom I respect immensely, means a great deal to me.” Mr. Burks said.

Regional Board member JoEtta Brown of Nevada was elected Executive Vice President of the Alliance. More than 500 Alliance members watched and cheered the election results. Six non-union members were elected to the Community Advocacy Network (CAN) Board on Tuesday: Jean Dobashi of Hawaii; Doris Guy of Nevada; Dr. Joseph Boffa of Connecticut; John Jensen of Nebraska; Roosevelt Broadnax of Missouri; and Michael Kelly of Illinois.Former Hawaii Alliance President Al Hamai served as Parliamentarian during the convention. 

“Thank you to all of our speakers and presenters, and to our attendees who made the conference such a success by being so engaged,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Conference Includes Broad Range of Speakers – and Vice President Biden by Video!
Speakers in Las Vegas included Linda Chavez-Thompson, former Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO; Jim Clark, President, IUE-CWA, the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America; Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; J. David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees; Jimmy Gilbert, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council; Justin Jones, Nevada State Senator; Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); and Danny Thompson, Nevada AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Nevada Alliance Vice President.

Liz Shuler, Alliance Executive Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, spoke of the effects that Enron had on her family, tying it to current threats to union members and retirees. Mr. Fiesta gave the lay of the land politically.

Vice President Joe Biden sent a video greeting that was shown on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), Sens. Tom Harkin (IA) and Sherrod Brown (OH), and Reps. Steven Horsford (NV), Dina Titus (NV), and Linda Sanchez (CA) also sent videos. In addition, union presidents Bob King (UAW), Randi Weingarten (AFT), and Leo Gerard (United Steelworkers) sent videotaped messages.

May is Older Americans Month; Alliance Unveils Medicare Turns 50 Campaign
The Alliance is celebrating the fact that May is Older Americans Month with the announcement of its “Medicare Turns 50” campaign. Medicare is our most successful health care program in America's history. For nearly fifty years, it has given seniors the ability to see a doctor and fill a prescription – and it has kept them out of poverty. The Alliance for Retired Americans is leading the charge to celebrate Medicare's 50th birthday, beginning in 2014 and culminating in 2015. Join us! More at

Photos from the Convention
View convention photos at (Flickr) or (Facebook). For photos from the Hispanic seniors press event, go to

Resolutions Address Social Security Field Office Closings, Wealth Inequality, More
Sixteen resolutions were passed at the convention. Two honored former Executive Director Edward F. Coyle and former Executive Vice President Judy Cato. Other resolutions commemorated Older Americans Month and the fact that “Medicare Turns 50” next year. Still others pledged to mobilize seniors for the 2014 Elections; improve Social Security Benefits; fight corporate attacks on post-retirement health care; and ensure retirement security in America.

In addition, resolutions were passed opposing the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision; opposing the agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); addressing income inequality; supporting the “Preserving the Senior Community Service Employment” Program; calling for the saving of Senior Corps; supporting new, equal, dignified access for the disabled in post offices and federal buildings; allowing Postal banking; and stopping Social Security field office closings and services cuts.

Action Sessions Delve into ALEC, Social Security Scams and Other Threats
Several action sessions at the convention allowed the delegates in attendance to break out into smaller groups and form plans for future activism. In particular, sessions devoted to standing up to ALEC, and to addressing scams aimed at Social Security beneficiaries, were noted for opening delegates’ eyes to the newest threats that retirees face. Materials from the sessions will be posted on the Alliance web site shortly.

Minimum Wage Bill does not Advance in the Senate
An election-year showdown over raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour saw U.S. Senate Republicans block the measure on Wednesday, unleashing a torrent of criticism from President Barack Obama and Democrats. The measure gained 54 of the 60 votes needed to end debate on the issue. For a tally of the vote, go to
“Many seniors rely on minimum wage jobs to supplement their Social Security benefits,” said Ms. Easterling. “A higher minimum wage would also mean more dollars contributed to the Social Security Trust Fund,” she added.

For a printable version of this document, go to

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


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