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 We looked, and it repealed none.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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-16-14

Headlines:
Marco Rubio Proposes Dismantling Medicare and Raising the Retirement Age
Gender Gap Continues for Female Workers in Retirement
Striking Fast Food Workers Stage Protests Across the Globe
States Refuse to Expand Medicaid and Still See Increased Enrollment
A Rose by Any Other Name...

Marco Rubio Proposes Dismantling Medicare and Raising the Retirement Age
On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech at the National Press Club in which he laid out his sweeping proposal to confront the nation’s retirement security crisis through cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Rubio is widely viewed as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.  In addition to laying out policy changes involving retirement savings plans and incentives for older workers to remain in the workforce, Senator Rubio proposed raising the retirement age, a move that would force millions of Americans to work longer to collect the benefits they have earned. Although Senator Rubio cited the “rise in life expectancy” as the rationale for this change, his proposal would disproportionately harm low-income and minority seniors who have not seen their life expectancies rise in step with other workers.

Senator Rubio also used the speech to endorse Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposal to end Medicare’s guarantee by privatizing the program and converting it to a voucher system. Under the proposed changes, Medicare would be replaced by a system in which seniors would be given a voucher redeemable towards the purchase of either private insurance or a modified Medicare plan. Since these vouchers would likely fail to cover the full cost of coverage, seniors would be expected to make up the difference out of pocket. It is expected that adopting such a system would result in millions of seniors paying more for coverage. “If Senator Rubio really cared about strengthening retirement security, he would join the effort to expand Social Security benefits as Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Linda Sanchez have proposed. If he really cared about addressing the retirement security crisis, and there is one, he would get on board with raising the minimum wage. Social Security benefits are based on wages. By calling Social Security ‘outdated,’ Senator Rubio shows how out of touch he is with the needs of current and future retirees,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance.  Read the Alliance’s reaction to the speech at http://bit.ly/1jxWqTU.

Gender Gap Continues for Female Workers in Retirement
A Congressional report on recent census data points out again that women lag behind men when it comes to financial security in retirement. The report shows the average median income for women over age 65 is around $16000 a year – roughly $11000 less than the median income for men of the same age group. Read more at http://cnnmon.ie/1nOf6X6.

Since Social Security ties benefits to lifetime earnings, retirement income for women is reduced by lower wages and a higher likelihood of spending time out of the workforce to care for children or sick family members. Of course, longer average life spans mean women are forced to stretch their savings over a longer period of time. Adding to the financial strain are higher average healthcare costs for women in retirement and higher rates of employment in part-time jobs that do not offer employer sponsored retirement benefits. “This makes it all the more important for Congress to take action to raise the minimum wage and expand Social Security – policies particularly important for easing the financial strain for retired women,” said Barbara Easterling, Alliance President.

Striking Fast Food Workers Stage Protests Across the Globe
On Thursday, fast food employees calling for higher wages, better working conditions, and the ability to unionize staged protests and one-day strikes in cities across the country. Although a series of one-day strikes have been organized over the last 18 months, this week’s strikes were by far the largest yet. The strikes included thousands of workers in 150 Americans cities and support protests by fast food workers in more than 30 countries across the globe. Fast food workers in other nations often face similar corporate policies including low wages, part-time employment, and irregular hours. Organizers hope the strikes become a global movement that puts pressure on low-paying fast food employers to improve working conditions and allow employees to unionize.

These protests bring further attention to the debate about income inequality and ongoing efforts to increase the minimum wage. “These workers are working to feed and support their families. Higher wages mean enhanced economic security for workers and a stronger Social Security system. We need to stand with these striking fast food workers to fight for working families,” said Scott Watts, President of the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans.  For more on the strikes, go to http://on.msnbc.com/RGMt0. For a look at information on how raising wages would improve Social Security protections for workers and strengthen the system, check out the fact sheet from Social Security Works at http://bit.ly/1hOqE5m.

States Refuse to Expand Medicaid and Still See Increased Enrollment
A new analysis of Medicaid enrollment numbers show that many of the states refusing to take part in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion have still seen an increase in new enrollment. In total, 17 of the 26 states that declined to expand Medicaid coverage have seen a boost in enrollment totals. The uptick is seen as the result of a recent advertising and marketing blitz related to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Analysts suspect that outreach efforts encouraging people to sign up for coverage led many new enrollees in these states to discover that they were previously eligible for Medicaid even without the law’s eligibility expansion.

“We continue to see an increasing number of positive benefits from the Affordable Care Act. Even in states where Republican-controlled legislatures are trying to stop citizens from accessing affordable healthcare, the rollout of the law is helping people better understand their options when it comes to getting coverage,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance. For more, read the article at http://onforb.es/QMS5Fv.

A Rose by Any Other Name...
A recently released survey from the state of Kentucky shows that while 56% of respondents in the state expressed dislike for “Obamacare,” only 22% reacted negatively toward “Kynect,” the state’s own health exchange created as a result of the healthcare reform law. This perception gap is consistent with recent national polling showing approval for the “Affordable Care Act” at 7 points higher than approval for “Obamacare”; this despite the terms referring to the same set of reforms. Read more about the perception gap at http://huff.to/1mrSgCl.

For a printable version of this document, go to bit.ly/1jQ6lck.

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

Friday, May 09, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-9-14

Headlines:
Aging Baby Boomers Expected to Almost Double Nation’s Senior Population
Age Divide among Voters is Especially Pronounced in North Carolina
Letter to U.S. Trade Representative Voices Concerns over Trans-Pacific Partnership
Hospital Readmission is more likely if Patient is Unmarried, from High–Poverty Area
Deciding When to Take Social Security Benefits? Attend a NASI Webinar on May 14th
The Alliance Remembers Joyce Hermanstorfer
Victorious Kentucky Derby Trainer, 77, is Oldest Winner Ever


Aging Baby Boomers Expected to Almost Double Nation’s Senior Population
Two newly released reports from the U.S. Census Bureau project that the 65-and-older population in the United States will nearly double by 2050. That segment of the population is expected to jump from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million in 2050. The majority of the growth is projected to occur between 2012 and 2030, as baby boomers hit retirement age. In addition, the older population is expected to include increasing levels of racial and ethnic diversity: the 65-and-older population expected to be 39% percent minority by 2050, up from 20.7% in 2012. The first of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2011.

According to the Census Bureau, the growing 65-and-older population should lead to continued growth in health care related industries and will have implications for businesses and policy makers as they adjust to the nation’s changing demographics. “These projections highlight the importance of protecting Medicare and expanding Social Security, so all of these new seniors will be able to enjoy a more dignified, secure retirement,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. To read more about the reports, go to http://1.usa.gov/1niTUZ3.

Age Divide among Voters is Especially Pronounced in North Carolina
With control of the U.S. Senate potentially hanging in the balance, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) has a difficult fight ahead this year to hang on to her seat. North Carolina has one of sharpest divides in the country between older, conservative voters and younger, more liberal voters. While incumbents tend to win in states like North Carolina that are competitive during presidential elections, turnout among older voters tends to far outpace that of younger voters during mid-term elections. As a result, Sen. Hagan’s chances may hinge on broadening her appeal beyond her young base as she faces Thom Tillis, who won the Republican primary this week.

“Since the youth vote tends to drop in midterm elections, it’s particularly important for seniors to turn out this year to support pro-retiree candidates as we work to stop the House-passed Paul Ryan budget in the Senate and expand Social Security,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance. Read the full New York Times article about North Carolina at http://nyti.ms/1jF1f1Z.

Letter to U.S. Trade Representative Voices Concerns over Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Alliance joined 10 other organizations in submitting a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman expressing concerns about prescription drug and intellectual property provisions of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive proposed trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Like many trade deals, the TPP was drafted in a process involving little public transparency. The letter argues that proposed provisions of the agreement involving prescription drugs and patent standards would negatively impact Medicare and ultimately hurt consumers in terms of drug affordability and safety. For the full letter, go to http://www.cbpp.org/files/tpp_4_30_14.pdf.

Hospital Readmission is more likely if Patient is Unmarried, from High–Poverty Area
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program has focused attention on ways to reduce thirty-day readmissions as well as factors affecting hospital readmission risk. Using inpatient data from an urban teaching hospital, researchers examined how elements of individual characteristics and neighborhood socioeconomic status influenced the likelihood of readmission. Patients living in high-poverty neighborhoods were 24 percent more likely than others to be readmitted, after adjusting for demographic characteristics and clinical conditions. Married patients were at significantly reduced risk of readmission, which suggests that they had more social support than unmarried patients. To read the full report from the journal Health Affairs, go to http://tinyurl.com/mecl69e.

Deciding When to Take Social Security Benefits? Attend a NASI Webinar on May 14th
This coming Wednesday, May 14th from 1pm to 2pm EDT, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) will be cohosting a free webinar on Social Security and decisions about when to start collecting benefits. The presentation will also include focused information for widowed spouses, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans. NASI is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing factual information about social insurance programs including Social Security and Medicare. The webinar will be co-hosted by the National Women’s Law Center, the National Urban League, and the National Council of La Raza. To register, go to http://tinyurl.com/kagg3ej.

The Alliance Remembers Joyce Hermanstorfer
The Alliance fondly remembers Iowa Alliance member Joyce Hermanstorfer, who passed away last Friday at the age of 71. A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, Joyce was an original member of the Iowa Alliance and went on to serve as a regional board member. A kind spirit with a big heart, Joyce was devoted to helping others. In addition to her activism with the Alliance, she was President of CWA Eastern Iowa Retiree Members' Chapter 70901 and worked closely with the Hawkeye Labor Council and the Special Olympics.
Click the link below for a photo of Joyce in action. She is in the center left, wearing a red sweater. https://www.flickr.com/photos/retiredamericans/14135801442.

Victorious Kentucky Derby Trainer, 77, is Oldest Winner Ever
Art Sherman, 77, became the oldest trainer ever to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Sherman promises that he'll be back on the job early next week at his small southern California stable, helping his son groom other prospects before looking ahead to California Chrome's next challenge in two weeks at the Preakness. See his story in USA Today at http://tinyurl.com/mycn3ar.

“Art Sherman’s work with his horse, California Chrome, just goes to show that active seniors can accomplish amazing things,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://tinyurl.com/n3jhn85.

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

President Trumka On The Minimum Wage

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Tribute to Lynn Williams

Lynn Williams Obit

LYNN RUSSELL WILLIAMS

Obituary |  Condolences
LYNN RUSSELL WILLIAMS Obituary
WILLIAMS LYNN RUSSELL

        With great sadness, his children announce the peaceful passing of Lynn at the Harold and Grace Baker Centre, Toronto, on May 5, 2014, at the age of 89. Beloved husband of 53 years of the late Audrey Williams, Lynn will be deeply missed by his sister, Carol, and her husband, Doug Head and their family, and his four children and 11 grandchildren, Judy Hocking, Sarah and Michael, David and Sharon Williams, Rebecca, Jeremy, Evan and Christopher, Barbara Williams and Christopher Dossett, Amanda, Kimberly and Gregory, Brian Williams and Julie Bélanger, Gabriel and Soline. Lynn devoted his working life and passion to the labor movement, seeking to bring the power of working people to the negotiating table to achieve a fair and prosperous society.

In Canada and the United States, he spent 38 wonderful years with the United Steelworkers of America, serving as its first-ever Canadian President from 1983 – 1994. He fought relentlessly for social justice on as many fronts as possible, including as a core supporter of the democratic parties north and south of the border.

While his work has been recognized in many forums, including in 2005 by being honored as an Officer of the Order of Canada, there is no doubt that what mattered most to him was the warm support he received from the rank and file of the Steelworkers Union, whom he considered it a profound privilege to serve.

In his retirement years, the Steelworkers have been as a family for him – a remarkable loyalty that is deeply appreciated by his loved ones. A small private ceremony will be held this week, and a Memorial Service for friends and colleagues will be organized in the near future.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Parkinson Society of Canada or to the United Steelworkers Humanity Fund.

Send condolences at post-gazette.com/gb
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 7, 2014

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Working at the polls is not an easy job

On the evening of May 5, I received a phone call asking me if I would serve as a "judge" in a voting place the following day. I agreed to help even though I had no idea what I would be asked to do.

I reported at 5 am on primary election day and was dismissed at 6:30 pm.

On election day in past years, I simply went to the polls to vote. Oh, on occasion, I've helped as, what I would call,  a runner, taking the elderly or those who needed transportation to the polling place, or simply going around to different locations to find out voting information as to who might need to be reminded to vote. That sort of stuff but never actually working inside.

I've always taken the process for granted. It just seemed to just work pretty well and I never questioned it or even realized how much work is involved in making sure the voting goes well.

For this, I'm a little bit ashamed.

I now admire those who are willing to give up an entire day to undertake such a thankless duty. I appreciate and thank all of them now.

What they make look like a pretty easy job is actually pretty stressful and not at all easy.

Thanks to all of you who have ever done this type of job.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Indiana Congressional voting record for retirees

The Congressional Voting Record for Indiana by the Alliance for Retired Americans, 113th Congress, 1st session, January 2013 to December 2013:
CD 1 Congressman Pete Visclosky (D) Pro Retiree Score: 90% lifetime 95
CD 2 Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) Pro Retiree Score: 0% lifetime 0%
CD 3 Stutzman (R) Pro Retiree Score: 0% lifetime 0%
CD 4 Representative Todd Rokita (R) Pro Retiree Score: 10% lifetime 3%
CD 5 Brooks (R) Pro Retiree Score: 10% lifetime 10%
CD 6 Messer (R) Pro Retiree Score: 0% lifetime 0%
CD 7 Congressman André Carson (D) Pro Retiree Score 100% lifetime 100%
CD 8 Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) Pro Retiree Score 0% lifetime 0%
CD 9 Young (R) Pro Retiree Score 10% lifetime 3%

Friday, May 02, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 5-2-14




Headlines:
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 http://retiredamericans.org/members/Older_Americans_Month.


Photos from the Convention
View convention photos at http://tinyurl.com/ozcvnsq (Flickr) or http://tinyurl.com/oe6fmrm (Facebook). For photos from the Hispanic seniors press event, go to http://tinyurl.com/pkwusl6.

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 http://tinyurl.com/pqgs94m.
“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 http://tinyurl.com/m8lwpg6

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