Posted on: June 18th, 2012 No Comments

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logo N E W S and V I E W S
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61
PO Box 57612
Des Moines, IA 50317
February, 2015
Contact us:  Visit us on the web:
Jan Corderman, Editor
Carl Olsen, Web Spinner

Mark your Calendar!

Western and Eastern Iowa Meetings have been scheduled
Our Council Bluffs meeting will be on Wednesday, March 4, at God Fathers Pizza, 3020 West Broadway (712-328-9566), starting at 11:00am. Want to know what's happening in Council Bluffs? Bob Mundt Pres. and CEO of the Local Chamber of Commerce will fill us in. Bill Biede, President of the Southwest Iowa Building Trades Unions and an organizer for the Alliance of Retired Americans will brief us on legislative battles. We're also pleased that "Governing
Under the Influence" staff Josh Skipworth and Kevin Rutledge have agreed to work with us to enhance our bird-dogging skills to be better able to get candidates to answer important questions and to influence their position on issues we care about. GUI is a new project of the American Friends Service Committee, focused on defining the debate during the upcoming presidential campaign. 

The Burlington meeting is set for 10:30am on May 19, 2015, at Big Muddy's.

The Increasingly Unequal States of America.
From Robert Reich: If you want a single reason why so many Democratic candidates lost big on Election Day, it's this: Income inequality. While our economy remains on a path to recovery, most of the gains continue to go to the top 1%, as median household income sags. In the new EPI report The Increasingly Unequal States of
America, Mark Price and Estelle Sommeiller find that between 2009 and 2012 the top 1 percent captured between half and all of the income growth in 39 states — a continuation of a trend that prevailed in the three decades before the recession. People rightly believe that our government too often serves the interests of the moneyed few, leaving behind the many Americans who struggle to make ends meet.
The good news is that progressive and activists actually scored significant victories against income inequality this year. From minimum wage ballot measure victories in Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, to a big win on paid sick leave in Massachusetts, to President Obama's executive order to protect federally contracted workers. Standing up for the issues works!

News Makers! Valerie Madison was in the Des Moines Register recently as the Troop Leader of the Northeast DM Girl Scouts of the University Service Unit. She appeared in the "Iowa Sketchbook", along with several of her Scouts. They were touting their Cookie Kickoff! Mike Hansen made the Register in their photo of the "wake" he participated in marking the fifth anniversary of Citizen's United (check out the next article for more about the Wake). 

Taking Back Our Democracy. On January 21st, the 5th anniversary of the ruling of Citizens United that gave corporations ‘personhood' and the 1st Amendment right of Free Speech (get this--money is their free speech!), over 20 of us from Chapter 61, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and MoveToAmend donned our black garments and black veils and went down to the capital to mourn the loss of our democracy. Move to AmendAs we walked among the legislators through the halls of our capital carrying our signs and walking in silence, we received thumbs up, thank you's, and even some snubs. Our funeral procession lasted about 45 minutes.

Thom Hartmann has said on his program on Free Speech T.V. that the figures point to $4 billion spent just on the midterm elections. And the Nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics says that with no transparency in the giving of this big money, lots of money never gets counted. Is it any wonder that close to 80% of Americans think we need to get rid of the big money in our elections??!! Russ Feingold said it best: "Speech doesn't corrupt, money corrupts. And money isn't speech."

Senators Sanders, Warren warn of Social Security Battle Ahead.
Last week Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that House Republicans have already fired a warning shot that they'll try to scale back future payouts under Social Security. "Republicans are manufacturing a phony crisis in Social Security in order to cut the earned benefits of millions of the most vulnerable people in this country," Sanders said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a similar message to supporters the next day. "We've known for years that Social Security Disability Insurance is set to run low in 2016, and most people assumed that another bipartisan reallocation was coming," Sen. Warren wrote. "But now, thanks to the Republican ideological war on our most important national safety net, disabled Americans could suddenly face a 20% cut in their Social Security checks next year."

Submit your 2014 Iowa Rent Reimbursement Claim now.
You're eligible if:
1) You lived in Iowa all or part of 2014, and live in Iowa now, and 2) Your household income is less than $22,011, and 3) The rental unit you lived in is subject to
property tax, and 4) You (or your spouse) were born before 1950, or 5) You (or your spouse) were age 18 to 64 as of December 31, 2013 and totally disabled. You may be eligible for rent reimbursement of between $250 and $1,000 from this important Program. Go to the Iowa
Department of Revenue's web site:, and put "rent reimbursement" in the search bar. Or contact Jan Corderman: or 515-264-9612.

What has he been up to?? New & Views asked Chapter 61 member Rollin Howell to fill us in on what he's been up to. We've seen Rollin everywhere lately, so it was time to get the lowdown directly from the horse's mouth! As a Five Term Legislator, Rollin was in the Iowa House when Collective BargainingRollin Howell was passed. When he ran for the house in 1972, collective bargaining for public employees was a campaign issue that most farmers were against. Rollin was an exception. He lived on the family farm his dad owned until 1977 and had watcge farmers win when they acted collectively. He campaigned hard, and won his election in spite of his support for collective bargaining. He went on to represented southwest Iowa for five for five consecutive terms. During thatRollin Howell time, the Family Farm Act passed with 95 votes in the house. With the Act, family farms were able to compete against corporate farms. They kept out the Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOS) that pollute the landscape now. Iowa's water ways were clean. After serving in the Iowa General Assembly, he went to work for the Department of Agriculture, and joined AFSCME. These days his hobbies include following non-fiction political writings and engaging in "political observations and commentary" (you'll find that avocation on his business cards) and "the search for truth in a land of political spin, news-twisting, pseudo-Science, Innuendo and outright Demagoguery". Contact Rollin:

Bulldog Report by President Mike Hansen.
Dear Sisters and Brothers, we must always remember that our number one goal is to act in coalition with the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFSCME International, ICAN, WILPF, ARA, Council 61, and a host of others because it is in the best interest of the public and the union movement.

In December a large delegation of us presented a MoveToAmend resolution to the Des Moines City Council. AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61, Raging Grannies, Alliance Of Retired Americans American Friends Service Committee, Des Moines Education Association, Move To Amend and others were present. There were four speakers. I was one of them. All the speeches complimented each other. The result was fantastic. The Council was alert and listening. They thanked us for our speeches. Mayor Cownie personally thanked us. The Mayor then said, "I want to especially thank Mike Hansen for his previous service on the Zoning Board." The Mayor then made a motion that the Move To Amend issue be forwarded to the Legal Department , and the Department is to report back before the Council decides whether or not Des Moines would be the 503rd political subdivision in to adopt the resolution asking Congress to start the Amendment process.

  In our last newsletter we informed you of our decision to ask the Courts to force Council 61 to turn over the monthly lists of retirees to us so that we could invite them to join our Chapter. Our attempts to resolve this issue or even have a dialogue with President Homan have always been rudely rejected by him. Please know that we have tried, time and again, to resolve this.  Our Chapter's executive Board thought long and hard before making the decision to go Court, but we saw no other option and filed suit late last year.
Council 61 responded to our lawsuit by asking the International to place us under Administrator ship. AFSCME's Judicial Panel Chairman conducted a hearing in Des Moines on January 12. I want to give a shout out to all of our Board members and friends who attended the hearing, even driving in from Mount Pleasant, West Burlington, and Waterloo.

Claudia Koon could not attend the hearing but sent us a statement that I think sums things up pretty well. She says: "The major issue is how Retiree Chapter 61 can gain access to the list of newly retired employees for the purpose of inviting them to join AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61. I've been a member of the Retiree's since the mid 1980's when Bill Howard was president and the State would not give us the lists. Finally the State agreed to release the list to C.61 President Jan Corderman. Pat Scott was President of C.61 Retirees at the time. With access to the list our Chapter began to grow, which continued until Jan Corderman retired and joined the Retiree's Chapter. Sometime after Dan Homan became President of Council 61, he quit sending us the lists, even though the International gave our group kudos on the growth of our membership. Our Chapter's Executive Board filed a complaint with the International, but there has been no solution to the problem."

As Claudia points out, Danny Homan has refused to deliver the monthly lists of retirees for some time. Not just when Pat was president, but also during the Presidency of Joellan Redenbaugh and during the last three years when I've been president. How can Homan, in good conscience, think the continuous withholding of the names of new retirees is in the best interest of the union movement?

Remember sisters and brothers, "To thy own self be true, and though can't be false to anyone."

Mike Hansen

Chapter 61 Members participated in a "Raise the Wage Rally" last Tuesday. Iowa's low-wage workers have gone without a raise longer than many in the country. Five out of 6 of our neighboring states have raised the minimum wage, leaving Iowa behind. Raising the minimum wage would boost the economy, increasing the demand for goods and services by putting more money in the pocket of Iowa's working families.
"I'm not asking for the moon. I'm just asking for a good deal for American workers." President Obama, calling for higher minimum wage.

Medicare says Iowans saved $12M on drugs as 'doughnut hole' starts to close. The Affordable Care Act has been narrowing the doughnut hold each year and giving drug discounts to participants while they are still in it. The hole gradually closes until it's completely closed by 2020. 

Obamacare is saving lives in more ways than one.
When we talk about the Affordable Care Act as a life-or-death issue for many Americans, we tend to focus on the issue of access: families without coverage too often go without treatments, leading to easily avoidable, life-threatening ailments.

But "Obamacare" was a massive undertaking precisely because it did far more than just expand access to insurance. The reform law also took deliberate steps
towards improving the health care system itself, and those measures appear to be saving thousands of lives, too. Wide-ranging efforts to make hospital care safer have resulted in an estimated 50,000 fewer patients dying because of avoidable errors in the past three years, according to a new report presented by government and industry officials.

Hospitals reported 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired infections in all between 2011-2013 compared to the rate of
mistakes that hospitals made in 2010. That represented a 17 percent drop in hospital errors. What explains these declines? The Department of Health and Human Services has pointed to a set of programs that are part of Obamacare: new financial penalties for hospitals that have particularly high rates of readmissions or harm to Medicare patients. Many of those programs began in 2010 and 2011, with the money at stake rising year after year.

Age, the Great Liberator. Part of what this means is that old people simply care less about that others think, but, also, our sense of what's important grows with age. We experience life more intensely than before, whatever our physical limitations, may be because we know it won't last forever. How to enable the growing numbers of old people to live comfortable, meaningful lives is a fundamental issue of equality, with benefits for all. If we make the world better for old people, we make it better for everyone, from stroller-pushers to wheelchair–users. Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the elder advocacy organization the Gray Panthers, argues that instead of making a fetish of independence, we should value the idea of interdependence between generations. Thus age-friendly cities, like Portland, Ore., rethink urban spaces to make them more accessible and encourage the integration of old people into communal life. And programs like Cleveland's intergenerational charter schools, which provide lifelong education alongside grades K-12, break down the age apartheid now so common. Instead of seeing each other as generic categories, old and young people can discover each other as individuals. Then we need only echo the wish of the British psychoanalyst DW Winnicott: "May I be alive when I die."

RetiredU.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez noted: "There is a direct link throughout American history between the strength of the middle class and the vitality of the labor movement. When unions are strong, working families thrive, with wages and productivity rising in tandem. But when the percentage of people represented by unions is low, there is downward pressure on wages and the middle class takes it on the chin."

AFSCME defied the odds last year and grew by nearly 132,000 members, thanks to the hard work of rank-and-file members who volunteered to talk with their fellow workers.

143,000 Iowans have Union membership (2013 Figures).

AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61 Officers: President – Mike Hansen, Des Moines, 515-253-2614(h) 515-778-6188(c); Vice President – Alan Fisher, Des Moines; Secretary – Linda Mitchell, West Burlington, 319-752-6052; Treasurer –Jan Corderman, Pleasant Hill 515-264-9612; VP1 – Bruce Forbes, Waterloo; VP2 – Paul Corbin, Lockridge 319-696-2760; VP3 – Allen Green, Des Moines 255-3260; VP4 – Dolores Betts, Ames 515-233-4190; VP5 – Rod Klein, Council Bluffs 712-420-5599; Trustees - Jan Murphy, Des Moines 515-238-3990, Judy Avritt, Des Moines 515-263-151, Linda Wright, Des Moines, 262-8217.