|N E W S and V I E W S
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61
PO Box 17281
Des Moines, IA 50317
|Contact us: email@example.com Visit us on the web: afscme61retirees.org|
Mark your Calendar!
Fun Day — Thursday, August 22
Annual Meeting — Tuesday, September 24
We hope you can join us for a meeting and lots of fun at Mike & Penny’s Cottage on Lake Ponderosa on Thursday, August 22. We’ll start the fun at noon, hold a short meeting, and have pot luck at about 3:30. We’ll provide the roast turkey—please bring a dish to share. Their address is 116 Valley Road. Take Interstate 80 to Exit 182 (Grinnell Exit). Turn South on HW146. Go around Searsboro on 146 to F57(Diamond Trail). Go east on F57 to Entrance 1 Lake Ponderosa. Turn north on entrance 1 and go north on Woodland. Follow Woodland Rd. You will pass a lumber yard. When you come to Valley Rd. turn east and go to 116 Valley Rd. It is a yellow and brown cottage.
We’ll hold our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 24, at the Machine Shed, 11151 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA 50322 (exit #125 off I35/80, in front of Living History ; ph: 515-270-6818;). Registration starts at 9:30am and the meeting will open at 10:00am. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, former House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Iowa Alliance for Retired American President Jan Laue, IPERS Senior Benefit Officer Jan Hawkins, MoveToAmend President Deb Holley, and Iowa Citizen Action Network Executive Director Sue Dinsdale are featured speakers. John Bonnage from our International Union will be on hand and we’re also hoping that the new AFSCME Retiree Department Director, Ann Widger will be able to join us.
We need your rsvp and choice for lunch in order to make the final arrangements (contact Mike Hansen firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-282-5245). Choose either Meatloaf (French bread under grilled onions, really good meatloaf, mashed potatoes and pan roasted gravy), Stuffed Pork Loin (stuffed with the Shed’s country sage dressing, sliced and served with pan gravy), or the Vegetarian Option.
Our election of officers will be held too. Our President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and five District Vice Presidents will be elected for a one-year term. One Trustee will be elected for a three-year term. There is a one-year membership criterion to be eligible to run for office.
There will be a silent auction at the Convention to help our Chapter raise money, with lots of nice items, thanks to contributions from our Executive Board & Friends. Please bring your pocketbook!
|March 5 was the date for our western Iowa meeting in Council Bluffs. An Alliance for Retired Americans Rep updated us on issues affecting seniors.
Our Eastern Iowa meeting was on May 21 in Burlington. Chapter President Mike Hansen poses with State Senator Tom Courtney and Local 3019 and 828 Presidents Diane Harris and Sherri Riney.
Bulldog Report, By President Mike Hansen
Will I see you at our summer fun day and our annual meeting? I sure hope so! If you can’t make it to one or both, please accept my best wishes for a grand ending to what I hope has been an already great summer!
Our Chapter has been blessed by the support of our members and activists. That participation, whether in person or in spirit, has helped us keep our focus on our mission; i.e. to act in the best interest of the public and the union movement by acting in coalition with other organizations that share those values. I am happy to report we are meeting our primary goals.
Here are a couple of high points since our last annual meeting. On April 15, we participated in a Tax Day Protest. We aligned with the ARA, ICAN, Move To Amend, South Central Iowa Federation Of Labor, Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement, Ragging Grannies, Iowa Public Research Group, WILPF, Des Moines Education Association, Progress Iowa and a host of others. I was the moderator. Because there was a good possibility that the management at the Iowa Economic Development Authority, at whose office we staged our protest, would not like us telling the truth about their unconscionable conduct, I followed our standard procedure and faxed a letter to the Polk County Attorney John Sarcone and Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw. I let them know that we would follow our standard procedure of no profanity, littering, or blocking the sidewalk and also advised them that we had applied for the required sound permit for our bull horn. Chapter Treasurer Jan Corderman and WILPF activist Sherry Hutchison delivered our Demand letter before we began our protest. The letter informed them that our coalition objected to their awarding millions of our tax dollars to corporations that are making millions of dollars in profits and pay not even one dime in Iowa income taxes. We also let the public know that some large corporations located in Iowa also pay no Federal Income tax. A few of the examples are Bank of America, Monsanto, John Deere, and DuPont. Foreign corporations are also receiving our tax dollars. One outrageous example is Principal Finance. Principal received $22.5 million dollars of tax credits from our state government to remodel their offices and their sidewalk. Principal makes millions of dollars in profits each year. Economic Developments tax give away created very few new jobs. In the case of Principle, we doubt it created any new jobs. Our Demonstration started with the Raging Grannies followed by our speakers using the bull horn. Cars were honking support. One driver stopped her car and was cheering out the passenger window.
The Economic Development office & the Building Manager called the Police. When the police officer arrived I identified myself and gave the officer a copy of the letter I had faxed to the County Attorney and the Chief of Police. The police officer showed the letter to Economic Development and the Manager. They read it and the Police officer called for assistance. A sergeant arrived and I showed him the fax. The Sgt. conferred with the officer, the building manager and Economic Development. The Sgt. Inquired if we had a bull horn permit. We supplied our permit. The Sgt. Requested we move our podium a foot off the driveway. We complied and continued our informational picket. The truth was presented to the public. In the end the truth will win. But every member, brother and sister needs to participate because we are in a fight to preserve collective bargaining and the middle class.
We also acted in coalition with other organizations who share our values to prevent the passage of the bill to lower the monthly Social Security benefit that retirees receive by reducing the annual cost of living allowance by using a lower Consumer Price Index called the “Chained CPI. We can’t accept a lower Social Security benefit. To do so would be detrimental to the middle class. A coalition consisting of ICAN, ARA, Move to Amend, South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61, AFSCME Council 61, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, AFSCME International, Ragging Grannies, WILPF, and a host of other labor organizations participated in making the protest on July 2 a success. To call attention to Senator Grassley and President Obama’s support of the Chained CIP, we staged our protest at the Federal Building in Des Moines. We chanted “Some Cuts Never Heal”. Cars were honking in support. The proponents for lowering CPI state that it will not hurt retirees and the middle class because they can substitute cheaper food. This is false. One out of five children in Iowa does not get enough to eat. How are you going to find cheaper food, oil, gas, electricity, rent, and medicine? The answer is you can’t. Furthermore, Social Security is not part of the budget. All they have to do is raise the ceiling and have the rich pay their fair share. By raising the ceiling the rich will get a higher retiree pension. They won’t like it because they can make more money by shipping their money overseas for investment, and will receive more income that is tax exempt.
We had a chance to support Senator Harkin, who has a bill in opposition to lowering Social Security Benefits at a town hall that was recently. Several members of Chapter 61 were on hand, and my comments were part of the 6:00 news. Please call your Congress and tell your Senator and Representative and President Obama and tell them to support Harkin’s bill.
We are continuing to build our E-NEWS program to keep you informed and invite you to important events. Please contact me if you are not on our list and would like to be added. We also have a web Site to aid us in communication. You’ll find both addresses on our masthead.
We must all work together. The one item we must strengthen is organizing by obtaining the lists of retirees forwarded under an agreement by the State of Iowa and Council 61. Jan Corderman made the agreement when she was Council President. It was agreed and understood that the list of state of Iowa AFSCME retirees with addresses would be delivered to Council 61 monthly, and Council 61 would forward them to our Chapter so we could recruit members, and it worked very well. If we had received the lists of retirees, we estimate that we would have around one thousand members.
Please let us know if you know someone who would like to join our Chapter. The more members we have, the better we can meet our goal of acting in coalition with organizations that support the union interest and the interest of the public.
Senators Tom Harkin from Iowa and Mark Begich from Alaska have proposed plans to increase benefits while also ensuring the increased benefits can be paid fully for decades to come. And we should support them.
If you’re tired of constantly playing defense and want to change the narrative to be about how we can improve Social Security by making it fairer and more generous, then be part of the groundswell of voices supporting the Harkin and Begich bills.
While Sen. Begich’s and Sen. Harkin’s plans differ somewhat, both would make the annual Social Security cost-of-living increases larger to more accurately reflect the increased inflation faced by seniors compared to the general public. This is the opposite of the shady attempts to cut benefits by using the so-called “chained CPI,” which is an even less accurate (and stingier) way to measure the inflation faced by seniors.
In addition, Sen. Harkin’s plan would increase benefits for virtually everyone by almost $800 a year.
Furthermore, both plans pay for the benefit increases while improving the long-term solvency of the program by lifting the cap on the payroll tax that funds Social Security.
Right now Social Security is funded by a payroll tax that is capped at a yearly income of $113,700. In other words, billionaires like the Koch brothers pay the same amount in Social Security tax as someone who makes $113,700 a year.
Scrapping the cap is a simple and fair way to strengthen the program.
The proposed chained CPI cut will eat into Americans' benefits. Were the chained CPI benefit cut in effect during the last 20 years, today’s 85-year old senior, who currently receives a $15,000 benefit, would receive less than $14,000 instead. And an average earner retiring at age 65 today would lose more than $6,000 over 15 years if the chained CPI cut were adopted.
These cuts are not fair and would do real damage to seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and others—present and future. And a chained CPI benefit cut would be especially harmful to women, because on average they live longer than men, rely more on income from Social Security, and are already more likely to be poor.
Don't let them get away with these cuts to the benefits we've paid into our entire lives. Millions of Americans out there agree—and it’s time to show our elected leaders the overwhelming number of people who oppose the chained CPI benefit cut. Take action now!
New York Times Editorial Board Comes out against Social Security Cuts
In a strongly worded editorial, The New York Times Editorial Board condemned the chained CPI and other proposed cuts to Social Security. The editorial states that the majority of people over 65 get two-thirds or more of their income from Social Security. It also points out that benefits are already being reduced due to the rise in Medicare Part B premiums and the gradual increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67. For these reasons, the editorial board argues that no further across the board cuts to Social Security, including the chained CPI, should be implemented.
We the People, Not We the Corporations
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that
|money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.
We believe corporations are not persons and possess only the privileges citizens and their elected representatives willfully grant them. Our Amendment will reverse the Court’s invention of "corporate personhood" and limit corporations to their proper role: doing business.
Deb Holley, Move to Amend President, will be on hand to fill us in more at our annual meeting.
Once again, the facts speak for themselves: Unions are the first and last line of defense for America's workers.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, growth in union workers' average hourly pay and total benefits far outpaced those of non-union members in the first quarter of 2013. In fact, wages and salaries of union-represented workers grew 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013, while those of non-union employees rose 0.8 percent. Yet again, we have proof that there is economic power in an organized workforce.
Keeping health care reform healthy, patients informed The American Nurses Association
ANA has advocated for decades to secure meaningful health care reform. Passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a comprehensive law that aims to protect consumers, increase access to care, promote health, improve and refocus the health care delivery system, and control costs.
Even prior to full implementation, it has been reported that the law has provided 54 million Americans free access to preventive services like check-ups and mammograms. More than six million seniors have saved more than six billion dollars on their prescriptions. Nearly 13 million consumers have received more than one billion dollars in rebates from insurance companies that had overcharged them. There are more than three million happy young adults who have been allowed to stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26.
Ten good things about the law include:
- Goodbye doughnut hole. Medicare drug plans (Part D of Medicare) stop providing insurance to people after their claims for covered drugs hit a certain level ($2,970 in 2013), and coverage doesn't resume until spending hits another level ($4,750 in 2013). Health care reform is closing this doughnut hole in annual stages, and it will be totally closed by 2020. Savings to Medicare beneficiaries will be in the tens of billions of dollars.
- Free Medicare preventive services. Health care reform greatly expanded the menu of free preventive services to Medicare consumers.
- Free preventive services to all women. Health insurance plans have added eight women's health benefits because of the law, in areas including breastfeeding, contraception, domestic violence, gestational diabetes, HIV screening and counseling, sexual diseases and wellness visits.
- Pre-existing conditions. Beginning in 2014, no one can be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition.
- Premium equity. Insurers can't gouge people with pre-existing conditions by forcing them to pay unreasonably high premiums. The law also limits insurers' ability to impose age-related premium increases for private coverage.
- End of pre-existing restrictions on children's access to health insurance. The law has ended insurance denials based on pre-existing conditions for the 20 million children under age 19.
- Adult dependent insurance coverage. Adult children up to age 26 can now continue to get health insurance on their parent's policies.
- Insurance payout limits. The law will end lifetime limits on insurance payouts. It also has been phasing out annual coverage limits, which will be completely outlawed for plans next year.
- Minimum medical ratio for insurers. Health insurers must spend at least 85 percent of their premium dollars on health care (80 percent for group plans) or rebate shortfalls to consumers.
- New consumer health coverage reports. Consumers have begun receiving a standardized report explaining their health insurance. For the first time, different health insurance plans have to present their coverage details in the same format, using the same language. Consumers can now accurately compare different health insurance plans.
Please Encourage uninsured or underinsured individuals to visit the Health Insurance Marketplace to shop for the best insurance coverage specific to their needs and enroll in a health plan. Information about the Health Care Law ACA provisions & state specific information is available at www.healthcare.gov and http://marketplace.cms.gov/
Overheard at the Iowa State Fair:
"If you don't like bacon, you’re wrong!"
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 – June Elston, Woodward 515-669-4476; 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 515-263-1514, Don Reeves 515-266-5797.