|N E W S and V I E W S
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61
PO Box 17281
Des Moines, IA 50317
|Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit us on the web: www.afscme61retirees.org|
Mark your Calendar!
Our Eastern Iowa Meeting will be on Tuesday, May 13, @ Big Muddy’s, 710 North Front Street, in Burlington, starting at 10:30am.
Watch for our next newsletter for the dates for our Summer Fun Day and Annual Convention.
The Bulldog Report by President Mike Hansen
AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61 was out in force at Senator Harkin’s Town meeting to support his bill to protect Social Security. Midge Slater of the Alliance for Retired Americans said, “I love AFSCME retirees!” when she saw us arrive. Senator Harkin stated that all that is needed is to raise the earnings cap which was $113,700 in 2013. When the Senator called on me I said that the rich don’t want the cap on earnings raised because they don’t want to pay any more taxes! They know they can make more money if they ship their money overseas and pay less in taxes! The town meeting was covered by the press. It was fun to see us on TV that night!!
AFSCME Retiree Chapter has gathered more Move To Amend petitions than any other organization in the state of Iowa. The IA Legislature is introducing a Resolution this session which will ask Congress to overrule Citizens United. We support the National Campaign to end Corporate Personhood and Demand Real Democracy. MoveToAmend.org is committed “to a vibrant American democracy and to our battle against corporate rule”. AFSCME Retirees were at the Capitol on Feb. 6 to push our Legislators to sign the resolutions.
I also want to let you know about some of the new evidence we have gathered and actions we have taken to reinstate the agreement between Council 61 and the State of Iowa that they send a list of the names and addresses of newly retired AFSCME bargaining unit employees to the Council each month; then the Council would forward the list to us to use for recruiting purposes. But before I clue you in on some of the new evidence, I have a question to for you. Do you believe the Council’s actions in refusing to help us build our Chapter, even in such a minor way as refusing to give new retirees our contact information, is beneficial to the Union as a whole? The answer is a resounding “NO”!
We have the sworn testimony of retirees that AFSCME Council staff and Council President Homan have refused to inform them about how to join our Chapter. This evidence is corroborated by Danny Homan’s refusal to place contact information for our Chapter on the Council’s web page. They make it very difficult for new retirees to join Chapter 61.
We have appealed to the International’s Judicial Panel for their involvement in resolving these issues. Without taking any evidence or testimony, they have decreed that Danny Homan has not prevented any retirees from joining our Chapter. Apparently they believe its “ok” for him to stand in the way of our efforts to build our Chapter!
Throughout all of this, our members have responded by staying strong.
A big “Thank you” to all for your support of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 61!
In Solidarity, Mike
Slowing the Growth in Health Care Costs will help add more jobs.
A message from Jack Hatch
The most important thing to know about me is I’m consistent when it comes to my support of public employees. Experience matters, and through my 22 year career in the legislature, I’ve been a friend whether times were good or times were difficult for those who serve Iowans in the public sector. I’ve been a good friend and good partner with AFSCME for more than two decades. As Governor I would continue that partnership.
Maybe the most important fight we fought together was the one to allow state funded child care workers to organize for a decent wage. That bill came through my subcommittee, I met with many members of AFSCME and many child care workers who wanted to make it a reality. I am very proud to say we created a whole group of AFSCME workers on my watch, and I am not about to back down on that
The single most important thing to understand about my campaign is that I will take the fight to Terry Branstad and I will hold him accountable every single day of this campaign without fail. I know how to frame the issue, I know how to draw the attention of the media, and I am not afraid to throw punch after punch.
That’s not unusual for me – my whole career has been about fighting for the little guy against the big guys. I have won over and over whether the issue was clean water, better education, health care reform or a fair tax system.
If you want a candidate for Governor who’s serious about focusing Iowans on the failed leadership of Terry Branstad, I’m your candidate. If you want a candidate for Governor who has the experience of fighting Terry Branstad and winning over and over, I’m your candidate. And if you want a candidate for Governor who will give you specific, thorough, honest and straight answers, I am that candidate.
September Convention A Great Success
The News and Views congratulates our Officers: Mike Hansen, President; Alan Fisher, Vice President, June Elston, Secretary; Jan Corderman, Treasurer; District Vice Presidents Paul Corbin, Allen Green, De Betts, Rod Klein, and Bruce Forbes. Our Trustees, who serve a staggered three year term are: Judy Avritt, Jan Murphy and Don Reeves.
From Ann’s Desk (Ann Widger is the International Union’s Retiree Department Director)
Let’s start with Detroit. Detroit is the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy and AFSCME has gone to court to fight it. The cost of city pensions and retiree health benefits is a main focus of the court and our members’ benefits are at serious risk. It seems like Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder – who pushed Detroit into bankruptcy in the first place -- wants to solve the city’s problems on the backs of its workers and retirees.
And then there’s Illinois, where the state imposed cuts on the state retirement systems last year. And where city of Chicago workers are also protesting potential cuts to their earned pensions. One hears the terms “unfunded” frequently in terms of retirement systems, but the fact remains: the workers dutifully paid their contributions into the retirement funds, while the employers and politicians found other uses for the money that should have been banked away.
It’s our job to change the conversation. We need to focus on the larger and broader issues of financial security, retirement resources, and availability of health care, and not allow them to dominate the discussion by harping on the supposed outrageous benefits enjoyed by public employees that are not enjoyed by other workers.
We need to ask: why doesn’t every American have access to a decent pension plan in addition to Social Security?
It’s clear that we have our work cut out for us. It seems that a quiet retirement is not in the cards and that we retirees are going to have to go back-to-work to monitor and defeat plots to steal hard-earned benefits.
I look forward to working with all of you!
Ann (edited due to space concerns)
53% of Iowans support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and only 36% oppose. Raising the minimum wage will directly benefit 216,000 hardworking Iowans. No one working full time should be forced to live in poverty.
Since 1988 Congress has raised its own salary 15 times to “reflect rising costs”. But raised the minimum wage only three times!
Many States and Local Governments have taken up the minimum wage fight. In December, workers at large hotels and car services outside the SeaTac International Airport, just south of Seattle, became eligible for a wage increase to $15 an hour after a groundbreaking ballot initiative to significantly raise the minimum wage passed last November. Thirteen states raised their minimum wage on January 1, 2014. Congratulations to: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
SOCIAL SECURITY WORKS!
Income drops dramatically after age 65. Median household income for 2012 in Iowa for those ages 45-64 is $61,484. For those ages 65+, it’s $34,731.
Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our country’s history and has never contributed a single penny to the deficit. Let’s strengthen, not cut Social Security!
S.567, introduced by Senator Harkin, would Increase cost of living adjustments (COLAs), not decrease them using a benefit formula designed specifically to take into account seniors’ rising living expenses such as healthcare, food, and housing. His bill would also insure that the wealthy are paying their fair share into Social Security. In 2014, American will only pay Social Security payroll taxes on their first $117,000. That means that Wall Street CEOs could pay a far lower share of their earnings than most. By lifting the payroll tax cap on Social Security, we can extend the life of Social Security for at least the next 75 years.
75% of Americans opposed cuts to SNAP/Food Stamps. 83% of Americans oppose cuts to K-12 Education. 88% of Americans want to preserve Social Security & Medicare. Yet all those programs face budget cuts. How can we end poverty if we don’t support struggling families?
Please join us in calling on the U.S. Senate to support S.567! Let’s make 2014 the year we turned the tide in the battle for Social Security benefits. (Social Security Works! is a coalition of many groups including AFSCME)
Standard premiums for Medicare Part B -- which covers doctors’ services and outpatient care -- remains at $104.90 a month in this year, the same as 2013. People who pay surcharges because they have higher incomes will also see their rates stay flat, and the annual Part B deductible will stay unchanged at $147. The news from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finally disproves a mass email that has circulated since 2010, claiming that under the Affordable care act the Part B premium would reach $247 a month by 2014. Official say that the actual premium -- always calculated as 25 percent of the program’s costs in the previous year -- has been held flat because Medicare costs have slowed, in part due to provisions of the new law.
Labor Songs by Pete Seeger. Seeger, who died on January 27 at the age of 94, was the grand old man of labor and folk music. His career dated back more than half a century, to his time in the Almanac Singers and the Weavers, when he sang alongside Woody Guthrie and other greats. Branded a Communist in the 1950s for his political views, support of unions and civil rights work, and blacklisted by major recording labels, he hung in there and carried on the good fight for what he thought right. He probably put in more miles on labor picket lines than anyone can count.
Go to youtube.com to watch and listen to Pete singing Solidarity Forever, The Union Maid, Which Side Are You On, and more.
It’s time to renew your membership. If you received a renewal statement with this newsletter, it’s because it’s time to renew!! (Those of you who have already paid for 2014, or who were members of an AFSCME Local that pays the dues for their retirees did not receive a statement.) Dues are $15 per year, which also gains you membership in the Alliance For Retired Americans (www.retiredamericans.org), a Nationwide organization of more than 3 million members focusing on issues affecting seniors. Chapter members are also part of the AFSCMEAdvantage program (find it on line at AFSCME.org). For mobile updates from the International Union: Text JOIN to 237263. You will receive approximately 5 messages each month. Text STOP to quit or HELP for more info.
Will you help us recruit in new members? Email Mike (his address is on the header) for membership cards or to ask for our help in organizing in your area. Can you add a donation to your dues? Some members have added $.50 to their dues to defray the cost of ARA membership. For other ways to help, we’ll be holding a garage sale at Jan’s house this spring. Let us know if you have a donation. Our silent auction was a big success in September and we’ll do it again at our 2014 annual meeting. We raised $630 last year!! Your donation will make next year even better. We sincerely appreciate everything you do!