Category Archives: Newsroom

Southern Piedmont Retiree Club Meeting, February 18th at 11AM

You are invited to come out and meet Charlotte’s new Mayor, The Honorable Jennifer Roberts!  Please come out & meet the Mayor & enjoy our Southern Piedmont Retiree Club Quarterly Meeting………

LOCATION: 1900 CROSS BEAM DRIVE AT IBEW 379 HALL. CHARLOTTE, NC 28217 TIME IS 11:00 AM TO 12:30 PM

REFRESHMENTS WILL BE PROVIDED

PRESIDENT SHIRLEY JACKSON OF THE
SOUTHERN PIEDMONT RETIRE CLUB &
AFSCME VICE PRESIDENT WESTERN REGION CHAPTER 165.

Southern Piedmont Retiree Meeting

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

TO:               Southern Piedmont Retiree Club Members & Guests

FROM:          Bill Dworkin, President of the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans & Shirley Jackson, President of the Southern Piedmont Retiree Club

SUBJECT:      Invitation to meeting of the Southern Piedmont Retiree Club

DATE:           February 18, 2016

Dear Friend,

The Southern Piedmont Retiree Club would like to invite you to attend their February 18th meeting. The meeting is scheduled for February 18, 2016 starting at 11am. The meeting will be held at the IBEW Local 379, 1900 Cross Beam Drive, Charlotte, NC 28217.

A long-term goal of the Southern Piedmont Retiree Club is to become the voice for all retirees by engaging in important battles to protect and preserve programs vital to the health and economic security of older Americans. There is no cost to attend the meeting and refreshments will be available. Please come to the meeting with ideas of how to grow the Club in 2016, speakers of interest to you and any trips that you would be interested in. Please R.S.V.P. to Heather McLaughlin (heathermclaughlin43@gmail.com), 919-522-8996, as soon as possible.

Also, please feel free to bring any one else that is interested in protecting the economic security of themselves and their future generations. Guests can be union or non-union.

Sincerely,

Bill Dworkin, President

North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans

Shirley Jackson, President

Southern Piedmont Retiree Club

 

President

September 2015 Newsletter

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

Summer is upon us and the board and I wish each of you the best for vacation and those precious times with family. We have been busy. We visited affiliates this spring and made 8 lobby visits to our political representatives. Our convention was an interesting opportunity to hear from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who told us of his vision for the future of North Carolina as well as his view of our state’s current situation. MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the NC AFL-CIO, spoke of the importance of showing up and organizing as well as the harm the General Assembly and the governor have done to seniors and retirees.

Our efforts to become financially independent have been moderately successful. Our spring efforts, which include the golf outing and a major raffle, raised close to $5,000.

In order to become a more effective advocate for seniors and retirees, we must enhance our financial footing.  My fellow officers and I, as well as the board, recognize how important this is and are working on ways to get it done.

I’m optimistic about the future of NCARA and I thank the entire membership for your support and confidence in reelecting me and treasurer Judy Coggins and Secretary Mary Montford.

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“FastTrack” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

“Fast Track” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an international trade deal involving negotiations among twelve nations

–the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore,

And Vietnam. The US administration wants “Fast Track “authority, which means that the Executive Branch can

Negotiate, out of the public eye, trade agreements which will be sent to Congress, which may vote only “yea” or “nay, “with no amendments or debate allowed! This is a dangerous proposition, to have no public comment on a deal that will affect millions of American workers and no Congressional hearings or debate on an issue of this magnitude.

When did the idea of a TPP actually begin, and how have other trade deals worked for the United States?  A proposed agreement began in 2005 as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP), but such contentious issues as agriculture, intellectual property, and debates concerning services and investments have caused the agreement to stall for ten years. Now with the possibility of fast tracking, labor organizations and other worker-related groups are pointing to what has happened in the past with international trade deals that were supposed to be for the benefit of the U.S. but did not live up to the hype.  Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been one of the major voices opposed to the TPP, citing previous deals that have resulted in the loss of millions of American jobs.  For example, she notes that NAFTA, CAFTA, KFTA (Korea Free Trade Agreement), and other trade pacts have been responsible not only for the loss of about six million jobs in the U.S.–among them 3.2 million alone lost due to trade with China, 60,000 lost to Korea, and 70,000 lost to Mexico–but that supporters of past agreements have said that the deals promised strong protections for workers; however, despite the promises, “these trade deals were just another tool to tilt the playing field in favor of multinational corporations and against working families.”

She said in an interview, “This deal would give protections to international corporations that are not available to United States environmental and labor groups.  Multinational corporations are increasingly realizing this is an opportunity to gut U.S. regulations they don’t like. They could make more money if they could beat down

Those regulations,” a reference to the part of the TPP agreement called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement process, which allows corporations to sue national governments in international forums to win settlements which cannot be appealed to a higher authority.

We as advocates of decent wages and working conditions for all workers, no matter where they live, cannot support a policy that does not strengthen labor and human rights, does not protect the U.S. from unsafe imports, and is not negotiated publicly. We realize that we must create good, solid markets and foster clean, safe working conditions in all places affected by a trade agreement, and we want future trade deals to create this standard for international trade which will prioritize raising wages and shared prosperity and put human

Beings before corporate profits. We are ready to stand with the President in negotiating not necessarily “free trade” but, more importantly, “fair trade” in the global economy.  We must not make the same mistakes we made in the past, which did not benefit the American worker but rather benefitted the corporate giants of the world.

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Expand state’s Medicaid, group in Greensboro implores McCroryA service is needed to view this article.

NCARA President, Bill Dworkin, spoke at the July 16th Medicaid Expansion Press Conference in GREENSBORO.  The gathering of 100 people at the Beloved Community Center was 1 of 6 events held from Greenville to Asheville calling on Governor McCrory to deliver a Medicaid Expansion plan.

According to NC Child reports that 27% of North Carolinians expect to benefit if the state expands Medicaid eligibility for families with children at home.  Dworkin states that “over 500,000 North Carolinians will benefit from Medicaid Expansion.”

Alliance Members Get the Chance to Ask President Obama Questions

Alliance Members Get the Chance to Ask President Obama Questions
At a special event on Tuesday, June 8, Alliance members are invited to ask the President health care questions by telephone.  A few members of the Alliance will be attending the event – which will include information on benefits for seniors under the new health care law – live, in Wheaton, Maryland. Other members are invited to ask the President questions by phone.  The special number Alliance members can call to talk to President Obama is: 800-837-1935, Passcode 80272058.  This one-time, national “tele-town hall” can also be seen and heard on television by watching C-SPAN, or on-line at http://www.healthreform.gov/.  If you live in one of the following communities and would like to join a local watch party, please contact us at ARAORGANIZING@retiredamericans.org:  Dubuque, Des Moines, and Waterloo, Iowa; Suitland and White Plains, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; Nashua and Manchester, New Hampshire; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Raleigh, North Carolina; Ashtabula, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Columbia, South Carolina.  In addition, several of our allied unions are taking leadership roles and sponsoring events, including one in Las Vegas sponsored by the International Union of Painters and Allied trades.  The AFT event in upstate New York is not happening.  The live events are scheduled to begin at 11:15 AM Eastern Time on Tuesday and will last about an hour.  The President will also be joined by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius. Topics to be covered will include the $250 checks for seniors caught in the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” coverage gap, and efforts to combat scams associated with those checks.

HHS Buys Time for Senate to Address the “Doc Fix”
While the U.S. House of Representatives managed to pass a bill that delayed the scheduled Medicare reimbursement cuts to physicians, the Senate did not pass a similar bill.  This allowed the 21 percent cuts to go into effect on June 1st, leaving lawmakers to scramble for solutions.  Fortunately, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that it will be holding all payments to doctors for the next two weeks in order to buy Congress a little more time to pass a bill.  The Senate, however, is not scheduled to deal with the ‘Doc Fix’ until June 7th at the earliest, causing many to call on congressional leadership to reprioritize their agenda in order to pass this critical measure as soon as possible.  “The ‘Doc Fix’ provision must pass the Senate in a timely and efficient manner, as the quality of care that Medicare beneficiaries receive is currently in jeopardy,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  For detailed tallies of the House’s votes to approve the “doc fix” and unemployment benefits last Friday, go to http://bit.ly/bUmAtq and http://bit.ly/bcUg2A.  The original bill was supposed to extend COBRA benefits and Federal Medicaid assistance to the states as well, but those provisions were not included in the House votes.  AFSCME has offered use of its hotline (888) 340-6521 for calls to the Senate regarding these issues.  Callers using this line are prompted with a message to urge senators to “avoid cuts to Medicaid and jobs” to help the economy.  By entering your zip code, you are then connected to your senators’ offices.

Alliance Members in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Hear from the President, Sebelius
On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  Firing back at his critics, President Obama stated that his economic policy “prevented a global depression” and helped out ailing middle class families.  Alliance members Maxine Yancey, Marie Malagreca, Ed Pace, Teresa Findlay, Marge Lindquist, and Carol Coultas were all in attendance for this primetime speech.  Alliance members also joined Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Ron Kind (WI), Governor Jim Doyle (WI), and Rep. Tim Walz (MN) at a health care forum for seniors yesterday in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  “Secretary Sebelius warned seniors that Medicare fraud is imminent, stating that the best protection is to double check with an authoritative figure before giving away any personal information,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

New on the Alliance Website
The most recent fact sheets and scam alerts are posted on the Alliance web site.  A doughnut hole update at http://bit.ly/dyAOhv explains that scammers offering to “help” seniors get their $250 rebate are up to no good, as it comes automatically (beginning June 10th). Other new fact sheets – regarding the new health law, a long-term care brief and advice on what to tell health reform skeptics, are available for download here: http://bit.ly/9gv2DN.  For a report on the second fiscal commission meeting last Wednesday, click on http://bit.ly/aW31zR. Finally, daily news clips regarding retiree issues can also be found under “Must-Reads” on the main page.

Alliance Member Inducted into Senior Citizens Hall of Fame
Congratulations to Bob Haase, a member of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, on being inducted into the Milwaukee County Seniors Citizen Hall of Fame.  As a member of the Alliance, Haase has led lobbying efforts to improve Social Security and Medicare, increase County funding for senior programs, and help make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.  Haase was honored at a community-wide ceremony held last Friday in Milwaukee.

Alliance Friend Rue McClanahan Dies
Actress Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche on “The Golden Girls” television series and starred on Broadway, passed away from a stroke on Thursday at the age of 76.  Ms. McClanahan lent her voice to the Alliance for Retired Americans in 2004 for automated telephone calls to members in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, encouraging them to return their vote by mail applications, and also did other work with the Alliance in 2006.  Rest in Peace, Rue!

Did You Know…
Eleven states will be holding primaries this Tuesday, June 8: Arkansas, including a Democratic Senate run-off; California; Iowa; Maine; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; North Dakota; South Carolina; South Dakota; and Virginia.

New Health Reform Law Extends Election Period to Change Part D Plan


The new health reform law changes and extends the annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans.  Anyone interested in switching plans should keep in mind the new enrollment period is now October 15 – December 7.

Note that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides for a Special Enrollment Period for contract violation if a prescription drug plan (PDP) violated a provision of its contract under Part D in relation to the individual.  Violations include: failure to provide on a timely basis benefits available under the plan; failure to provide benefits in accordance with quality standards; or the PDP sponsor (or its agent) materially misrepresenting the PDP when marketing the PDP.  The enrollment period begins when CMS determines that a violation has occurred.

For other details on the new health reform bill, what it does, especially for seniors, and when provisions go into place, check out fact sheet here: http://bit.ly/ccGLay.

2010 Campaigns Heating Up: Retirees Must Know the Facts
Political developments in three states this week were a reminder of how retirees – expected to be the largest voting bloc this fall – must be well versed on the issues and where the candidates stand. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling traveled to Arkansas to endorse Lt. Gov. Bill Halter for the U.S. Senate and rebut television ads that falsely claim he supports Social Security privatization.  Noting that Halter ran the Social Security Administration under President Clinton and has consistently worked to help retirees, Easterling said, “Bill Halter is a great friend of Social Security and Medicare.  He is a great friend to seniors.”  Write-up here: http://bit.ly/bA0D7P.

In the first U.S. House election since health reform was signed into law, voters in a heavily-senior Florida congressional district elected Democrat Ted Deutch by a 2-1 margin over his Republican opponent to fill a vacant seat.  In Missouri, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, criticized a provision in the new health law that prohibits adults from being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.  Video here: http://bit.ly/ce5t5S.   In May, both Pennsylvania and Hawaii will be holding closely contested special elections to fill vacant U.S. House seats.  “More than ever, we must be a nation of politically savvy seniors,” Easterling commented.

CEO Pay at the Big Health Insurance Companies: Enough to Make You Sick
According to new data from the AFL-CIO

Health Care Reform: What’s in it for Seniors

The Senate-passed health care reform bill dramatically cleared the House on a 219-212 vote Sunday night, and President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.  Please see the Alliance’s Special Edition Friday Alert of March 23 at http://bit.ly/dttZ01 for more details of the related votes.  The reform phases out the doughnut hole gap in prescription drug coverage, providing a $250 rebate in 2010 for seniors who fall into the hole.  Beginning in 2011, seniors will receive a 50% percent discount on their prescription drugs when they fall into the doughnut hole, and by 2020 the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated.  To see the Alliance’s one-page write-up listing provisions in the health reform law that will affect seniors, along with the time line for their implementation, go to http://bit.ly/9mja6j.  To summarize that document, the new law also:

  • Covers preventive services; in 2011, seniors in Medicare will receive free annual check-ups with no co-payments for mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventive screenings;
  • Supports early retiree coverage, providing financial assistance to employer health plans that cover early retirees;
  • Encourages doctors to coordinate care and improve quality, creating incentives for providers to work together and reduce wasteful care like repeated tests;
  • Removes obstacles to changing Part D prescription drug plans, allowing Part D enrollees to make a mid-year change in their enrollment if their plan makes an unexpected change;
  • Expands the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, which will significantly help struggling seniors afford their health care costs;
  • Enacts the CLASS Act, creating a new, voluntary long term care insurance plan;
  • Enacts the Elder Justice Act, authorizing new criminal background checks on long-term care workers who have access to residents or patients; and
  • Eliminates wasteful overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans while creating incentives for coordinated, high quality care across the health care spectrum, extending the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 9 years and improving Medicare for generations to come.

For a listing of which changes take effect immediately, go to http://bit.ly/ag60lc.  In short – in addition to the doughnut hole changes – within the next six months alone, the new law:

  • Provides a $5 billion reinsurance fund to help employers who provide health benefits to early retirees ages 55 to 64 (goes into effect in 90 days);
  • Eliminates pre-existing conditions for non-dependent children up to age 26;
  • Prohibits insurers from placing lifetime limits on coverage;
  • Restricts new plans’ annual limits on coverage;
  • Provides $5 billion to states to create a high risk insurance pool for those denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions and who have been without insurance for 6 months;
  • Prohibits rescission, or dropping coverage, when individuals become sick;
  • Creates a public health and wellness fund and requires new private insurance plans to offer preventive services without co-payments;
  • Provides up to 35 % tax credits to small business that offer health care coverage; and
  • Creates a new and independent health insurance appeals process for consumers

A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 49% of those polled concluded that the passage was “a good thing,” as compared to 40% who concluded its passage was “a bad thing.”  Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, urged seniors to thank Members of Congress who helped to pass reform with personal visits to their offices during the spring district work period, March 29 – April 9.  “Thank you again to seniors who worked for decades to pass health reform.  Now, let’s give House Members who voted courageously for health care reform in the face of violence some words of appreciation, in person or in writing,” said Mr. Coyle.  To see the video of Alliance member Bob Meeks of Brandon, FL and Mr. Coyle on the importance of closing the Medicare drug doughnut hole, go to http://bit.ly/a3SPUz.

Misinformation has been spread on how the health care reform will affect veterans’ care.  The health care bill provides protections for veterans and the health care they have earned through their service.  President Obama has strongly supported a 16% budget increase in 2010 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest in over 30 years.  “TRICARE, the U.S. Department of Defense’s military health care program, will continue to be available for all eligible servicemen and women, and their families,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Senate, House Pass Final Health Care Reconciliation Bill
The Senate passed the final piece of the health care package on Thursday, 56-43, and sent it back to the House, after Republicans identified two minor violations of reconciliation rules that forced changes to a provision on student loans.  For a tally of that vote, go to http://bit.ly/aFpCZq.   Three Democrats voted against the bill: Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas, and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. In total, 29 Senate amendments were easily rejected, meaning that the health-care package survived essentially intact.  The House approved the Senate’s reconciliation bill later on Thursday, 220-207 ( http://bit.ly/9bDdAG ).

Twelve Days Until the National Convention in Las Vegas
On Monday, April 5, Alliance members will be able to personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for shepherding health reform through the Senate.  On that day, Reid will address the Alliance’s 2010 national convention in Las Vegas.  Other speakers will include AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), and the Honorable Hilda Solis.  The theme for the April 5-8 convention is “Building Retiree Power.”  To register, go to http://bit.ly/1jIzz2 .

Note: Due to Good Friday, the next Friday Alert will be published on Thursday, April 1, 2010.