8 April 2014
AFSCME Sub-chapter 161
We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old OrchardRoad, Skokie, Il. On Wednesday, April 16th. The meeting starts at 11 AM. Our guest speaker is Mr. David Amerson, AFSCME31 Retiree Coordinator. You won’t want to miss his talk.
Attention SERS & SURS members:
David Amerson is a member of a Labor/CMS Management committee that is charged with resolving problems you have receiving services withthe new health insurance. He needs witness testimony and specifics onwhere the health insurance is failing you. Call AFSCME31 at (312) 641-6060 and ask the operator to connect you to David. If you get a message,leave David your contact information. Assemble you evidence before you call, so that you have answers to questions David will probably ask.
Before I retired I was a Local 1891 officer and bargaining team member.Contracts, even in the best circumstances, can have errors that have to be found and corrected through follow-up meetings with both parties. CMS isdelaying the correcting process. Since AFSCME isn’t a service model union(the “good hands” type), we will have to find ways of applying member pressure to DHS and the insurance contractor so they abide by the contract.That is why your particular complaints are necessary to this process of making the insurance work for you.
Attention IMRF, City and County Retirees:
If you have been following Mayor Emmanuel’s efforts and Rep Conroy’sAttempt to end the 13th check, you know the city, county and State’s fiscalsituations are serious. The politicians would like to make us solve their deficit problem.
Blocking bad legislation won’t be enough to protect our pensions.Illinois needs a fair and permanent answer to the structural deficit problemit has had for more than forty years. Springfield has been in gridlock for years. Any reform will have to come from grassroots pressure. AFSCME Council31 and especially AFSCME Retirees know how to create and apply grassroots pressure. No onegenerously gave government employees a union. No SERS, SURS, City, County, or IMRF found a COLA or 13th check in their Christmas stocking. AFSME members, like you, fought for and won them.
Since an injury to one is now an injury to all.Since we are all in this together.We will be calling you to ask you to join in an organized effort.This means calling, writing, and e-mailing legislators to stop this theft.Your calls were enough to get Rep Conroy to pull her amendment to HB3898.Join us, call these legislators. This fight won’t be quick or easy. But we have to win it if we are to ever havePension security.
Charles Hogan, President
Cellphone: (773) 679-6835
A letter from Ann Widger, Director, AFSCME Retirees
50,000 Stronger Resolution
Prepared Remarks for Lee Saunders, AFSCME President
A Letter from Henry Bayer, Executive Director, and Roberta Lynch, Deputy Director AFSCME 31
See also an announcement from member David Rolston on our Members’ Forum Page
Good Afternoon —
Thank you for joining the AFSCME Retiree Tele-Town Hall last Friday, March 28. We had hundreds of retiree leaders from across the country join the call. To follow up, we would like to share with you two things. First, a copy of the resolution we mentioned on the call. We are asking that ALL Retiree Chapters and Subchapters pass this resolution at their next executive board meeting. Second, we are attaching Pres. Saunders remarks from the call so you can share them with your members. Both documents are attached and pasted below.
Please let us know when you executive board passes the resolution so we can keep track of all of our retiree affiliates who have taken that step. Please send us a copy via email and/or regular mail. Also, as always, please free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Director, AFSCME Retirees
1625 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Retiree Chapter ___
50,000 Stronger Resolution
WHEREAS, Working people organizing through the labor movement built the middle class in America, and as a result, raised living standards and working conditions; and
WHEREAS, Union density is now at its lowest level since the Great Depression and this resulted in an economy where workers are more productive than ever before but experience stagnant wages, eroding benefits and increasing workloads; and
WHEREAS, Corporate interests understand that AFSCME is the last obstacle to their control of labor markets, so they exploit vast resources to fund attacks on pensions, health care benefits and collective bargaining; and
WHEREAS, Corporate-funded politicians of all political persuasions stripped union members of their rights and benefits in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, and states like New York, Illinois and Rhode Island also single out public service employees for attack; and
WHEREAS, The Supreme Court currently considers whether to ban collective bargaining for public sector workers; and
WHEREAS,The attacks we currently face are unprecedented in their scale, relentlessness and level of coordination; and
WHEREAS, Workers and retirees must mobilize like never before to force elected political leaders to respect collective bargaining, economic justice and worker empowerment; and
WHEREAS, AFSCME was built by women and men who stood firm, in solidarity, in the face of insurmountable odds and for the greater good, whether in Memphis, Philadelphia or Wisconsin; and
WHEREAS, We must draw inspiration from those who passed us the torch and ensure the next generation faces a brighter future than the last; and
WHEREAS, AFSCME leaders from across the nation recently came together and assessed the Power to Win program, which convention delegates adopted in 2006 to strengthen the union to withstand political attacks, improve public services and raise living standards for public service workers and the citizens they serve, and set specific goals and urged councils to adopt volunteer member organizer (VMO) programs to grow the union; and
WHEREAS, These leaders concluded that Power to Win is still the strongest plan to rebuild the middle class, along with the following four pillars:
1. Strengthen our foundation with local unions.
2. Grow the union by organizing the unorganized.
3. Build political power.
4. Strengthen the union through coalitions and allies; and
WHEREAS, We will strengthen our locals through internal organizing campaigns at the local level between now and the 2014 AFSCME International Convention; and
WHEREAS, This program will only be successful with the deep commitment of union leaders, activists and retirees across the country; and
WHEREAS, Recruiting and training Retiree VMOs not only builds our local unions, it also enhances retiree leadership skills and builds the internal capacity of our retiree chapters and subchapter.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, Retirees, working hand-in-hand with working members, will help sign up 50,000 new AFSCME members from those who were previously fee payers or non-members, and we will encourage a higher level of activism through education and mobilization. We will help train an army of 800 activists to educate our prospective members and their families about what’s at stake and what our Power to Win goals are.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Executive Board of Retiree Chapter __ pledges to work with the appropriate locals and state councils and lend its full support to engage non-members and encourage them to fully participate in the union as part of the 50,000 Stronger campaign. We will provide assistance whenever possible to further the following campaign activities:
VMO Training. One-on-one communication is the most effective way to activate workers and retiree members. We will recruit and train retiree volunteer member organizers who will gain the skills to educate and mobilize and sign up more members.
Resolutions. Retiree Chapter Board members will urge the executive boards of our subchapters – where applicable – to adopt a similar resolution in support of the campaign and to actively recruit retiree VMOs.
Information Is Power. We will support efforts to establish the most effective data program in order to communicate with and mobilize retirees, and our chapters will transmit updated membership rosters to the International union on a regular basis.
Political Power. Our plans will include goals to grow our political strength through PEOPLE sign ups. We commit to sign up ___ Retiree MVPs by the 2014 International Convention.
Prepared Remarks for
Retirees Tele-Town Hall
Friday, March 28, 2014
Good afternoon AFSCME Retirees, and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to join us.
If you’re on this call, then you already know what we’re up against. These last several years have been tough. But right now, we’re in the most difficult and hostile circumstances our union has ever experienced.
We’re seeing attacks at every level, and a degree of unprecedented coordination by people who are passing bad ideas back and forth with a vengeance. These ideas take many forms: Stealing the retirement security our members have worked hard for all their lives. Wiping out bargaining rights. Outsourcing public services to private companies that get rich on the public dime. Making dues deduction illegal so they can starve us of resources.
AFSCME’s working members are standing on the foundation you built, brick by brick. You more than any other members know we’ve never had an easy road. No boss ever gave us anything; we had to fight for every right or benefit we’ve ever gotten. You remember how things were before the union, and you know how life changed for the better after collective bargaining. You know the “good old days” weren’t so good if you didn’t have a voice on the job.
Well, the old days could be making a return. It’s not breaking news that we’re under attack. But a case before the U.S. Supreme Court has upped the ante and threatens to bulldoze everything you built.
You’ll hear more about it in just a minute. It’s called Harris v. Quinn, and it was brought by several home care workers against the state of Illinois. The case began as a specific challenge to the union’s right to bargain fair share fees. But it has the potential to affect the right of public sector workers to choose a union as their bargaining representative.
Our union has a choice. We can either watch what we’ve worked for erode, state by state, or we can get stronger and change the trajectory for working people across this nation. For AFSCME, it’s really not even a choice.
In January, Secretary-Treasurer Reyes and I met with affiliate leaders to come up with a plan to fight back. We’re calling this plan the Four Pillars. In brief, here’s what it is:
- Number 1: Growing the union;
- Number 2: Building political power;
- Number 3: Strengthening locals through internal organizing and principally through our 50,000 Stronger campaign; and
- Number 4: Building partnerships with allies like the Alliance for Retired Americans that can add to AFSCME’s strength.
We’ll get into greater detail as this call continues. But I’d like to say a few words about our 50,000 Stronger campaign, because I know you can have a major impact on it.
We’ve got an ambitious plan to train 800 volunteer member organizers. These VMOs will help us organize 50,000 members from the ranks of their co-workers who are not union members. You will be some of our best VMOs because you understand the value of one-on-one, old-school conversations. Nothing is more effective than looking someone in the eye and explaining what solidarity is all about. And nobody can do that better than you can. You know how to build a union from the ground up.
With your commitment and experience, I know this program will succeed. To that end, we are asking you to take a resolution in support of the Four Pillars back to your chapters and subchapters. You’ll hear more about that later.
As I turn the program over to other speakers, I want to thank you again for taking the time to be part of this call. Our challenges are tough, but with the 250,000 retirees of AFSCME on the frontlines of this fight, as you’ve been for every fight, our union is tougher.
TO: Local Government Local Union Presidents
Retiree Subchapter Presidents
FR: Henry Bayer, Executive Director
Roberta Lynch, Deputy Director
RE: Good News and Very Good News
Let’s start with the very good news. We just got word that Rep. Deb Conroy, the chief sponsor of HB 3898, has filed a motion to table this bill. As you know, this legislation would have abolished the IMRF “thirteenth check” reducing the retirement income of all current and future participants in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
The legislation was sparked by a phony “scandal” manufactured by the right-wing Illinois Policy Institute, a corporate-backed anti-government group that seeks to abolish all public employee pension plans. The IPI attacked the “thirteen check” as a “bonus” claiming it was ‘like retirees winning the lottery every year’.
Spurred by the press coverage these claims got, Rep. Conroy introduced HB 3898 to completely eliminate the 13th check. Last week it passed out of committee on a bipartisan 10-0 vote. But then AFSCME and our labor partners in the We Are One Illinois coalition immediately went into high gear. Thanks to you and many of your members, we generated hundreds of phone calls directly to Rep. Conroy—as well as to legislators across the state. Active and retired IMRF participants explained that the “13th check” provides important inflation protection comparable to that in other pension systems.
It’s rare that we can stop a bill right in its tracks, but that’s what we have done in this case. Hopefully the outpouring of opposition was strong enough that no other legislator will attempt to move a similar bill.
And here’s the good news: Governor Quinn’s FY 15 state budget plan does not make any cuts to funding for local governments. That means that local governments will continue to receive their full share from the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF)—as well as grants for health care and other vital services. And it means that school districts may actually see an increase in educational funding.
However, there’s still a big question mark about whether this budget can pass the General Assembly because it is contingent on legislators agreeing to extend the income tax increase that is set to expire on January 1. AFSCME led a massive grassroots lobbying effort to pass the income tax increase back in 2009 and we argued strongly at the time that it should be permanent. We continue to hold that position—and strongly support the plan to make it permanent now. At the same time, we want to see a fairer tax structure in Illinois that can help to raise additional revenues. That’s why we’re continuing to push legislators to vote to place the Fair Tax constitutional amendment, backed by A Better Illinois, on the ballot in the November election.
Be sure you let your legislators know that you support extending the income tax and passage of the Fair Tax.