URGENT MESSAGE – 11-12-07 – ACT TODAY!

November 14, 2007

 Dear All,                                                                                                                 11-12-07

    Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D. C. with three other colleagues from Kentucky.  We attended the press conference and the subcommittee hearing of the Senate Finance Committee that addresses Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy under which  the  GPO (Government Pension Offset) and the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) fall. 

Jim Sproul (past NEA Director/KEA-Retired), Arletta Kennedy (past NEA Director), and Diane McKim (present NEA Director/JCTA) have been involved in the efforts to educate our members about the GPO and the WEP for many years.  We visited Scott Raab in Senator McConnell’s office and he again reiterated the fact that Senator McConnell wishes to address the GPO/WEP only when the Congress addresses Social Security issues as a whole.  We also dropped by Senator Bunning’s office and again left information, as he and his staff were unable to meet with us.

    I was impressed with the depth of knowledge that both Senator Susan Collins (Maine) and Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts) exhibited during the press conference and the afternoon SFC subcommittee hearing.  Senator Dianne Feinstein of California was unable to attend, but she did send her comments via written communication.  Individuals from all of the affected states were in attendance, as was Peggy Kane, an active teacher from Massachusetts and an NEA member, and Margaret L. Baptiste of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE).  They spoke eloquently about the affects of the GPO and WEP on retirees.  Seventy-five per cent of those affected are women as their spousal benefits are not recognized at the same level as those women who have private sector benefits.  Even women who have never worked at all are able to claim the contributions made by their spouse in non-public jobs.  Senators Collins and Feinstein have co-sponsored the bill in the past, but needed a co-sponsor from the powerful SFC, so Senator Kerry agreed to co-sponsor their “bill”. 

    When asked what the timeline would be to rectify the GPO/WEP issue, Senator Kerry said the next thing we need to do is encourage our House Representatives to work together with Senate co-sponsors to repeal these offsets.  Since all of our Kentucky representatives have signed on to repeal the offsets, our members MUST communicate to their House Representative why it is important for the GPO/WEP to be repealed.  Many of us have paid into SS during summer, second and third jobs, in careers outside of teaching, or have spouses who have contributed to SS during all their working years.  We are not asking for a handout.  These are monies we have paid into the system and we have every right to claim the dividends of our contributions over the years like any other American.  See “My Story” (this blog site) for yet another type of unjust situation.

    I have asked William (Bill) Lambert of the United Teachers Los Angeles to send information to me on the kind of petition they used to collect thousands of signatures throughout California, as well as in other affected states.  If you decide to give me a call, I’ll get back to you  when Bill gets the information to me.  Carrie Lewis and Al Campos of NEA would like to see a million names on petitions by early next year to show our lawmakers how many people are concerned about these unfair offsets.  I promised we can deliver thousands of signatures from our members, their family, and friends in Kentucky.

    Please see the article that appeared in The Washington Post:                
                                            http://www.nea.org/lac/socsec/latestnews.html

Our members may send their correspondence to the Senate Committee on Finance until next Tuesday, November 20, 2007 if they want their comments to be included in the official subcommittee record.  I’ve inserted info below:

    

        “The Subcommittee will accept written submissions for the record.  Your statement must be typewritten and single-spaced, not exceeding 10 pages in length.  The first page must clearly state your full name and address as well as the title and date of the hearing (“GPO and WEP: Policies Affecting Pensions from Work Not Covered by Social Security” November 6, 2007).  Statements must be MAILED (not faxed) to:Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-203
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200b
 Statements must be received no later than two weeks after the hearing.  In submitting a story for the record, please: §        Follow exactly all the submission standards as outlined above.§        Be clear and concise in your message.  §        Tell your story using polite language and urge Congress to repeal the GPO and WEP.  §        Be sure to correct all spelling or grammatical errors prior to submitting.   

Rhonda W. Hale
(502) 228-2047 Home

 


UPDATE: 11-8-07 2 WKS TO WRITE LETTER

November 8, 2007

THE FINANCE COMM. HEARD TESTIMONY YESTERDAY.  WE NOW HAVE TWO WEEKS TO SEND LETTERS, TELLING OUR STORIES OF HOW WE HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED!!!!!   READ BELOW …..   ACT TODAY!

The Subcommittee will accept written submissions for the record. Your statement must be typewritten and single-spaced, not exceeding 10 pages in length. The first page must clearly state your full name and address as well as the title and date of the hearing (“GPO and WEP: Policies Affecting Pensions from Work Not Covered by Social Security” November 6, 2007).

Statements must be MAILED (not faxed) to:

Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-203
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200b

Statements must be received no later than two weeks after the hearing. In submitting a story for the record, please:

  • Follow exactly all the submission standards as outlined above.
  • Be clear and concise in your message.
  • Tell your story using polite language and urge Congress to repeal the GPO and WEP.
  • Be sure to correct all spelling or grammatical errors prior to submitting.

ACT NOW: GPO/WEP HEARING NOVEMBER 6, 2007 !!!!!!

November 2, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

   I am forwarding this message from Carrie Lewis to you as you have expressed an interest in the GPO and WEP issue facing public school teachers in Kentucky.  Please get the word out and follow through.  We should make our representatives aware of how these unfair offsets affect us, as well as our families.  Many thanks for all you do for others.  Rhonda


Rhonda W. Hale
(502) 228-2047 Home

(502) 594-3884 Cell

————– Original message from <CLewis@nea.org>: ————–

st1\:*{behavior:url(#default#ieooui) }

October 31, 2007 GPO/WEP Hearing Scheduled for November 6!!The Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, chaired by Senator Kerry (D-MA), has announced that they will hold a hearing on the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision on Tuesday, November 6.  MTA/NEA Retired member, Peggy Kane – a high school English teacher for 35 years who retired four years ago from the Medford Public School system in Massachusetts – will testify at the hearing.  Announcement of the hearing is a huge victory for NEA members and other activists who have been pushing hard for movement on legislation to repeal the GPO and WEP.   The Subcommittee will accept written submissions for the record.  Your statement must be typewritten and single-spaced, not exceeding 10 pages in length.  The first page must clearly state your full name and address as well as the title and date of the hear ing (“GPO and WEP: Policies Affecting Pensions from Work Not Covered by Social Security” November 6, 2007).  Statements must be MAILED (not faxed) to:Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-203
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200b
 Statements must be received no later than two weeks after the hearing.  In submitting a story for the record, please: §        Follow exactly all the submission standards as outlined above.§        Be clear and concise in your message.  §        Tell your story using polite language and urge Congress to repeal the GPO and WEP.  §        Be sure to correct all spelling or grammatical errors prior to submitting.    Stay Up-To-Date!  The latest GPO/WEP news is posted on NEA’s


Legislative Action Center at http://www.nea.org/lac/socsec/index.html.   

**************************************************
Only the individual sender is responsible for the content of the
message, and the message does not necessarily reflect the position
or policy of the National Education Association or its affiliates.


APRIL 4, 2007 UPDATE

April 4, 2007

Dear Colleagues,                                                                 

 I’ve returned to Louisville and wanted to forward this to you.  I did receive a letter from Representative Brent Yonts, who shared that the state initiative was passed in Frankfort … which was to send a letter to the U.S. Congress asking them to repeal the GPO/WEP as it was affecting our educators in Kentucky.  I’m not sure how this will affect our two senators who have not signed on, but it can’t hurt. I hope all of you are well.  Please contact me by email or on my cell at 502.594.3884.  We will have a booth set up at the KEA-Delegate Assembly next week, so if you are at the Executive West or have folks coming to the DA from your district, please ask them to stop by to pick up materials from NEA and KEA.  As always, we appreciate all you do for the Association and others.       Rhonda

From: <CLewis@nea.org>
Date: 2007/03/19 Mon PM 03:05:15 EST
Subject: Message from Reg Weaver and John Wilson on GPO/WEP Activities
 
 Memorandum
 TO:
 GPO/WEP Activists
 FROM:
 Reg Weaver
 John Wilson
  RE:
 GPO/WEP Legislative Activities
 
 Thank you all very much for the excellent work you have done and
 continue to do in the fight to repeal the Government Pension Offset
 (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).  Many of you have been
 asking us how our campaign to repeal the offsets will proceed in the
 coming months and what the next steps are that you can take to move us
 toward our goal.  We would like to take this opportunity to give you
 some information about NEA’s current priorities and how the GPO/WEP
 efforts fit into our agenda.
 
 As you may know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), most
 recently reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act, is up for
 reauthorization this year.  Advancing NEA’s Positive Agenda for the ESEA
 Reauthorization to address the many concerns about the law’s impact on
 educators and the students they serve is now our top legislative
 priority.  We have reorganized our staff into an ESEA Campaign with
 lobbying, grassroots, and media components.  Many of our lobbyists, as
 well as grassroots, field, and policy staff, will be spending most, if
 not all, of their time on this ESEA Campaign. 
 
 We will also be focusing our grassroots activities on the ESEA Campaign.
 Because we do not want to confuse our message, we do not anticipate
 holding lobby days or grassroots calls to action on other issues,
 including GPO/WEP, in the near future.  We will continue, however, to
 send out our weekly cyber alerts on any education-related issues moving
 in Congress and needing immediate attention.
 
 Our focus on ESEA reauthorization does not in any way diminish our
 efforts to repeal GPO/WEP.  Much of our work on the issue will proceed
 uninterrupted.  For example:
 
 *  NEA lobbyist Al Campos will continue to lobby Congress to move
 the Social Security Fairness Act forward for debate and vote.
 
 *  We will continue to look for and take advantage of every
 opportunity to push the GPO/WEP message in every available forum and on
 every potential legislative vehicle.  For example, NEA has been invited
 to testify this week before the Senate Finance Committee (which has
 jurisdiction over Social Security as well as tax policy and other
 financial issues).  The focus of the hearing is on ways in which that
 particular committee can help strengthen public education.  Repeal of
 the GPO and WEP will feature prominently in NEA’s testimony. 
 
 *  Our grassroots cadre will continue their work in the states to
 build grassroots support for repeal.  Each cadre team will continue to
 receive funding for their work.
 
 *  We will continue to send out periodic updates on the progress
 of the Social Security Fairness Act, including the latest cosponsors. 
  
 *  Our website will continue to feature advocacy tools and the
 latest news on the fight for repeal and will continue to allow activists
 to e-mail Members of Congress on this issue. 
 
 *  We will continue to collect stories of impacted individuals for
 use with Congress and the media.
 
 * We will continue our work with the Coalition to Assure
 Retirement Equity, which includes organizations representing police,
 firefighters, federal employees, and other impacted populations.  
  
 We hope this information helps clarify NEA’s work on GPO/WEP in the
 context of our focus on ESEA reauthorization.  If you have any
 questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. 
 
 *******************************************************************
 Only the individual sender is responsible for the content of the
 message, and the message does not necessarily reflect the position
or policy of the National Education Association or its affiliates.


MY STORY

November 17, 2006

Mr. Erik D. Olsen

President, AARP Board of Directors

601 E St. NW

Washington, D.C. 20049

Dear Mr. Olsen,

     I taught public school in several states and always paid Social Security taxes.  In 1987, I moved home to Kentucky with a total of 69 Social Security credits.  (I’m sure you are aware that only 40 are required to draw a full benefit check.)  I soon learned that Kentucky teachers did not pay Social Security taxes.  I wanted to pay these taxes, but the only way I could was to take a second non-governmental job.  For health reasons, that was not an option for me.  It wouldn’t have made a difference anyhow, as I still would have had a benefit cut.

     In 2002 I retired from public school teaching in Kentucky.  When I did, I was informed that even though I had more than enough Social Security credits to qualify for a full benefit check, I would be subjected to the GPO/WEP reduction provisions.  In other words, I would lose about sixty percent of what I had rightly earned — simply because I retired in Kentucky!  At that time, my reduced Social Security benefit was $266.00.  Now that I am on Medicare, it is $220.00.  Some retirees have lost much more.  The point is, no matter the sum, we worked and earned our benefit — which is being kept from us.

     For health reasons, I had to take early retirement, so I do not have a large retirement income.  I am by myself and have no family to help me.  My retirement income is critical.  I feel nauseated when I think if I had retired in Arizona, where I used to teach, I would have received a full benefit check!

     The greater issue is the injustice that many older Americans have suffered as a result of the GPO/WEP.  Our governments assured and required us to pay into Social Security system.  We were assured that if we accumulated the required credits, we would receive our earned benefit.  For a large number of Americans, this has not been the case, due to the GPO/WEP.  Our trust was betrayed in the form of new rules — a grave injustice.  In a democracy, all working Americans must be treated with equity, thus it is also discriminatory.  The GPO/WEP has had a devastating effect on the retirement income of many people.

     I urge AARP to adopt The Social Security Fairness Act as one of its priority issues.  Yours is a powerful organization and it is older Americans that are suffering the income loss.  I have no doubt that AARP would be greatly admired and appreciated if its lobbying efforts were to result in the passage of the Fairness Act.  Thank you very much!

Sincerely, 

LK,  Kentucky


ANY QUESTIONS? SUGGESTIONS?

November 8, 2006

This weblog was started by three teachers in Kentucky.  The NEA has offered to serve as a resource for us, as they are in touch and up-to-date with their information, so they are very well informed. 

For questions or suggestions, please email:  clewis@nea.org  To perhaps help get her attention, enter “teachersfightback.wordpress.com” in the subject line.  

Each of us can only do so much, but try to find a few minutes to do the most important thing right now:  Write a letter to AARP and ask that the Fairness Act be adopted as one of their priority issues. 

Thank you ever so much!


A TEACHER’S STORY

November 8, 2006

Maine Senator Susan Collins ( and many others!) has been working hard to pass The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 147/S.619).  Her website relates the tragic story of one Maine teacher — which is typical of teachers all across our country!  

Click on the following website (the underlined words) to read the teacher’s  story:   www.collins.senate.gov/   Once you are on Senator Collins’ website, look at the top right of the page for “search.”  Type in “Social Security Fairness Act,” click on the red arrows (top right) to search and you will get six excellent topics on the subject of the Fairness Act.  Read as you wish. 

Then, if you want to return to the blog, just keep clicking on the “back” button (top left of your page) until you get back to the blog. 


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