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the offsets, our members MUST communicate to their House Representative why it is important for the GPO/WEP to be repealed.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:
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-203Dirksen 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