APWU Retirees Still Fighting for Justice

Nancy Olumekor

November 20, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

COLA 2020

Is 1.6 percent a fair Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Seniors?

It is projected that the average increase in benefits will be $24 and that the average Medicare B premium will increase by $8, with a net COLA of $16 per month for most seniors.

Retirees are short-changed because their COLA is calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) instead of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Using CPI-W short-changes the seniors by not considering the spending habits of elders. Elders have higher costs for things such as health care and housing, while urban and clerical workers have higher costs related to expenses such as education, clothing, and transportation.

We must enlist everyone we can to help us stop this unfair calculation. It is incumbent upon retirees to continue to work to achieve a fair COLA, by pushing Congress to pass legislation that will calculate the COLA based on CPI-E. Currently in Congress there are several pending bills that include using the CPI-E to ensure a more accurate adjustment. Beginning in January 2019, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative John Larson (D-CT-1) introduced S. 269 and H.R. 860 the Social Security 2100 Act, which increases benefits and institutes the CPI-E. In February 2019, The Social Security Expansion Act, S. 478 and H.R. 1170, was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR- 4). The legislation expands Social Security benefits by using CPI-E to calculate a more accurate COLA, as well as other improvements.

The Fair COLA for Seniors Act H.R. 1533 introduced by Representative John Garamendi (D-CA-3) in March 2019, will “provide for cost-of-living increases for certain federal benefits programs based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for the elderly.”

H.R. 2654 was introduced in May 2019 by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38) as the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2019, which also adopts the CPI-E as “the applicable Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers,” along with other improved benefits.

Make an Action Plan

  1. Make a list of your family, neighbors, friends and other like-minded registered voters and educate to them on the importance of using the CPI-E when calculating the COLA for the elderly.
  2. Plan a day of action, for CPI-E. That could be writing letters and postcards or making telephone calls to Capitol Hill, 202-224-3121.
  3. Ask your representatives to cosponsor legislation on CPI-E and to help move the bill along.
  4. Explain why this legislation is important to you, your family and your community.
  5. Share your story and your affiliations with other constituency groups such as veterans, church or community organizations, and the union.
  6. Establish a relationship with your representative and thank them for supporting our issues.

Resources: National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Thank You!

First, I thank our veterans and all of our active military personnel for their service on behalf of all of us.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the membership of the APWU over the past three years. Thank you for re-electing and continuing to support me in the true spirit of unionism. I extend special thanks to those of you who offered words of encouragement of any kind to me. I cannot do this work without your support!

As I look back over the past three years, I am mindful of all of the friends, families and loved ones APWU members and retirees have lost – many great unionists who built this union and without their great work we would not be here. In closing, I wish each of you Happy Holidays, Good Health and Happiness in the New Year. In Solidarity.

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