Still Marching and Fighting for Jobs, Justice and Freedom

Nancy Olumekor

July 18, 2023

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of The American Postal Worker Magazine)

This summer marks several anniversaries for APWU retirees as union and community activists. The U. S. Postal System was created on July 26, 1775. In August 1935, Social Security was created, then in July 1965 Medicare became law. In August 1963, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the People’s March for Jobs and Freedom. In August 1970, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 became law, which established the USPS. On July 1, 1971, the APWU was founded from the merger of five unions. On the surface, postal workers and annuitants may consider these anniversaries as victories and gains.

We are still marching and fighting for jobs, justice, and freedom. The Postal Service is under attack from within. The hostile work environment imposed by management and DeJoy’s 10-year plan threatens to destroy what many Americans still view favorably as one of the top federal agencies. Retirees are not receiving their full benefits under Social Security, Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), and Medicare. Healthcare is still not for all.

Millions of federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), state and local public employee retirees are not reaping their full Social Security benefits that they paid for while working. They worked additional jobs which qualified them to receive Social Security benefits. Social Security was deducted from their paychecks for 10 years or 40 quarters.

Now, as annuitants, their Social Security benefits are cut-taxed by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) enacted in 1983, and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) enacted in 1977. These laws penalized those annuitants who also qualified for pensions that don’t pay into Social Security, such as a federal, state, or local public employees.

These retirees are still waiting for Congress to repeal the WEP and the GPO.

Congress may be on their summer recess but there is no recess or relaxation for federal retirees, as well as many state and local public employees, when they are denied the full benefits that are due from Social Security.

Congress needs to act now to pass the Social Security Fairness Act H.R. 82 and S.597 which will repeal the WEP and GPO. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitants are being denied fair and equitable treatment when their COLA is less than the increase given to CSRS annuitants. Congress also needs to pass the Equal COLA Act; H.R. 866 will eliminate that disparity and also compute the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based on CPI-E for elderly instead of CPI-W for workers. Call your congressional representatives and your senators, ask them to co-sponsor and vote for these Acts. Keep the pressure on Congress by encouraging our family, friends, and acquaintances to also contact Congress at: 202-224-3121, send letters, postcards and emails.

The APWU Retirees Department is mourning the recent death of two long time APWU activists, Alton “Al” Fouche on April 25, 2023 and John Richards on May 27, 2023.

Brother Al Fouche served the APWU membership in numerous positions. At the national level, he served as National Maintenance Representative before and after the APWU merger of 1971. Al retired from the USPS in 1990 after 33 years. As a retiree, Brother Fouche was president of the Detroit Area Local Retiree Chapter and trustee of the Michigan Postal Workers Union State Retiree Chapter until July 2021.

John Richards served the APWU membership in numerous positions at the local and national levels. As a retiree Brother Richards remained very active as president of the Pittsburgh Area Retiree Chapter since 2007. John served as the APWU Eastern Region Retiree Delegate to the National Convention from 2007 until 2022, when he decided not to run for re-election. 


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