Still Fighting for Justice: Continuing to Use Our Voices for What’s Next

Nancy Olumekor

November 17, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Yes, the voice of retirees, and everyone else, was heard in the 2020 elections. We must still do the work to protect our federal pensions, benefits and the Postal Service. Retirees and postal workers will continue to let Congress know that we expect them to protect our hard-earned benefits – our federal pensions (CSRS or FERS), Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and life insurance, and we expect them to protect and preserve the Postal Service by supporting and passing legislation to accomplish these goals.

There are still millions of CSRS annuitants waiting for Congress to pass legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) in order to provide us with a fair return on our investment in the Social Security system. Many CSRS annuitants worked and contributed into the Social Security system at the same rate as other non- CSRS annuitants who contributed to Social Security, yet CSRS annuitants are denied an equitable benefit for those contributions. It is time for the Social Security Fairness Act to become the law.

Retirees are also being short-changed by the method used to calculate our COLA. The method is based on 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 takes money out of seniors’ pockets by using the spending habits of urban and clerical workers as the factor instead of the using the spending habits of the elderly. Using CPI-W and calculating consumer spending habits of people who work does not accurately reflect the spending patterns of those who are retired or disabled.

To collect data on the inflation rate faced by consumers in the marketplace, the federal government collects data on costs for what they call the “market basket” of goods and services. According to The National Committee to Preserve and Protect Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), research shows that elderly people have higher costs for “market basket” categories such as health care and housing while urban and clerical workers have higher cost expenses for such things as education, clothing, and transportation. The NCPSSM also writes that “not only do health care expenditures steadily increase with age but health care costs have also consistently risen much faster than other 'market basket' categories.”

“The CPI-W does not take these critical differences in the elderly population into consideration,” the NCPPSM says. The CPI-E represents the most accurate measure of the inflation affecting our nation’s seniors.

It is incumbent upon workers and retirees to do everything we can to achieve a fair COLA by encouraging Congress to pass legislation that will calculate retirees’ COLA based on CPI-E. Continue to write letters, postcards and emails and call Congress at 1-202-224-3121. Remind Congress what our paramount issues are as postal retirees, senior citizens and postal workers.

Thank You for Your Service

Thank you to my sister and brother postal workers for showing up and moving the mail in service to America. Thank you to all the veterans and all the active military personnel for your service; thank you to all the essential workers who are our families, our friends, our neighbors for your continued service.

As I reflect on 2020 it is clear to me that I must never miss an opportunity to say “Thank you.” I am mindful of the friends, families and loved ones that APWU members and retirees have lost this year, including our first Retirees Director John R “JR” Smith, as well as the other great unionists who helped build APWU. Without their service and commitment we would not be here.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Good Health and Happiness in the New Year to all.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you.

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