Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals
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Current AFT Retiree E-News

Day of Action reclaims the promise of public education

AFT affiliates and their community partners rallied on Dec. 9 in a National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education. In cities across the country, parents, students, school employees, faith leaders and community activists came together to call on leaders to listen to those closest to the classroom about what’s best for our children and for improving public education. Thousands participated in more than 100 events, and tens of thousands more showed their support online. They took part because they know that the market-based ideologies of privatization, austerity and competition are failing our children. They want to reclaim our schools and improve public education for all.

The National Day of Action showcased public actions ranging from rallies with school marching bands to free book distributions for children in need. Together, those actions demonstrated "The Principles that Unite Us" as a common vision for public education. The National Day of Action was the first step in amplifying our voices, to be followed by more campaigns and larger actions in the spring.

Detroit public workers’ pensions shouldn’t take the hit in bankruptcy

Detroit's bankruptcy was caused by predatory financial deals, a revenue crisis, massive job losses and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's decision to slash state aid. In the bankruptcy, the modest pensions of Detroit's firefighters, police officers and city employees could be all but wiped out, even as Wall Street banks continue to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from the city's economy. It's unfair that public workers take the lion's share of the hit, while Wall Street did the lion's share of damage.

Budget agreement averts a shutdown, but more work remains

On Dec. 12, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a two-year budget deal created by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The legislation has also passed in the Senate, and President Obama has signaled that he will sign the bill into law. The agreement will not cut earned Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. However, Congress has missed a key opportunity to close tax loopholes used by corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The deal also makes federal workers pay more for their pension benefits and cuts veterans’ and military retirees’ pensions.

Fasting for immigration reform

On Dec. 3, AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFT Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, visited immigrant rights advocates who had been fasting since Nov. 12. The fasters, encamped on the National Mall, were pressing the U.S. House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform by year’s end. Ricker and some members of her local are among the 10,000 solidarity fasters who are fasting for immigration reform one day a week until Congress passes the law or adjourns this month for the year. On Dec. 3, after 22 days, four of the original fasters passed the fast on to new fasters. (Pictured above, left to right at the Dec. 3 press conference, are Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. John Lewis, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Lee Saunders of AFSCME, Randi Weingarten and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.)

Changes to Social Security and Medicare for 2014

There will be a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries in January 2014. Increased payments to beneficiaries who receive Supplemental Security Income will begin on Dec. 31, 2013.The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.

You can also learn more about changes to your Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2014.

Keeping Newtown forever in our hearts

AFT President Randi Weingarten honored Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "The pain and tragedy of what happened last year on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School will never be forgotten," Weingarten said. "But in that tragedy, we saw angels—educators who dedicated their lives to helping our children reach for the stars—give their lives in the service of our children." The AFT represents the educators and school staff in Newtown.