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Senior Power Grows


A Texas Alliance for Retired Americans Meeting. I'm in the back

I was never very interested in normal work. It was just a way to make a living while I applied myself in the struggle for human improvement. In 2002, I realized that I could retire if I lived frugally. Best of all, I was in the Auto Workers Union, which emphasizes its connection to retirees. I would be able to continue adding the word "union" ahead of the appelation "activist," and I wouldn't be wasting most of my days in the factory. So I retired at 62.

Fortunately for me, fortunately for everybody, the progressive leadership of the AFL-CIO started the Alliance for Retired Americans in 2003. They made it possible to organize all union retirees, to organize them together, and to reach out to the vast majority of seniors who have no union affiliation. As a percentage of the population, there are more seniors now than ever, because Americans live longer than ever.

I had already been doing senior outreach as part of North Texas Jobs with Justice, so I didn't have to start from ground zero. I attended the first meeting of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA) and nearly every meeting since then.

Attacks against seniors and the right to retire have become all-out war. Regular pension plans have been decimated. Very few workers even have a decent pension plan. Health care costs have skyrocketed at several times the rate of inflation. In 2006, newly re-elected President Bush announced that he was going to privatize Social Security. I threw myself into that fight and every other one like it.

Around 2007, I became Secretary of TARA and I inherited the position of President when the titleholder died in 2011. I've thrown nearly all my efforts into the movement to protect and extend the right to retire in America. Some of the attacks against the right to retire are harder to explain than others, but they are consistent and constant. They consistently attack seniors' rights and new ones are initiated every time Congress meets. States, too, are cutting seniors.

The bosses are trying to cut what they see as their costs, which are our livelihoods. Children and seniors have been hit the hardest so far, because we're the most vulnerable. Most American seniors still seem to think that the retirement benefits they had when they stopped working are inviolable, but millions have already found out that they aren't. It's hard to rouse seniors. But then, it's kind of hard to rouse anybody, but it has to be done!


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