AFGE, Local 3937
Local Business Meeting
January 14, 2015
Labor Temple, Seattle WA
Present were: Steve Kofahl, Carrie Kitchin-Kofahl, Laura Novakoski, Ana Rivers, Ivan Weich, Susan Campbell, Tim Roark, Ardeth Bolin and John Pfannenstein.
The meeting was called to order at 7:00pm.
Our closing combined balance for all accounts last year was $195,243.67 (12/31/14). A year ago (1/1/14) our initial balance was $222,229.29 so we are down by about $27,000. One big issue is the Local is not being reimbursed timely by National for all the sign-up bonuses we’ve been issuing (e.g. in November alone, we paid out about $7,400 in rebates).
WSLC – Legislative Conference:
On 2/19/15 the Washington State Legislative Conference will hold a reception at the Red Lion in Olympia, and 2/20 is the legislative lobbying day. The day for visiting state legislators is to discuss items for the coming session. This year a big topic will be how to fund state government. We attend this type of state event to participate in issues that may relate to Social Security and to support our brothers and sisters in their struggles as they support us in ours. Carrie made a motion that the Local fund one delegate to participate at a cost not to exceed $600; Tim seconded. This would cover one night’s lodging, travel and per diem for two days; there is no registration fee. Motion passed.
The Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans 2015 special convention will be held on 2/10/15 while our Legislative Coordinators will be in D.C. It will be held from 9am-3pm at the Machinists Hall in Seattle. Carrie made a motion that the Local fund one delegate to participate in the convention at a cost not to exceed $150; Ardeth seconded. The ARA is the AFL-CIO’s retiree association (present and future retirees); they’ve been active in our struggles to preserve and protect Social Security’s benefits and administration. They have also been very supportive in our fight to push back on Vision 2025 and we would be pleased if the Local could be represented in the meeting. Motion passed.
Social Security Works – WA Forum:
Social Security Works – Washington asked us to contribute $50 towards the costs of the upcoming forum on 2/23/15 from 7pm – 8:30pm at the UFCW in Seattle. Nancy Altman, the co-chair of Social Security Works, will discuss threats to the program under the new Congress, and the attempts to prohibit the Agency from balancing the trust funds and to privatize Social Security. It is an open meeting for all members, and the theme is “Social Security – Why It’s Not Broken.” There are 150 organizations represented (collectively representing about 150 million people in the U.S.). They are all about protecting Social Security and Medicare, and are very active in partnering with us and improving service delivery. We have contributed to them in the past, when they produced educational videos, and may be asked to do so again. Carrie made a motion that we contribute $50 to Social Security Works – WA to contribute in funding this forum; Tim seconded. Motion passed.
Ardeth made a motion that we renew our affiliations with various State Labor Councils and Central Labor Councils: Anchorage; Boise Central Trades; Marian, Polk and Yamhill Counties; MLK Jr. County CLC and Kitsap CLC; Tim seconded. We’re currently affiliated with those five organizations and this is just an annual continuation of our support. Some of our members actively participate in the CLC meetings and bring our issues to them as needed. AFGE is encouraging Locals across the country to affiliate with their Central Labor Councils – we’ve already been doing this for years and so we are ahead of the game compared to others. Motion passed.
The Real ID Act, HR 1268, was passed in 2005, in response in part to the occurrences on 9/11. It required all states to only issue Drivers Licenses (DL) and ID cards to citizens or legally admitted aliens. The Act was also meant to apply to those residents flying within the U.S. beginning in 2016. However, Washington State and a number of others resisted and are in non-compliance, feeling that all residents have the right to a valid ID, and should have a DL if they will be driving on the roadways. In 10/2014 we found that the Department of Homeland Security will begin requiring, effective 1/19/15, that the non-compliance states require an enhanced DL or a passport to enter any federal building. The Act was not meant to apply to voting, registering to vote, or for applying for or receiving federal benefits. However, many of our SSA offices are in federal buildings, so it’s likely that some of our clients who come to us for various reasons would be unable to get service. We brought this issue to SSA’s attention at a regional forum meeting, and also at the national level. We were unable to get solid assurances that they would not turn people away at the door. They expect Homeland Security to continue allowing clients to enter with alternative ID, but made no promises. We have taken this up with the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) and the international community in South Seattle, who joined with us to meet with Senator Murray to discuss the issue. This conversation is ongoing and Homeland Security has agreed to delay the phased implementation until 10/2015. After that point, it could again be a problem unless the state comes to some kind of agreement with Homeland Security.
On Congress’ first day in session this year, the new House passed a rule that prohibits SSA from shifting funds from the OASI to the DI trust fund to address an imbalance. As it stands, with no adjustment, the DI trust fund is scheduled to run out of full benefits in two years, and most beneficiaries would have their benefits reduced by up to 20% (based on incoming FICA tax receipts). Congress has routinely shifted money between these two funds as an administrative issue, eleven times in the past and most recently in 1994; this is the first time it’s been made a political issue. Many see it as an effort by Congress to hold Social Security hostage to efforts to “reform” it. Tom Price, the Budget Committee Chair in the House, spoke at a conservative conference this week (The Heritage Foundation), and supported various privatization plans or means-testing of benefits. It’s clear we will be entering a pitched battle on this issue. The Senate has made no move yet, but multiple organizations that support Social Security will be pushing back against this.
Ivan reports the Kitsap CLC signed a resolution supporting AFGE’s position on Vision 2025. In contrast with other Locals nationwide, we have moved forward on obtaining resolutions like this from several of our affiliated CLCs.
Carrie made a motion that this evening’s LBM minutes be approved as read and amended; Ardeth seconded. Motion passed.
Carrie moved to adjourn at 7:55pm. Motion passed.
Minutes written and submitted by Laura Novakoski, Secretary.