NORTHERN CALIFORNIA TEACHERS REACH OUT

Join With Association To Repeal WEP/GPO

NOVEMBER 2009: The world is truly flat when it comes to modern economics, as well as politics. With the information age of computers providing instant access to information, partnerships and coalitions are being formed that were unlikely just a few years ago.

This summer the Association was contacted by The Grassroots Committee for Social Security Fairness , which is a Northern California based teachers' organization formed this spring. Their goal, like that of our Association, is to repeal the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO).

Counting over 2,000 members and rapidly growing, the Committee is comprised of both retired and active teachers from the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to the California Retired Teachers Association, the group also includes both statewide teachers unions.

The group's lobbying effort is led by retired teachers Bonnie Cediel Henderson and Laurie Matthews. Both Matthews and Henderson have recently travelled to Washington, D.C. to lobby on behalf of a full repeal of the WEP and GPO.

"We started as a true grassroots organization and had no way of knowing what type of interest we would get. In May, we held our first rally, which we put together by emailing our collective contact lists," said Henderson. "To our surprise, over 500 people showed up at the rally. In just a few months, we now have over 2,000 members!

"One of the things, that we quickly realized, is that we are not going to be able to change these laws by ourselves. But, by working with the Mass. Retirees and coordinating our efforts, we can put together a national coalition that can have a big impact in Washington."

2010 Remains Target

As we have been reporting, 2010 is now the target for action on both the WEP and GPO. We anticipate that these issues will be included in the larger debate over Social Security reform.

"The repeal bills that are pending in the House and Senate are useful to gauge the support we will have in each chamber next year. We now have 299 of the 435 members of the House cosponsoring HR235," said Association Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. "Where the challenge remains is in the US Senate. Traditionally they are a tough group, but that is where the value of these national groups is very important."

Like Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are strong supporters of WEP/GPO repeal. They are working with their colleagues to expand the base of support in the Senate beyond the 28 cosponsors now committed to S484.

"The support is there in the House, but we have work to do in the Senate," confirms Laurie Matthews. "It is frustrating at times, but I have no doubt that by working together, we will gain the support that we need to finally get these issues addressed. I'm just happy to know that we are not in this fight alone."

Laurie, with over 5 million retired and active public employees across America hurt by the WEP or GPO, you are certainly not alone!

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