Chapters in Action
AFSCME Retiree Chapters in Action
In February, AFSCME’s Texas Retired Public Employee Council held a legislative forum in Austin to prepare for the state’s 2011 legislative session. More than 50 retiree members attended and heard presentations by State Sen. Kirk Watson (D) and Ann S. Fuelberg, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, (pictured above right with AFSCME Texas Retirees Coordinator Caryl Yontz and Sam Merrell, organizing committee chair). In addition, the retirees discussed the tough political climate in the Legislature, where the focus is on budget cuts, and developed a legislative strategy to protect retiree health benefits from expected attacks. Addressing other business, the retirees started planning for their founding convention, when they will be chartered as an official AFSCME retiree chapter.
Pennsylvania Retiree Chapter 13
Last fall, nearly 300 delegates from subchapters across the state turned out for Pennsylvania Chapter 13’s annual convention in Grantville.
Ohio Retiree Chapter 1184
The officers of Ohio Chapter 1184 take the oath of office at the chapter’s biennial convention, held in Columbus in September.
New Mexico Chapter 18
Chapter 18 held its election of officers in March. Barbara Pardo was elected chapter president; Tim Zagorski, vice president; Eva Lujan, recording secretary; and Loretta Naranjo Lopez, secretary-treasurer. Lopez is AFSCME’s endorsed candidate for a seat on the board of New Mexico’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).
Pardo (right) and Lopez (left) are pictured above with chapter board member Silviana Diaz D’Ouville at a recent Santa Fe rally in support of Wisconsin public employees. New Mexico employees and retirees have also been under the gun. From the opening of the 2011 legislative session in January, Chapter 18 retirees have been working hard to beat back changes in retirement benefits. Proposals include increasing the pension contributions of state workers and public school employees, while reducing employer contributions.
North Carolina Retiree Subchapter 165
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall addresses the annual convention of AFSCME’s North Carolina subchapter in October in Raleigh.
Retiree Chapters 1199 C and J
More than 500 retiree-members of Philadelphia District 1199C and New Jersey District 1199J traveled to Atlantic City last fall for their annual joint education conference. The day included speakers, a luncheon and some time at the hotel casino.
Braving a morning thunderstorm, more than 40 delegates attended the founding convention of AFSCME’s West Central Retiree Subchapter in Tampa. In addition to adopting a new subchapter constitution, the convetion delegates passed three resolutions pledging to defend Social Security, the Florida retiree health insurance subsidy and the Florida Retirement System’s defined benefit pension plan. The subchapter also elected its first slate of officers, pictured here, left to right: Treasurer Peggy Goodale, Trustee Ulises Del Rosario, Secretary Linda Rued, Vice President Barbara Giorgio and President Judy Drake (Trustee Brenda Horne is absent from photo).
Later this year, two additional founding conventions will be held for subchapters in West Palm Beach and Jacksonville – leading to the establishment of a statewide Florida Retired Public Employee Council/AFSCME Retiree Chapter 79.
In Memoriam: Norm Schut
In March, AFSCME Retirees lost one of our pioneers with the passing of Washington State’s Norm Schut at age 89. From 1952 to 1974, Schut was executive director of AFSCME Council 28 – the Washington Federation of State Employees. While representing workers, he began to see senior citizens as a largely untapped political resource. So, when he retired from AFSCME and state service, Schut founded the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington (RPEC). Since the late 1970s, RPEC has lobbied the Legislature on behalf of public retirees and has built an outstanding record of protecting and improving retirement benefits. Pointing to RPEC as a model, Schut encouraged the International union to build a nationwide retiree organization. RPEC was one of the original chapters that formed the AFSCME Retirees program in 1980.
In Washington State, Schut also founded the Senior Citizen Lobby, a broad-based organization that combined union retirees and other senior activists. He served as its president and chief lobbyist for seven years.
Norm Schut had a long and distinguished career in public service. Before he joined AFSCME, he worked for U.S. Representative Thor Tollefson of Tacoma and in the administration of Gov. Arthur Lange, where he helped establish the state civil service system. He also worked for Gov. Albert Rosellini and helped develop policies to eliminate political patronage.Toward the end of his life, Schut said that it was his years representing seniors that were the most rewarding. His volunteer work gave him “a feeling you just can’t get from a paid job.”