28 August 2007

Protect public workers' retirement

(Perhaps slightly off-topic at first glance, but not really in the end b/c of how many scientists are public employees either through public institutions of higher education, or through national laboratories.)

"Long ago in days of yore it all began with..."

...some politicians on Capitol Hill deciding that if state and federal employees and their families got Social Security benefits in addition to their pension or retirement investment that it was "double dipping," never mind that everyone else in the US is entitled to both a pension and Social Security benefits, never mind that Social Security is their own money in both cases.

This affects ALL state and federal employees - not just me and all public higher ed workers from faculty to facilities, not just my mother (hoping to retire in 2 years) and all public K-12 teachers and employees from secretaries to security, but even firemen, cops, many EMS workers, garbage men, and so on. Of course there probably won't be any Social Security left by the time I'm eligible for it, but think of all the Baby Boomers out there who have put in 40 or 50 years of faithful service to the public (around 50 in the case of my mother), fighting fires and crayons, who are now told as they approach retirement that they deserve less than the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Because of this legislation, the widows of firefighters killed in 9/11 were likely told six years ago they will not, in fact, receive the Social Security benefits that their spouse earned with his or her sacrifice.

So what can you do about it? There are two pieces of federal legislation that my union (the NEA, National Education Association) is working to repeal, called GPO and WEP (Government Pension Offsets and Windfall Elimination Program). The way they are doing this is by bringing pressure to bear on Congressmen nationwide through petitions and letters. What you can do about this is to send a letter online. The letter is already written for you, so it will take less than 10 minutes of your time to fill in your personal information, and you'll be making a difference. Tell your friends and neighbors to participate too.

If you want more information, here's a summary from my State-level union. Spread the word.

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