UAW Local 848-Retirees Corner
Local 848's Retirees hold their covered-dish luncheon at 11 AM each Second Thursday at the union hall. Everybody who retired as a union member, and their spouses, are invited. We usually hold a short discussion of retiree issues before we enjoy our meal.
The union local supplies the main course.
Local 848's retirees are active in our union local. We also participate with the UAW Area Council and with the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans.
Retirees have a lot of problems that we can solve if we work together. Please join us!
For updates on Texas retiree issues, click here.
For a look at Local 848's past, click here.
Retirees Reach Out
Seven of Local 848's finest retirees voluntarily gathered at the hall on September 14 to stuff and mail over 1,200 letters to Vought/Triumph retirees. Charles Edick, Gene Lantz, Joe and Linda Silva, Gary Underwood, and Harrold and Pat Zoch put in a long six hours on the project.
The letters congratulated the retirees on receiving their annual union-negotiated bonus and asked them to fill out a blue card for a monthly pledge to the UAW V-CAP program. It is true that retirees and all members can make individual contributions, but the monthly pledges actually raise a lot more money. A simple pledge of $5/month, for example, adds up to $60/year!
Since Local 848 became the first and only aerospace union to negotiate a pension deduction program, we've raised about 6 times as much per year as we ever raised before! It would be easy to envision raising far more money if a larger percentage of retirees were participating.
The blue cards are always available at the hall, but the last three questions are difficult and unnecessary. Local 848's V-CAP Rep, Billy Brown, is going to try to get the cards simplified.
The text of the letter is below:
September 14, 2012
Dear union brothers and sisters,
You'll be glad to know that those who retired from Vought received their union-negotiated September bonus. Even though troubles are always with us, your union is working hard to keep the jobs in Grand Prairie and to continue doing our best for retirees.
You and your spouse are always invited to the retiree luncheons every 2nd Thursday at 11 AM. You are welcome to bring a covered dish, but the local union pays for the meat. We always have a great time with old friends, and we catch up on information that concerns us. We also plan outings and get discounts.
There is a lot that you can do to help. Local 848 has a pension-deduction program for our V-CAP political program. If you read the papers at all, you already know how important it is that we be able to fight the political attacks against retirees. If you can contribute, please fill out the enclosed card the best you can. The only vital information is your signature and the amount you would like to give per month. The last three blanks of the UAW card have been a problem for some folks. Just put "848" where it says "local," ignore the one about "Int'l Area Council" and put your clock number, if you have it, where it asks for your "Pension File or Retirement No." Please call us at 972-264-2431 with any questions. Send the card as soon as you can to the union hall, 2218 E Main, Grand Prairie, TX, 75050.
Come on to the next retiree luncheon, October 11. Bring your spouse. We'd be so pleased to have you!
Gene Lantz, Retiree Chairman
Billy Brown, V-CAP Representative
Romeo Munoz, UAW 848 President
Retirees Gary Underwood, Joe Silva, and Harrold Zoch
help stuff, address, and stamp envelopes for the retiree V-CAP mail-out.
Local 848 Retirees Recognize Old Friends
On April 12, Brother Joe Silva rang out a special welcome for three men who were attending their first retiree luncheon. Silva was one of the "mighty 65" dedicated unionists who were fired for union activities during our 1984-85 fight with LTV management. He said that William Palmore, John Holmes, and Sammy Matthews had been good fighters within the plant while Joe Silva and the other firees were standing outside.
Holmes and Palmore were NC Machinists in the high bay area and
members of the infamous "F Troop" of union supporters. They wore red
buttons with white "F's" on their hats. As far as is known, the meaning
of "F Troop" was never revealed. Union members tried just about
everything in that long, dreadful, but successful fight for union
The retirees heard a special presentation in song from Civil Rights Committee Chair Johnnie Welch. She wowed them with the old gospel song, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee." The retirees then chowed down on a delicious barbecue luncheon.
Local 848’s February meeting, like all of those since September, was
well attended and upbeat. We decided to send our retiree chairman, who
is also the President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, to a
national retiree conference. Bad news was next.
Whoever is in charge of health care premiums and pension payments at Triumph has apparently made a number of serious blunders. In their February pension statements, several retirees at our meeting noticed that major deductions had been made in error. Several reported that their health care deduction had risen by $85, which is an unfortunate part of the union’s 1992 contract, so nothing can be done for them. But other retirees, even those who retired before that contract, were being unfairly penalized in their February pensions. Local 848’s Benefits Coordinator, Craig Melton, had told us that a good many retirees in North Texas and even in other states were ringing his phone off the hook to complain. Melton hopes that all the discrepancies will be fixed by the March payments. Meantime, retirees who suspect that their pensions have been reduced illegally should write down their names, clock numbers, and the amounts being deducted as monthly health care costs and send it to him at the hall. The address is 2218 E Main, Grand Prairie, TX 75050.
There was no panic. It is a testament to Craig Melton and to UAW 848 that our retirees fully expect the union to make sure that they are not taken advantage of.
The retirees then went on to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Mabel Casey had prepared presents for everyone for the occasion. We acknowledged our birthdays and anniversaries, had our door prizes, and then cleared the way for a short but very serious discussion about voter suppression.
Texas politicians are trying to take away voter rights through unfair redistricting and with a new “Voter ID” law. Both of these efforts are being reviewed by federal authorities before being put into effect. The National Alliance for Retired Americans is calling for all of us to join the fight against voter suppression, and the Texas Alliance is already working on plans.
Local 848 retirees older than 65 were asked to use the Texas vote-by-mail system, to learn how it works, and to recommend it to other people who are over 65, disabled, or who will be out of their home county on election day. Each of those categories of voters are allowed to vote by mail. The “Voter ID” law does not affect the laws on voting by mail.
Linda Silva, who is already well versed on voting by mail, helped explain the process to our retirees individually.
2012 is Full of Opportunities
The coming year will be “full of opportunities” according to Jim Rivers, Legislative Director for Communications Workers of America Local 6201 in Fort Worth. He spoke at Local 848’s retiree luncheon on December 8th. Rivers began with a brief look at the world situation. He said that there were strikes and protests going on all over the world, and that they were caused by the same problems that we have in America. Among those problems are efforts to undermine or get rid of retiree benefits.
Rivers said that the main problem in America is jobs. If people don’t have jobs, then payroll taxes won’t be collected and social programs like Social Security and Medicare will face tough times. But on our side of the fight, we have the numbers, Rivers said. “Look at Egypt! Look at the size of their mass outpourings,” he told the retirees. Rivers said that big American corporations are sitting on $2 trillion that could be invested in important projects and good jobs. “If corporations won’t do it,” Rivers said, “the government should step in!”
The Communications Workers leader then went over the last couple of national elections. Americans won big in 2008, eh said, and excellent pro-labor legislation resulted. In 2010, we lost mightily, and working people have been under attack since then. The upcoming election year holds great promise, but people need to get involved and then work on getting everyone else involved, he said. Retirees responded to Brother Rivers with a few piercing questions and then a mighty round of applause.
At the same meeting, retirees decided to start having stretching opportunities before our 11 AM starting time. We also decided to make name tags available to everyone when they come in so that we can get to know one another more easily. By a big majority, the retirees decided that 11:15 AM is the cutoff to get tickets for door prizes. We welcome latecomers, but they won’[t get a ticket for prizes.
As a special treat arranged by Financial Secretary Dale Johns, Christmas poinsettias were added to our usual door prizes. Also thanks to the Financial Secretary, the main courses of ham and turkey were delicious!
Lupe Gomez with her poinsettia
Retiree Meetings Just Get Better
Local 848's retirees continued to improve their attendance at the November 10th luncheon. They were especially glad to welcome their Sergeant at ARms, James Lambert back after an injury had kept him away for several months.
Former State Legislator Chris Turner spoke on the importance of Veterans' Day. During the Q&A session, he also filled the retirees in on important developments concerning Voter ID laws and redistricting.
Chaplain Gene Cates led a special presentation on Veterans' Day, then our many veterans came forward to receive the local's new sew-on patches and statements honoring veterans. Because there were too many veterans to fit in one picture, they were photographed as World War II veterans, Korean era veterans, and then all the more recent veterans.
Retiree meeting in progress Veterans - Korea Veterans - WWII
Vought Retirees Get Flu Shots
The October 13th retiree luncheon happily acknowledged the success of
the Vought Negotiating Committee on getting the company to offer free
flu shots to retirees for the first time in several years. Retirees can
go in the Flagpole Gate, where the guards will tell them where to park
and issue a temporary badge. Then they go into the medical clinic to get
their free shot.
The retirees were inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and decided to explore the possibility of creating their own banner that would proudly proclaim "We are 99%." The "99%" indicates those of us who are not bankers nor wall street speculators.
Brother Joe Silva said he was glad to hear that Local 848 is keeping up with the auto companies on collecting retiree dues and V-CAP donations, but he believes we can do much better. Local 848 retirees encourages all retirees to make sure they their monthly pension statements reflect a $2 donation for union dues. If not, they should contact the local at 972-264-2431 and get a card sent out to them.
Brother Gene Cates volunteered to get us a benefits expert for our November meeting. The Medicare open enrollment period runs until December 7th, and the Alliance for Retired Americans offers a way to evaluate plans at this wet site: http://bit.ly/raCkB3. Hopefully, we will be able to unsnarl all the changes in government health care benefits. In November, we will celebrate Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. Turkey and ham will be the main dishes. A big turnout is wanted and expected.
After the meeting, several of the retiree activists gathered in our conference room for a conference call with the Alliance for Retired Americans in Washington DC. They decided on a press conference defending Social Security at Congressman Jeb Hensarling's Dallas office on October 27.
Below is a picture of the banner:
Retirees Support V-CAP
Local 848’s retirees heard V-CAP rep Billy Brown at our regular 2nd Thursday retiree luncheon. Brown said that Local 848 is the top political fund raiser in UAW aerospace, and that the retirees have helped tremendously. We are the only aerospace union that has negotiated the ability to have small donations taken out of our pensions by Vought. Even though most of the donors only give $2 or $3 per month, it adds up very well. Of course, the two retirees who give $25/month help even more!
Brown went over the origin of the Volunteer Community Action (V-CAP) program. It came about after the government prohibited unions from participating in politics. They had to set up political committees that raised and spent their own money, so that no dues money ever goes to candidates, no matter how much they may help us or how badly we may need their help. Locals raise money by selling raffle tickets, but the biggest and most reliable source of political funds comes from payroll or pension deductions.
Since the pension deductions program is so vital, retiree activists agreed to meet at the hall at 10 AM on August 18 to do a mailing to all our retirees. Everybody is invited.
Local 848 activists will be selling V-CAP “Cruise” raffle tickets everywhere over the next few months. Retirees started in July!
Retirees Take Action!
At our July 14 luncheon, Local 848’s retirees held a rousing discussion of the attacks against Social Security and other retiree benefits, but we didn’t stop at talking!
Wallace Manuel sold V-CAP cruise tickets. Local 848 retirees have an edge on all the other aerospace locals because we are the only ones that get small donations taken out of their pension checks. Consequently, we tend to raise more money for union political action than other locals. Manuel told the retirees, “We in America know that money talks and the other stuff walks.” An effort will be made to reach out to retirees by U.S. mail before the first of September, because many more retirees might be helping us raise political money.
Joe Silva pointed out that unscrupulous politicians are calling our Social Security an “entitlement” instead of what it is, our money that we deposited out of our own paychecks. “Our trust fund for Social Security is not any part of the federal problem,” he said. He added that politicians who call it an “entitlement” are guilty of a “bald faced bold lie!”
During the discussion, retirees refuted the “entitlement” lie and several other nonsensical excuses that politicians are using to try to take away the workers’ rightful benefits. Social Security is not insolvent. Even if it were, it would be easy to fix by requiring rich people to pay on it beyond the present “cap” of about their first $106,200 of annual earnings. Under today’s production methods, there is more than enough wealth being produced to provide for decent retirements. This country, despite all the lies, is not poor.
Neal Sloan encouraged everybody to participate in telephoning their Senators. He actually helped several retirees make the calls from our hall. Ed Reach brought pen and paper to every retiree, and a good number of them finished two letters, one for each Senator, before leaving.
Some of the letters were short and hard-hitting, such as this one from Mable Jones: “I ask you not to raid our Social Security to give others a tax break.”
Gene Cates wrote longer letters, and included this: “I am a lifelong Texan. 76 years old. I was one year old when they created Social Security. Have never seen a Senate that has had enough guts to try to remake the Social Security fund. We haven’t had a raise in two years. Make no doubt about this -- the Social Security fund is solvent.”
After a good period of discussion, socializing, and political action, we chowed down on fried chicken and delicious covered dishes brought from our homes.
The President of the Dallas AFL-CIO, Nancy Hall, expects to come to Local 848's September 21 meeting to explain why everybody must oppose the so-called "Colombia Free Trade agreement." She recently returned from a fact-finding trip there sponsored by the National AFL-CIO. More about the trip
President Bush is hoping to pass yet another "free trade" pact, this one with Colombia, before he leaves office. Nancy Hall can explain exactly why all legitimate U.S. and Colombian workers' organizations are dead set against it. She also drives home the importance of political activity by workers in the United States if anything good is going to happen.
On August 20, Hall took her message to the airwaves on the "Workers Beat" program that is presented 8-9 AM every Wednesday on KNON radio, 89.3 FM and www.knon.org.
Dallas Retirees Cooperate to Win Health Care Reform
Congresswoman Johnson accepted a tribute from Maralyn Hamaker
Retirees from all over North Texas cooperated to celebrate Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's lifelong commitment to health care reform at the Alliance/AFT hall in Dallas on August 21. The bills for the event were shared by members of the Retired Members Committee of the Communication Workers of America, Alliance/American Federation of Teachers, United Auto Workers Local 848, and Jobs with Justice.
The event was chaired by AFT leader Judy Bryant. Aimee Bolender, President of the Local, welcomed the group. Gene Lantz showed the 11 minute introductory video for the Alliance for Retired Americans and conducted a discussion on the importance of organizing for such legislative goals as the Employee Free Choice Act. Congresswoman Johnson gave a thorough analysis of the need for health care reform and how to accomplish it through Congress. Some of her comments were recorded for the "Workers Beat" radio program that is presented from 8 to 9 AM every Wednesday on KNON radio, 89.3 FM and www.knon.org.
Sister Maralyn Hamaker, a retired teacher, then gave a short tribute. Congresswoman Johnson answered questions from the audience and made herself available for individual interaction.
Major Victory for Raytheon Retirees As Court Orders Health Benefits Restored
Retirees of Raytheon Missile Systems scored a major victory recently, as a U.S. District Court in Arizona ordered the company to restore health care benefits to them and their dependents. The ruling came on a class action lawsuit filed by International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 933 on behalf of all IAM retirees who have worked at Raytheon since 1990, after they found health benefits slashed. In a case which will set legal precedent for other workers whose benefits are unilaterally terminated by their employers, the corporation must do more than recommence coverage for employees who were eligible under collective bargaining agreements made between 1990 and 1999. It must also reimburse the hundreds of retirees who were forced to pay premiums out of pocket while the lawsuit was pending. "This is not just a victory for Raytheon employees, but for all retirees," said George J. Kourpias, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans and former President of the IAM. "When workers fight for fair agreements and make sacrifices to continue receiving these benefits into retirement, they deserve the affordable health care they have been promised."
Brother Jim McCasland, Financial Secretary of the Dallas AFL-CIO, announced that the Labor Day breakfast was the biggest ever with a crowd approaching 500! Jobs with Justice had added 12 religious and community leaders to the many unionists in attendance.
The main speaker was Senate Candidate Rick Noriega, who began by thanking the people who served the food at the union-organized Sheraton Grand Hotel in Irving. To download photos from the event, click here. Double click on the photo you want to get it full-sized. Then right click on it and select "save picture."
Other photos came from the Tarrant County picnic and the Dallas Democrats' free picnic. Both were successful events.
Rick Noriega exchanged greetings with theologian Dr. Joerg Rieger
Jobs with Justice activists promoted the Employee Free Choice Act
Here, State Representative Lon Burnam signs the postcard/petition
Spanish language reporter Luis Lara interviewed Nancy Hall about her trip to his home nation, Colombia
A high point of the Dallas breakfast came right at the beginning with the eloquent prayer by United Way's labor liaison, Charles Whitaker. It was also read on KNON radio, 89.3 FM, on Wednesday, September 3. A reprint is below:
Lord God, our creator, thank you for this assembly of unionists and allies. Thank you for this movement where we can travel to distant destinations and be called Brother or Sister by a fellow union member we have never met. Father, bless those that are here today, but are not sure exactly why they are here. Enlighten them Lord, help them to understand the need for working people to have the right to come together collectively.
Lord, we pray for those separated brethren that are dedicated Union members but choose not to belong to this council.
We pray for a revival of united unionism, a coming together of working people, a rededication to principles of fairness and justice in the workplace. God, thank you for our brave and enlightened forebearers. Help us never forget those men and women that were labeled socialists, communists, just because they wanted a better life. They were condemned because of their language, they were condemned because of their color, they were condemned because of their poverty, they were condemned because they organized, and they were condemned by another class of people that didn't wish for them to succeed.
Lord, bless and hold close to you those that are working today. Bless those Americans that keep this country going. In spite of what politicians may do, in spite of injustices they encounter, in spite of harassment they receive, thank you for the American worker. And, Father, we pray for the day when women in the workplace are compensated fairly for their work.
Lord, we even pray you touch the hearts of those that would prefer this meeting to be unlawful. We are reminded of your proverb, "The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous." Lord, make us righteous in your service; help us through your spirit to render unwavering dedication to you. We pray for your guidance as we serve you and as we serve others.
John Kennedy said, " ... history will be the final judge of our deeds ... " Lord, let us leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren, a legacy that leaves for them a Labor movement intact.
Lord God, Bless those men and women in our military. Gird them with wisdom and might so they are able to endure the great hardships they face. Please Lord, keep them safe and bring them home.
We have been
given the duty of taking care of your Earth Father. What wondrous beauty you
have brought. Help us to take no more from it than we give back.
Lord, you are a miraculous God. We know hard work is required of us this November, but a miracle here and there would certainly be appreciated. Bless and guide our endorsed candidates this fall. Keep them in your will and the will of the people.
Father, bless the hands that prepared this food and bless those that work today to serve us. When they return home today to their families, Father, let them be able to say; "I was treated with dignity and respect today by my fellow Brothers and Sisters.
And Lord, help me
to remember to pray more in private than in public. All this we pray in your
Holy name. And all the people said, "Amen."