Safeguarding retirement security

On Oct. 17, the Alliance for Retired Americans held an annual daylong meeting: “Preparing for Retirement Symposium: Individual and Collective Efforts.” The event brought together government officials, labor movement leaders, policy experts, Social Security and pension advocates, academics, attorneys and economists to discuss retirement security and social insurance issues. AFT and ARA members who attended the in-person and virtual event learned about ways for individuals and the government to take action that ensures retirement security for all.

Photo of stacked documents. The top of a social security card is visible along with a medical insurance card.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, speaking to retired union members at the symposium, asked the question: “What do we do in the next year in this incredibly divisive moment?”

Weingarten called on retirees in the labor movement to carry a message to their peers and fellow retirees that what our country needs right now are pro-worker, pro-democracy, pro-public education candidates who will protect the foundations of our society, such as Social Security and Medicare, that so many older Americans rely on for a secure retirement.

“We need to be the communicators. We need to be the interpreters,” Weingarten continued. “Our ‘daytime army,’ our retirees that we represent—in every single one of our unions, we know their names, we know how to reach them. They need to be the army of communicators talking about this work.”

AFT Retirees division staffer Calvin MacDowell gave a presentation on how AFT affiliates are using pre-retirement workshops to ensure their members have the expert resources they need to navigate the confusing transition to retirement as well as to recruit newly retiring members to join their retiree programs.

Reports from recent AFT Retirees campaign activities in Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Puerto Rico served to demonstrate how regularly recruiting new retiree members at these workshops can lead to a program that is growing and engaging in activism, and that benefits retirees as well as in-service members. Pre-retirement workshops help to build the kind of “daytime army” that can be the effective communicators Weingarten calls for in this moment.

Other speakers included Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond, ARA President Robert Roach Jr., and officials from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Video from the event can be accessed here.

[AFT Retirees]