COLUMBUS, Ohio - Meeting in Columbus, Ohio on April 9, the 300 delegates to the Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) greeted the president's announcement that his proposed budget would propose cuts to Social Security with outrage.
After many angry comments from the floor, a proposal that Ohio ARA support a petition against the Ryan budget was changed to support for a new petition that demanded no cuts to Social Security. That resolution was adopted unanimously.
"Nobody likes that Ryan budget," stated Keith Bailey, IUE retiree from Dayton, "but we felt we had to state that we weren't anyone's pawn. We don't care who proposes it, if they want to cut the most successful federal program in our nation's history, that didn't add one penny to the deficit, then we'll stand up together and tell them---no way!"
The resolution opposing any cuts to Social Security also stated that the cap on Social Security taxes, now at $113,000, should be eliminated, so that the wealthy pay their fair share. The resolution was sent to the president, as well as all of Ohio's congressional and senate reps.
President Obama's budget proposal, which contains proposals to cut the size cost of living adjustments to seniors receiving Social Security has been greeted with anger and frustration by retirees, unionists, and many others. It was announced that ARA, AARP and other retiree groups had dropped off petitions opposing those cuts, signed by over two million, at the White House earlier that day.
"Retiree security has become a misnomer," said Norm Wernet, Ohio ARA President. "Unfortunately, the president's proposal feeds into the lie being pushed by corporations and Republicans in congress that Social Security is part of the problem. It isn't! We've paid into Social Security, just like we've paid into our pensions, only to have many of them stolen. The president has done some good things, and we support them, but his proposal to cut Social Security would hurt retirees, hurt retiree security, undermine that program and would hurt the entire economy. We will oppose any proposal that does that!"
Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga thanked the delegates for helping defeat Senate Bill 5, the GOP-backed proposal that would've curtailed public worker's bargaining rights in the state. The effort was led by a huge labor-led coalition, called 'We Are Ohio.' "That fight," Burga stated, "was forged through struggle and powered by unity!"
"We are faced to a series of new, difficult struggles, even coming off the massive victory, defeating SB 5 this past year."
"The New Deal created a huge and prosperous middle class, but all those gains are now under attack by corporations and Republicans in congress, being led by outright lunatics. They've worked overtime, one day, one bill, one election, one court case and one issue at a time, to undermine every gain working people have made in the past century of struggles."
"These attacks," Burga said, "are a result of a federal government that has implemented globalization on corporate terms, making working people pay for it all. When Reagan fired the traffic controllers it set the tone. Then NAFTA cost us over a million good paying jobs, deregulation allowed financial corporations to raid worker's pensions, social programs have been cut. The only way we can fight them is though developing strong unity and reaching far outside our ranks for allies."
Burga cited the next big struggle, this time against a right wing proposal for a so-called "right-to-work" initiative sponsored by Tea Party elements. While a real danger, Burga pointed out that "it gives us the opportunity to talk with millions we otherwise wouldn't be able to speak with about the tremendous benefits of belonging to unions."
He stated that the Ohio AFL-CIO has set up a dozen phone centers already and is planning 17 regional meetings to build the fight against the right to work for less proposal.
"We need your help again," he called. "We are over a million strong and we speak for the interests of the 99 percent. The polls are against us now, as they always are at the beginning of our fights, but with your help we'll beat this back also and build a new society we all can be proud of!"
Photo: Ohio AFL-CIO Facebook page