By Robby Stern and Will Parry
We’re still the same activist, feisty, out-front PSARA we’ve always been. That hasn’t changed. That’s not going to change.
All that’s changed, upon the unanimous recommendation of our Executive Board, and resoundingly ratified at our June 21 General Membership Meeting, is the name of our organization.
We’re now the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action. Note that the new name keeps our familiar and widely-respected PSARA initials.
The membership also ratified the changes needed to bring our By Laws into conformity with our new circumstances.
The change was made necessary when the national Alliance for Retired Americans determined that PSARA’s use of the name “Alliance for Retired Americans” and the associated logo was “in contravention of a licensing agreement between the Alliance for Retired Americans and the AFL-CIO, which holds the Trademark for the use of the name and logo.”
The national ARA advised us that the AFL-CIO has given permission to sub-license these marks to ARA’s state organizations (in our case, the Washington Alliance for Retired Americans) but that this sub-licensing does not extend to affiliates or subchapters of the state organization.
In a letter signed by ARA President Barbara Easterling and Executive Director Edward F. Coyle, detailed instructions are set forth for the establishment and operation of any “subchapter” affiliated with a state ARA. The letter specifies how any “subchapter” must be named and declares that “subchapters will NOT have the authority to set up a separate organization, collect money and solicit membership for the subchapter.” (Emphasis in original.)
The letter also states that “subchapters can NOT have their own separate program and/or activities — they must move in coordination on both timing and messaging with the WA State Alliance.” (Emphasis in original.)
The Executive Board determined that the restrictions on “subchapters” were inconsistent with the independence and progressive agenda that PSARA has established over our 12 years of existence. We have a cordial and supportive relationship with the Washington State ARA but we have maintained our own program, our own bank account and our valued relationship with PSARA members and allies. The Executive Board was unwilling give up our independence and make the changes necessary to become a “subchapter”. The PSARA membership at the June membership meeting adopted the recommendation of the Executive Board.
PSARA’s relations with the Washington State ARA have always been and will continue to be cooperative. We do not intend to let anything in the national ARA’s directive damage that relationship.
It is our intention to continue as an affiliate of the Washington State ARA as a community based organization with now more than 1,200 members. We will also continue our affiliation with other organizations with whom we are affiliated. We also may choose to affiliate with other organizations in the future if it will further our progressive goals .
PSARA and its predecessor organization, the Puget Sound Council of Senior Citizens, have a history of active participation in civic life going back to 1981. We proudly affiliated with the national ARA upon its founding in 2001. At that time, the national president of the ARA, George Kourpias, personally presented PSARA with our charter at a founding meeting.
We were stunned that after our twelve years of loyal affiliation with ARA and our exemplary support for its goals and those of the national AFL-CIO, that the ARA and the AFL-CIO would decide, in the midst of a critical election year, with the integrity of Social Security and Medicare on the line, to defend the sanctity of trade marks.
We are undertaking the legal and organizational steps made necessary by the ARA directive. But our focus remains on our mission. We fully intend to move on and to continue to build our organization and the progressive movement with which we are aligned.