Posts Tagged ‘PSARA’

Changes in the USA, Changes in PSARA

Monday, January 5th, 2015

By Robby Stern

On Saturday, December 6, I attended a march that was primarily organized through social media and was led by students from the University of Washington and the Black Student Union at Garfield High School. The theme was “Black Lives Matter.” Speeches stressed that significant steps must be taken to address the treatment of African Americans in our communities by the police. Also highlighted was the growing economic inequality in our country that has hit hardest in the African American community and is being keenly felt by people of color throughout our country.

It was a sad irony that an article had appeared in the Seattle Times that morning about a 23-year-old African American woman who had been intoxicated and involved in some kind of domestic skirmish. A Seattle police officer had arrested and handcuffed her, and as he was pushing her into his police car, she kicked at him. The officer then proceeded to slug her in the eye, while she was handcuffed, doing significant and possibly long-term damage to the woman. The City Attorney had recommended that felony assault charges be brought against the officer, but the County Prosecutor announced that no charges would be brought.

The killings of, among others, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice, are murders that should be prosecuted. At the same time, it was inspiring to witness the young leaders and the huge presence of young people at the rally and march at Garfield. A new crop of smart, talented, and spirited young progressive leaders is emerging, and we can look forward to following their leadership.

While marching, I was talking with Steve Ludwig, a PSARA member and a friend from Seattle SDS in the 1960s. I was remembering with Steve how we had come to understand the Marxist concept of the capitalist need for a “reserve army of labor.” As militant opponents of the Vietnam War, we also developed an understanding that many of the soldiers who were drafted to fight on the front lines were drafted from the “reserve army of labor.” This reserve labor force was needed to fight the imperial wars, to serve as a threat to employed workers who are demanding higher wages and working conditions, and also to be available when the cyclical economic system required more workers.

What has changed since that era is the deindustrialization of our country as a result of trade agreements and the movement of production to low wage and often repressive countries. There is still the need for a “reserve army of labor,” but there are also now whole layers of humanity in our country who are no longer needed by the plutocrats to serve in the traditional role of the “reserve army…” They are essentially turned over to the police forces and private security forces and prisons of our country to control. The prisons are filled with these human beings, often people of color, who are deemed expendable by our vicious, predatory economic system. The killings and the brutality by the police and the mass incarcerations are fundamentally a result of this economic system (which is also poisoning our environment and threatening the very existence of our planet). These plutocrats use racism to divide us.

PSARA will work in solidarity with those who are challenging this inhumane approach to human life.

Changes in PSARA

PSARA has experienced a significant increase in our membership. Additionally, we are occupying a leading role in the fight for retirement security in our region and even nationally, and have also become an important voice in a variety of important progressive issues. We continue to do this work primarily with committed volunteers. However, revenue has not kept up with our growing expenses.

Several decisions were made at our December membership meeting that our members who were not present should know about.

1. We added a new Vice President position. We now have an Administrative Vice President (Maureen Bo), a Membership Vice President (Susan Levy) (the new position), and an Outreach Vice President position that will be shared by Vivian Lee and Mildred Ollee. The decision to add a Membership Vice President was made to lighten the work load on the officers.

2. Members attending the December meeting voted unanimously to increase the annual dues. The change takes effect in January, 2015, and will impact individual members when the dues most of you pay annually expire. The new dues structure is:

Annual dues – $20

Living lightly – $15 (or whatever you can afford)

Supporting – $50

Sponsoring – $100 (or more)

3. We are in the process of creating a 501c3, the PSARA Education Fund, which will be responsible for paying the costs of producing The Retiree Advocate. If you itemize your deductions and wish to take an IRS deduction for your dues or contributions for the Retiree Advocate, you can write your checks to the PSARA Education Fund beginning January, 2015.

The officers and executive board of PSARA are deeply appreciative of the support and volunteer efforts of many of our members. Together we are working to make our world a little better place for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to follow. We are engaged in a worthy task.

I wish all of you a healthy and fulfilling 2015!!

Thank You Anita and Mary!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Anita Nath and Mary Anderson are leaving the PSARA Executive Board for the time being.

Mary represents PSARA with the Seattle/King County Aging and Disability Advisory Committee as well as actively lobbying elected officials on behalf of PSARA. Not a retiree, Mary’s work has become more demanding and she feels that she needs to devote more time to her business. Mary will be performing some administrative functions in the PSARA office that are necessary to maintain the organization. She also plans to continue her activism in lobbying legislators and other elected officials on behalf of PSARA.

Anita was the youngest member of PSARA’s Executive Board! She is now in law school at Seattle University and holding down a half-time job with the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union (UNITE HERE Local 8). Anita has been a spark plug in talking to young people about why they should care about Social Security and Medicare. She expresses a lot of love for PSARA and will continue as the administrator of PSARA’s facebook page.

We are deeply appreciative of the commitment of these two smart and committed women!

In February, we will introduce our new Executive Board members.

Thirty Years of Advocacy

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

By Mike Andrew 

Readers who keep an eye on details might have noticed that with this January issue, we’ve made the transition to Volume XXX of the Retiree Advocate.

That means that the Advocate has been around for 30 years. That’s a remarkable achievement for any independent publication, but even more remarkable for one like the Advocate that relies solely on subscriptions and doesn’t accept advertising of any kind.

We owe our success primarily to you, our readers, who have supported us for 30 years. But we also need to acknowledge two outstanding working class journalists who guided the Advocate through its formative years and shaped it into the publication we know today.

Max Roffman (1910-2003) edited the Advocate even before it was the Advocate. He came to Seattle in 1984 from Hawaii, where he’d spent 21 years organizing the United Public Workers Union (UPW), and another 10 working for the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Hawaii.

Max also produced the “Rice and Roses” labor program on Hawaiian public television from 1975 to 1981.

When he came to Seattle, Max became a leader of the Puget Sound Council of Senior Citizens (PSCSC), and was the first editor of Senior News – the predecessor of the Retiree Advocate.

It was the middle of the Reagan years, and there was plenty to write about, although the basic issues were the same as the ones we tackle today – preserving and strengthening social security, guaranteeing health care for all Americans, ensuring that workers got a bigger share of the wealth we create.

In 1994, Max retired as editor, although he continued to write for the publication, and Will Parry (1920-2013) took on his editorial responsibilities.

Will had been a writer for The New World and People’s World, until 1956, when the McCarthy persecutions deprived him of his ability to make a living as a journalist. Will then went to work for a box-making company and became a leader of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW) Local 817.

Will went on to edit the AFT-WA newsletter, and when he retired, became involved in the PSCSC and Senior News. He became editor in 1994. In those days, the publication was only a four-pager that came out every other month, and was written mainly by Max and Will.

In 1998, the Senior News became a monthly and expanded to six pages.

The National Council of Senior Citizens was relaunched as the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) in 2001, and Senior News became the Retiree Advocate in 2002.

Will retired as editor in February 2013, and died the following May 13, having seen the Advocate through a period of sustained growth.

The Advocate as it exists today is a tribute to Will’s leadership. When he retired, I told him that if I followed his example I’d work on the publication for the next 30 years – by which time I thought I’d be pretty good at it.

The Advocate hasn’t come this far without the constant support of our readers. Many of you have written for the publication, and all of you have generously given time and money to keep us in print.

If we want to continue publishing for another 30 years – and why not! – we still need your help. Please renew your subscriptions if they’re due to expire. You can also give a subscription to a friend or neighbor, and help expand the circle of readers that’s been growing for the past 30 years.