Over 800 Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) AFL-CIO Union/ Retiree members attended the first National ARA Convention at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. from Sept. 3-5, 2002. The headline speakers were Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and AFL-CIO President George Sweeney. The ARA delegates, including myself representing the APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter, elected George Kourpias of Machinists Union (IAM) as President and Ruben Burks of Auto Workers Union (UAW) as Secretary-Treasurer. Some twenty (20) other Congressional/Union speakers covered 2002 Election and Legislative issues surrounding Social Security, Medicare, and Prescription Drugs for active workers, seniors, and families. Go to
www.retiredamericans.org for details and ARA foot soldiers’ action pictures.

A rally of hundreds of union retirees at McPherson Park Square at 15th and K Streets, N.W. in the downtown area was held with several Congressional and Union leaders urging action on senior’s priority concerns, especially a prescription drug benefit inclusion for Medicare users. With the cooperation of the Washington, D.C. police, the street was closed for a huge march of hundreds of Retiree/Union activists behind the ARA banner to demonstrate in front of the PhRMA (Pharmaceutical and Research and Manufacturing) Hq. high rise building. PhRMA is the chief lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry with over 600 drug company lobbyists who meet with our 535 members of Congress in our nation’s Capitol to stop our efforts for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors. Their intent is evident, to keep the status quo or turn the current retiree programs over to the private insurance companies.

On Sat., Sept. 21 as the elected Officer representing the APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter, I attended my first quarterly Executive Board meeting of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FLARA) at the Holiday Inn in Daytona Beach with fifty (50) in attendance. President Tony Fransetta led a packed Florida legislative agenda with the adoption of a motion to support the Florida AFL-CIO list of endorsed candidates in 2002 Florida State elections. After the board meeting adjourned, hundreds of FLARA/Union members and citizens showed up at a Bill McBride for Governor Rally at the Daytona Beach Jetset Airport hangar. Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Tom Rossen, Lt. Governor Democratic candidate, encouraged the cheering throng to get out the vote on Tue., November 5, 2002. Go to
www.flara.org for other information or if you would like for your APWU Local Executive Board to get in on the real action by joining FLARA, contact Jack Gose at Jak.Gose@Excite.com

Our APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter luncheon held on Fri., Sept. 27 during the Fall Seminar at the Holiday Inn in Ft. Myers was a huge success with thirty (30) active Officers and members, Retirees, and family in attendance sharing Union/Retiree Solidarity. President Martha Shunn and Sec./Treas. Jeff Pearlman, Auxiliary Pres. Betty Baker and Secretary Darlene Seltz, Natl. APWU Southern Region Retiree Delegate Beth Cramer from Cape Coral and Eastern Region Ret. Delegate John Deeley from Maryland, Miami Area Local Retiree Counselor Rickie Mobley and VP Warren Pearlman, Clerk Dir. Sam Wood, Maint. Dir. Tony Neri, Legislative Dir. Tom Summers, OWCP Rep. Wayne Wetherington and Berne, and Chapter Sec./Treas. John Sardin, Jr. were invited speakers during the buffet luncheon at the hotel restaurant. Pres. Martha Shunn stated these retiree luncheons are a great idea, and she will try to add all the 2500 Florida APWU Retirees’ names who are paying $24.00 year union dues to Natl. APWU Retiree Dept. to the mailing list of the Florida Postal Worker newsletter just as soon as a disc can be received from the Natl. APWU Retiree Department Headquarters.

An organization meeting of the Southwest Florida Area Local Retiree Chapter was held at the same hotel from 6 pm to 8 pm with SWFAL Pres. Sam Wood and Chair Bob Seltz leading the presentation. Rickie Mobley and I assisted with Q & A in the absence of Natl. APWU Retiree Director John R. Smith whose flight to Florida was cancelled due to bad weather. The first reading of a proposed SWFAL Retiree Chapter Constitution was accomplished. Pres. Sam Wood has invited all APWU Retirees paying $24.00 year union dues residing in zip codes 339 and 341 to the next APWU SWFAL Retiree meeting at the Ft. Myers Union Hall in the daytime. The meeting was adjourned so everyone could watch the Florida Governor TV debate between Jeb Bush and Bill McBride from 8 pm to 9 pm.

Rickie Mobley, Retiree Counselor for the 4000 member Miami Area Local, was the guest speaker for the Retirement Planning class held on Sat., Sept. 28 in the Sanibel Room at the State Seminar. His presentation was really appreciated by the active postal members and retirees in attendance. Rickie has been to two 3-day Natl. APWU Retirement Counselor Seminars out of state taught by John R. Smith. Want to be a millionaire? Sign up for the next APWU Retirement Planning class sponsored by the APWU of Florida and receive your personal APWU Retirement Blue Book on FERS and CSRS.

Jack Gose, President
APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter

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