North Texas takes stand to save the right to retire

DALLAS – North Texas activists this week protested the dumping of pension and health care rights.

On the morning of August 14, they met in front of a downtown Verizon store here. The day was the 77th anniversary of Social Security and three days after contract expiration for Communications Workers of America Local 6171. Verizon negotiators, who have hard-lined Communications Workers and Electricians locals in the Eastern United States for over a year, agreed to a short contract extension with Local 6171, which covers Texas. Even though the workers have given the company consistent profits, management wants to take away health care rights and terminate their pension program.

Over the past month in North Texas, two major corporations have already terminated pension programs: Lockheed Aircraft and EFH Energy. American Airlines has been trying for several months to get out of their pension obligations through bankruptcy. Thousands of North Texans have already lost their pension rights.

Several letters to the editor in the Dallas paper have protested the general trend to take away the right to retire. They were particularly fired up when presidential candidate Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan’s budget ideas would undermine Social Security as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

Romney and Ryan claim that their proposals would not detract from present retirees, but only lower benefits for younger people. The North Texas protesters called that maneuver an attempt to divide seniors from their own children and grandchildren.

The Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, one of 32 state affiliates of the American ARA, originated the call for a protest. Communications Workers activists from several locals, as well as other concerned North-Texans, joined them.

Spokespersons were interviewed in Spanish and English. Similar activities were held across the nation.

Photo: Jim Lane/PW