Social Security Administration Announces Meager 1.3% COLA Increase for 2021
The Social Security Administration announced on Tuesday that its annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be 1.3 percent in 2021, which means an average $20 boost in retirement benefits per month. This year’s COLA is the smallest since 2017 and slightly under the 1.4% average over the past decade.
“The members of the Alliance are disappointed and angry that Social Security beneficiaries will receive a paltry 1.3% benefit increase,” said Richard Fiesta,Executive Director of the Alliance in a statement. “While any COLA is better than nothing, 1.3% is not nearly enough to keep up with the escalating cost of prescription drugs and other expenses seniors have to spend their money on.”
He noted that at least 16% of seniors who work have lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic, making Social Security a larger portion of their income.
As we are heading into the vitally important presidential election, we encourage all of you to vote in defense of your jobs, families and union.
We want to take a moment to bring you up-to-date on the status of the campaign to save the public postal service, defeat plans for postal privatization and build a better future for postal workers.
We have been inspired this past year by your dedication and activism and the outpouring of public support for their Postal Service and for postal workers. As we’ve commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Great Postal Strike, the power of our collective efforts remains clear today – from the streets, to the workplace and the ballot box.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives and health of postal workers. It has also had a deep economic impact, causing projected losses of $50 billion in postal revenue in the coming years. Since tax dollars do not normally fund the Postal Service, a large drop in revenue will likely cause the USPS to run out of money early next year.
Since March, postal workers, our allies and members of the community have been fighting for Congress to pass vital COVID-related emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service to sustain our jobs and its mission as a public service.
Two million signatures to “Save the Post Office” were presented to Congress. 60,000 phone calls were made to members of Congress through our legislative hotline. We have been at the forefront of organizing thousands of in-person events in every state and territory. We have held car-caravans, educated our neighbors, built support in the workplace and taken the fight to the media.
A bipartisan coalition now stands firmly behind our public Postal Service.
You can be proud of what we have done together. PMG Louis DeJoy has been forced, at least temporarily, to halt policies that have led to severe mail delays. We have defended the integrity of vote-by-mail and of the proud postal workers who move election mail. After months of pressure, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which contained $25 billion in Coronavirus-related relief for USPS, as well as hazard pay for front-line workers, including postal workers.
The Senate leadership has refused to take up the HEROES Act and address financial support for the Postal Service, thus any new stimulus package appears unlikely prior to the presidential election.
But we are not discouraged. This fight is far from over. We can and must continue until we secure and expand the role of the Postal Service as a source of good union jobs and universal postal services.
So, we encourage you to do three things to win this fight.
1. Vote to Defend Your Jobs and the Postal Service
3. The Struggle Continues – November 17 – Save the Date for National Mobilization
In November, we must mobilize again. The PMG has said that he will reinstate his regressive policies after the election. The USPS will be even closer to the COVID-related financial crisis. We’re preparing to mobilize on November 17 to fight off service cuts and call for a renewed commitment to the prompt and robust postal services the public deserves!
Stay tuned and stay strong! Together, we will win!
The Alliance wishes President Trump and Melania Trump a speedy recovery from the coronavirus. No one should have to suffer from this horrible disease. Please take precautions,wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Voting Rights Opponents Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
The Pennsylvania Alliance’s recent voting rights victory is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Pennsylvania Republican state legislative leaders and the Republican National Committee. The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it would accept the case.
“Voting rights opponents are not giving up on their efforts to make it harder to vote in this election,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We committed to this fight. All seniors should be able to cast a ballot that will actually be counted without putting their health at risk.”
The Republicans are objecting to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that it is legal to both use drop boxes for ballot returns in Pennsylvania and require ballots that are postmarked by Election Day but arrive up to 3 days after the election to be counted.
A record number of citizens have already requested absentee ballots, significantly increasing the workloads of county election board staff members, who are currently under stay-at-home orders.Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service, which will be relied on to deliver more than a million anticipated ballots, is under severe financial and operational pressure, and may be unable to deliver all voters’ ballots in a timely manner.
Biden Releases Plan to Improve Nursing Home Care
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on Thursday unveiled a plan to increase safety, oversight, and transparency in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
The plan proposes that infectious disease specialists be at every location; increases pay and benefits for nursing home workers; and requires more communication between operators and residents, particularly during a crisis like the coronavirus crisis.
“The Covid-19 crisis has brought problems in nursing homes to the public’s attention and made improvements an immediate necessity,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “We applaud the Biden campaign for taking steps to address these issues quickly in a Biden-Harris administration in a few months.”
Postal Employees Fight Measures to Slow the Mail
The Washington Post reported this week that many U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees are quietly pushing back on so-called cost cutting measures implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that are causing significant mail delivery delays.
The workers view DeJoy’s actions as violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the law and have taken steps to make sure that mail continues to move efficiently. For example mechanics in New York drew out the dismantling and removal of mail-sorting machines for so long that their supervisor gave up on the order. In Ohio, postal clerks culled prescriptions and benefit checks from bins of stalled mail to make sure they did not remain undelivered.
Postmaster General Louis Dejoy is fighting a court order to halt his actions, telling a judge that reinstating overtime to ensure timely delivery of mail-in ballots for the November 3rd election could be abused by workers.“
Dejoy’s claim is ridiculous, since employees must have overtime approved by a supervisor,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “It is baseless and it is offensive to the hard working postal employees.”
Additionally, DeJoy failed to ensure that at least 1.8 million addresses in its database were updated, a routine action the Postal Service takes several times a year. TIME described the lapse as “highly unusual.” An election official in one of the affected states said that the outage resulted in a roughly 10-day delay in processing its mail ballot distribution.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett is Latest Threat to the Affordable Care Act
The future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has come into serious question with President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court Justice to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
On November 10th, the Supreme Court will hear the case Texas v. United States concerning the ACA. The lawsuit, originally brought by Republican attorneys general in2018, argues that the ACA is unconstitutional, and many legal analysts think Barrett is likely to strike it down if her nomination is confirmed.
“In case anyone needed one more reminder of what is at stake in the upcoming elections, the future of the ACA and coverage for 20 million people is at risk,” said Executive Director Fiesta. “If the ACA is struck down, we will lose our coverage for preexisting conditions, forfeit free preventive care and re-open the doughnut hole prescription drug coverage gap.”
Vote Early – and Beware “Naked Ballots”
In addition to the ruling in the Pennsylvania Alliance’s case, the state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania ruled in mid-September that “naked ballots,” mail ballots arriving without inner secrecy envelopes, must be thrown out. That is because Pennsylvania uses a two-envelope mail ballot system: a completed ballot goes into a “secrecy envelope” that has no identifying information before going into a larger mailing envelope that the voter signs.
“This is another reason to double check the rules in your state and formulate a plan in advance for how you will vote,” said President Roach. “Go to www.vote.org to familiarize yourself with the process and minimize the chances that your ballot will be questioned or thrown out on a technicality.”
The next states to kick off early voting in-person are the following: