January 19, 2015

TARA Is the Solution for Texas Retirees — A Message from the President

First Draft of President’s Remarks for the TARA convention 1/20/15. Your criticisms encouraged:

TARA Challenges and Solutions

You’ve heard some things about the many challenges before us. Let me assure you that we’re doing something about them and that we have the potential to triumph over all these challenges.

We know the problems, and we know the solution. We have met the solution and it is us! You, the people attending this TARA convention, are the leadership that can bring triumph to Texas retirees!

What we have done so far

When TARA was born, we had 4 main problems:

  1. A vast and hostile territory, the state of Texas, with fewer than 6% of workers in the labor movement.
  2. A lack of functional structure and leadership
  3. No experience in fighting back
  4. We were prohibited from doing political work

 Taking those in order, we can see that Texas remains a vast and hostile territory for the retiree movement. The anti-retiree forces smashed the more moderate politicians in 2014. 71% of all over-65 voters voted Republican in 2014! We accept this situation and will do what we can about it.

Since 2011, we have put organizational questions in proper perspective. We see them as inextricably wound with an action orientation. Today, we are one of the most active groups in the Texas labor movement. When we go out on actions, we attract union retirees as well as non-union retirees. We appeal not only to the 104,000 retirees connected to their unions, but also to the 2 million who are not connected to unions. As a result, we are growing, and our structure has made important gains.

A particular obstacle for TARA had to do with our initial base. The ARA and TARA were started by the AFL-CIO. We had great support in the union movement, and that’s the best place to have support, but we had no support outside the union movement. Our solution was to build organizations where union retirees and non-union retirees can work together. It works!

Today, retirees can get active with us in most of the major cities. The San Antonio AFL-CIO retiree group, changed their by-laws so that non-union retirees can participate in their actions. Only Houston and El Paso remain as major Texas cities where union retirees haven’t found a way to reach out to the rest of the retirees. Judy Bryant and Lewis Fulbright have made quite a bit of headway with Houston.

Organizer Judy Bryant has also made it a special point to get involved with the Steelworkers’ S.O.A.R. chapters. They are particularly important because their national organization has made it possible for any retiree, union or not, to get involved with S.O.A.R..

On the business of structure, we have been relatively successful in building our electronic outreach, somewhat successful in reaching out through the telephone, and partially successful in using U.S. mail. We do all of them and we intend to do more.

As for political work, we are in the process of incorporating ourselves in a different tax category. We need volunteers to serve on the organizing committee for that. After we complete that process, and it won’t take long, we’ll be able to lobby and work with candidates much more freely. This is a big step for Texas.

 

What we are faced with immediately

We were very successful in participating in Senior Day during the last legislative session and we look forward to being even more successful this February 17. Everybody out for Senior Day!

National is urging us to participate in some good educational efforts that involve travel. As you can imagine, travel is our main expense.

July 30 is the 50th anniversary of Medicare. We were responsible for creating Medicare, and we don’t intend to stand by while the Republicans in Congress try again to privatize it. We should commit, here and now, to as many public actions as possible around January 30. The good news is that the Texas AFL-CIO will back us all the way on this, and will provide the best speakers in Texas.

We should also think about a statewide tour to save Medicare. Each one of you would be asked to set up meetings and public events for the tour. We’ve never done anything like it, we’ve never had the money, but it needs doing.

Money matters

Nothing can be done without money. We will be turning in our end-of-year report on the grant that pays Judy’s little salary on January 22. Right after that, we submit a proposal to try to get her salary paid for the current year. TARA pays all expenses, and we do that by raising money.

Most of our money, it’s no secret, comes from labor unions. But I’m particularly proud that a growing percentage of our funding comes from individuals. A small but critical number have already started making monthly pledges, and those monthly pledges really add up. There are forms around here for it, but the easiest way is to go from our website to our ‘donate” page, then put in a small amount and check “recurring donation.” Paypal will take it out of your credit card monthly.

TARA is a growing force in Texas, and it is the main hope for saving and improving the right to retire. You are the leadership we need. You are the main hope.

(this report takes 7 minutes to deliver)

-Gene Lantz, President

PLEASE contribute any amount, or make a monthly pledge, to Texas Alliance for Retired Americans by clicking here.

Sign our petition to Dallas Mayor Rawlings asking him to stop pushing to privatize the school district.

We’re also still gathering petitions for health care implementation in Texas. Sign that petition at:

http://afl.salsalabs.com/o/4055/c/1254/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4684

Contact Gene Lantz at labordallas@sbcglobal.net

Judy Bryant at 214-729-0063

facebook: Texas Alliance for Retired Americans

Twitter: @Tx4TARA

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