In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, attacks against Social Security, public sector pensions, Medicare and other social safety net programs have escalated — all part of an ominous political thrust to shift the burden of the municipal, state and federal budget crises to working families and the poor.
The attacks on these programs constitute a major threat to the wellbeing of the next generations of American workers, as well as to those currently depending on retirement, survivor or medical benefits.
In response, the Retirees’ Chapter in October 2010 formed a Social Safety Net Working Group. At its February 2011 meeting, the PSC Executive Council voted to expand what started out as a chapter initiative into a union-wide campaign.
The primary purpose of the campaign was to:
Educate our own members, especially younger in-service members, about the issues.
Set the record straight about these programs by dispelling the misinformation used to undermine support for them.
Join larger coalitions already formed in defense of the social safety net.
The group, initially consisting of nine retirees, has met regularly to review literature on safety net programs and to develop resources on three areas in particular to be used in an educational campaign:
Retirement Insecurity: Pensions andSocial Security
Healthcare: Medicare and Medicaid
Putting Food on the Table: Food Stamps and Unemployment Insurance
The group’s first task was to draft a short, plain-spoken booklet explaining the programs and why their support is crucial. Its second was to plan a major forum.