Local 848's retirees received so much valuable information at the October 13 meeting that we were almost late starting lunch. Benefits Coordinator Craig Melton, Local 848 Citizenship and Legislative Committee Head Kyle Dubberke, and Chaplain Kevin McDavid took the time to share their special knowledge with the retirees.
Seniors across the nation are being bombarded with information and misinformation from insurance companies seeking to take advantage of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Melton said the experts, Congress, and even the Medicare people are likely to be confused by it. The benefit itself has been roundly condemned for having limited value and for being so complicated that very few people actually understand it.
The retirees put Melton through a grilling. They realized that hundreds of other Local 848 retirees are trying to figure out the new situation.
Speaker Kyle Duberkke began by explaining by explaining the difference between his committee, Citizenship and Legislative, and the Community Action Program (CAP). CAP raises its own money and tries to influence election outcomes. Dubberke's committee is charged with helping keep the active and retiree memberships informed about political developments.
The first of several hot topics Dubberke talked about was the legal charges brought against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He moved on to House Resolution (HR) 147, which would help certain workers become eligible for Social Security. He talked about local, state, and national issues that the retirees can influence through calling their representatives and through voting.
He told the group, "Hopefully, when we start this ball rolling the other way, it will continue. America is starting to wake up and see that what's going on isn't working. We need to work to turn the tide."
Brother Kyle McDavid said that President James Splawn had brought increased attention to the local's chaplaincy program. He said that there are now three members of the committee and they are making plans to improve the spiritual well-being of our members. He pointed out that the UAW International requires that retirees have their own separate chaplain. Brother Gene Cates had just been approved as our Retiree Chaplain.
McDavid spent considerable time talking about the importance of inclusiveness in any religious program. Not all our members share the same beliefs, but McDavid said that the beliefs were very similar on the issues that unions confront. He said his committee intends to take the broadest possible approach.
Islam, McDavid explained, calls for a just relationship between worker and employers. "Prophet Mohammed instructed employers to fix a fair price for labor before the work started, and to pay the worker before his sweat dries," he said.
McDavid pointed out that all three major communities of faith, Christian, Jew, and Islam, have announced their support for the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress. It would make it easier to form unions. He summarized, "The chaplaincy program is all about finding common ground. We have to work together, because we are facing some tough situations.
After the speakers, retirees talked about starting Bingo games and about forming a recreation committee. Everyone was asked to help find special guests for our holiday meetings. Birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated, the door prizes were handed out, and we chowed down on delicious barbecue and our own contributions from home. As always, Paul and Janet Conroy stayed late to put the union hall in apple pie order.
Retirees continue gaining more information from meetings and from the new UAW Area Council web site: www.txsenior.org.
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