RETIREMENT: MYTH OR REALITY?

by John P. Richards, Eastern Region Retiree Convention Delegate

Most APWU members approach retirement with a sense of "Whew, I'm glad this will soon be over, and I can sit back and enjoy my retirement." You have put a career into Postal employment, and certainly have earned, in too many cases under trying circumstances, a nice, quiet, comfortable retirement. So when that big day comes, and the final punch-out has come and gone, we leave our workplace under the impression that our work is done, and we can fade into the sunset, never to think about the Postal Service or Union activity again. Would that were the case!

The sobering fact is that as along as you draw an annuity, which means until the end, you and your retirement are under a constant threat that the President and/or Congress may tinker in some way with your pension as the nation faces a deteriorating gloomy economy and the government casts covetous eyes in every corner, including our annuity, to find funding for other purposes.

We who have been involved with the Post Office and the government over the years have seen it all before, suffered under it, and reach out to you to make you aware of what the realities of retirement really are. In our employment history we experienced a Congress that deferred Retiree cost-of-living raises for months, using those funds for other purposes. We have seen another Congress enact the infamous Pension Off-Set Law, which deprives deserving Post Office Retirees from earned Social Security benefits. And the most egregious provocative example was President Richard Nixon all but freezing salaries, which precipitated the 1970 Strike which resulted in the first Postal Reform legislation, achieving collective bargaining, and the formation of the APWU.

But we as Retirees do have weapons in our arsenal to anticipate and combat these initiatives, and we must use them. First and foremost is staying involved by joining the Retiree Department when you retire for a modest $3.00 monthly dues, and forming local and state Retiree Chapters where they don't now exist, and strengthening them where they do exist. Retiree Chapters are in a unique position to concentrate on the local political scene and support the APWU's political activity as a powerful voting demographic respected by the politicians. A second and equally important weapon is contributing to APWU COPA to swell the Union's war chest which provides the resources to conduct vigorous activity in the political and legislative fields.

You have worked too hard too long to have your future snatched through your fingers by those who would like nothing better than cutting or deferring our retirement income and shifting those funds elsewhere. A word to the wise should be sufficient. When you end your Postal employment may we welcome you into the fellowship and activity of your fellow Retirees? Signing up is easy, and will be facilitated by the Retiree Department. We hope to welcome you into your retirement and the Retiree Department when that time comes for you.