by Ben Sears
Pennsylvania does not vote until April 22 of course. We are not used to having a primary that will mean very much, given that it is usually one of the last, but this year could be different. Right now, the state and public school worker retirees are working to overcome our hopefully temporary electoral division. Let me explain.
Thousands of PA state workers belong to their pension fund; thousands of school retirees (teachers, secretaries, maintenance workers) belong the public school employees retirement fund. Right now we are in coalition fighting--I would say "tooth and nail"--to get the state legislature to pass a COLA for all of us, since we do not get one automatically, (as we just did get on our Social Security checks, for instance), and we have not had one since 2002. But the COLA requires legislative action for both of the funds. We are persistently working out the details of this coalition effort even though our national unions have endorsed different candidates in the Dem primaries. AFT, which represents school workers in parts of the state, endorsed Clinton; SEIU, which represents school workers also and some state workers just endorsed Obama; AFSCME also represents some state workers. PSEA represents also many PA school workers; I don't know if they have endorsed anyone yet. So we are emphasizing our areas of agreement to try to get a COLA this year. Some of our long term retirees are, as you can well believe, really hurting and need it badly.