Executive Council Statement | Social Security and Retirement

Creating the Next Generation of Retired Worker Organizations

Milwaukee, WI

For the past 40 years, the American labor movement's organization for older and retired union members—the National Council of Senior Citizens—has led the fight for income security, health care and dignity for America's older citizens. The NCSC led the victory to establish Medicare and has fought with the labor movement on scores of social issues. For all of this time, the NCSC has been a critically important strategic partner to the American labor movement.

During the past two years, a Special Committee of the AFL-CIO has been reviewing the challenges facing the labor movement in the new century as America's workforce ages and the labor movement increases dramatically the number of its retirees.

The Special Committee issued its initial report in October 1999 and called on the labor movement to respond to these new challenges by establishing a culture of "lifelong unionism" and finding a way to establish a national organization that would have universal representation of labor's retirees.

The recommendation by the Committee for the creation of the Alliance for Retired Americans is the culmination of months of work and research. The Alliance will be a completely new organization, but will build on the tremendous work and achievements of the NCSC.

Creating this new organization is a tribute to the path-breaking work done by the founders, leaders and activist members of the NCSC over the past decades—and recognizes the need to build an even stronger organization in the future.

The proposal to establish the Alliance for Retired Americans calls for the full enrollment of retired union members by participating national unions. It also provides for the enrollment of other older and retired workers, who are not union members, in the Alliance.

The AFL-CIO Executive Council fully endorses the creation of this new organization and strongly urges all national union affiliates to participate fully in it.

The national AFL-CIO will provide substantial direct financial support for the Alliance by allocating a portion of member benefit income generated by retirees to the Alliance. This allocation will be reviewed by the Council on an annual basis during the budgeting for the Alliance for Retired Americans.

The Executive Council, in addition to this allocation of member benefit revenues, may establish an annual "per retiree" support payment from national unions, if needed to fund the budget endorsed by the Council.

In recognition that a number of national unions have already invested significantly in their own union retiree programs, the Council is authorized to "cap" the absolute total amount that any one affiliate would be required to provide to the Alliance, counting the revenues generated by its member benefit programs and any required annual support payment.

The AFL-CIO will also work with state federations and labor councils to plan for the development of stronger support systems for union retiree organizations at the state and local level.