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2018 NEA Retired Organizing Conference

This year’s NEA Retired Organizing Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.  The actual Retiree Conference was held for only 1 day-timewise-the Conference commenced at 1:00pm Sunday, March 18 and adjourned at 12:00pm Monday, March 19.  Joan Beaver, Myrna Doran, Julie Jagusch, Sharon Kjellberg, Bobbie Margo, Adele/Walt Munsterman, Judy Rohde, and staff person Christine Thornborrow represented ED MN Retired.  Attendees numbered 250+ with participants representing over 40 state retired organizations throughout the country.  This year’s Conference theme was “Uniting Our Members and The Nation-Retirees Hand in Hand With You.”

Sarah Borgman President, NEA Retired opened the Conference and introduced keynote speaker Bob Blancato, who is the National Coordinator of the Bi-Partisan Elder Justice Coalition.  Blancato informed retirees that we actually are heroes because the union was built on our shoulders.  Nevertheless, his cautioning message was that “we are still under construction!”  The day concluded with dinner and a powerful speaker named Gary Harmon, author and teacher.  Harmon was born with physical differences, yet taught for 33 years in the Knox County, TN school system.  Harmon talked about his experiences growing up and why he became a teacher.  He discussed how we have more in common than one might think-despite his physical differences.  And how important it is for us as educators/retirees to instill that positive outlook and courage into today’s students and young adults-differences aside!


Sunday morning included several breakout sessions, along with the final Keynote Speech by Mary Kusler, Senior Director, Lobbyist, NEA Center for Advocacy.  Kusler informed us that there are 57 million people on Medicare; by 2030 there will be 80 million.  Failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act has been very good for Medicare-whose future is all about policy and politics.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security will not get touched this year because it is an election year.  The current administration’s tax cut bill has been labeled the “scam tax cut bill.”   Tax cuts to corporations are permanent; tax cuts to individuals are temporary.

By the numbers:    1) Turnover in the first year of this administration is the highest ever recorded in history-34%            2) Retirees raised-just at this one day Conference-$16,115.00 for PAC
The 2019 NEA Retired Organizing Conference is scheduled to take place in Denver, Colorado.  This will be another chance for skill development, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities with peers-dare I say-a true Rocky Mountain high!

Submitted by Bobbie Margo

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