President's Column: Changing the conversation

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President's Column: Changing the conversation

Voice: July 2017

After four years of bad bills, endless legislative debates, and unprecedented advocacy by PSEA members, a new pension law is on the books in Pennsylvania.

It isn’t perfect, but it does protect your retirement benefits and the solvency of the retirement funds, while excluding many of the harmful provisions that were in previous bills. You can read more about it in this issue of Voice.

What I want to focus on is just how much you changed the conversation about pensions in Harrisburg.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Corbett administration was trying to make unconstitutional cuts to your retirement benefits. Many in the Legislature supported those attempts. That’s when PSEA – you – sprang into action.

You held thousands of meetings with state lawmakers and sent them more than 1 million emails, letters, and phone calls. That’s right – 1 million. They heard you. They had no choice. You wouldn’t let up.

When it came time to put the votes together for a new pension law, lawmakers had no doubt where we stood.

We also had Gov. Tom Wolf as our advocate in this debate, standing up for us at the bargaining table and fighting against the worst elements of several bad pension bills.

So, it’s no accident we now have a pension law that comes closer than any other recently considered to meeting PSEA’s pension principles.

It’s been a long four years, and it’s tempting to think that now we can finally sit back and relax.

We cannot.

We need you now more than ever to engage with your lawmakers and change the conversation on other policies that impact what we do in our schools and our classrooms – just as more than 100 of your colleagues did during PSEA’s Lobby Days in mid-June.

We need to speak out against attacks on our ability to deduct union dues from our paychecks, a move expressly designed to silence our voices.

We need to fight efforts in Washington to cut billions in federal funds for public schools and divert dollars to new unaccountable tuition voucher programs.

We also need you to help us advance policies that work, such as investing more in our schools and requiring districts to use transparency in subcontracting decisions.

And on Election Day, we need you to go out and vote for champions of public education up and down the ballot.

PSEA will remain vigilant and keep you in the loop every step of the way. But only you can change the conversation.

By picking up the phone.

Sending an email.

Meeting with your lawmakers.

And voting.

We may get to rest someday, but not when there’s still so much work to do. 


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