AFT Exec Council Calls For Negotiated Cease - Fire
AFT Executive Council Adopts Resolution Unanimously Calling for the End of the Israel-Hamas War by Negotiated Bilateral Cease-Fire, Promoting Steps Toward a Two-State Solution for Israeli and Palestinian Self-Determination
The American Federation of Teachers executive council, the body representing the union’s 1.72 million educators, higher education professionals, healthcare workers and public employees, unanimously adopted an omnibus statement addressing the war in the Middle East and its impact on the United States.
The path to this resolution reflects significant input from and discussion with AFT affiliate leaders and rank-and-file members from around the country, including listening and learning sessions starting right after Oct. 7, the day of the Hamas attack on Israel. It is a comprehensive statement that includes specific steps toward long-term peace in the region, and it addresses the effects of the conflict at home. The resolution calls for:
A negotiated bilateral cease-fire, agreed to by both sides in this war and guaranteed by the international community. A cease-fire agreement must include the immediate provision of desperately needed food, water, medical care, clothing, emergency shelter and other humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the release of all hostages abducted by Hamas from Israel on Oct. 7.
Reaffirming the AFT’s support for a two-state solution, with true self-determination for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine, noting both peoples have deep roots in that land and the right to live there in peace and with freedom.
Condemning all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia, and continuing the AFT’s work to ensure that our workplaces are safe, and free from fear of hate and bigotry.
Ensuring the United States remains a place where all people are safe to express dissent—in their communities, and on their streets and campuses. The conflict should not be used as an excuse to wage political attacks on American colleges and universities, or as a pretext to undermine necessary efforts to increase diversity, promote equity and advance inclusion.
The resolution also condemns the obstacles the AFT sees toward peace, including Hamas, and the Netanyahu government’s policies.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
“Every day, we see the tremendous pain that Palestinians and Israelis are experiencing. Many of our members are deeply connected to people in Israel and the Palestinian territories, so they feel that pain personally; and many others, including the students we teach, are horrified and aggrieved by what has happened.
“The time for war is over, and the time for diplomacy must begin. We believe wholeheartedly that the path forward in the Middle East must end the decades of conflict and bloodshed by recognizing the rights of both peoples and affirming a two-state solution. Our work does not stop with a resolution: We will not shy away from continuing to listen to our members and our communities and endeavoring to move toward a lasting peace.
“Furthermore, we reject the toxic rhetoric that pits standing up to antisemitism and Islamophobia against the fight to preserve academic freedom and the free speech rights of students, faculty and staff: We can and must do both. Our institutions have an obligation to keep students and employees safe and to stand up against bigotry—and they must honor it.”
Alliance Endorses Joe Biden for Reelection
Citing President Biden’s record of commitment to retirement security for every American, the
Alliance for Retired Americans endorsed Joe Biden for reelection as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.
“Older Americans can trust Joe Biden because he always fights for us. With another term, he will
do even more to strengthen and expand Social Security and Medicare, lower drug prices and
protect the pension benefits we have earned,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance.
“Everything is at stake for seniors in this election,” Roach continued. “Our members know how to
get things done and will be talking with their friends and family about the Biden-Harris record,
making calls, knocking on doors and ensuring people know when and where to vote.”
President Roach also stressed that thanks to President Biden, all Medicare beneficiaries are
paying no more than $35 per month for insulin; all recommended vaccines are free; and Medicare
Part D beneficiaries will pay no more than $3,200 out of pocket annually for drugs. He added that
President Biden forced wealthy pharmaceutical corporations to negotiate lower drug prices with
Medicare for the first time in history, which will save seniors and taxpayers billions of dollars over the next several years.
The Alliance noted in its press release that retirees with pensions are going to receive the benefits they earned due to the Administration’s success.
The Butch Lewis Act, signed into law by Biden as part of the American Rescue Plan in 2021, is keeping 2 to 3 million workers’ pension plans solvent and able to pay full benefits through at least 2051.
“As a kid from Scranton, President Biden wakes up every day working hard to make life better for
working people, and that includes delivering on a deeply held commitment to care for America’s
seniors,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodriguez said in a statement. “The more than
4 million members of the Alliance of Retired Americans will be critical to a win in November, and
President Biden is honored to have earned their support.”
Support Violence Intervention
To: AFT Members:
While deaths and injuries from gun violence are declining, too many children and young people are slaughtered or traumatized by firearm-related violence. Death by firearm remains the leading killer of young people, and the impact on survivors, witnesses and communities is immeasurable. We see it in our emergency rooms, we see it in our classrooms, and we see it in our correctional facilities.
Help break the cycle of gun violence by telling Congress to continue funding community violence intervention programs.
Community violence intervention programs are effective. They were funded in last year’s federal spending bill, but this funding could soon end, as Republicans in Congress are seeking to cut spending in the coming weeks.
Help keep these lifesaving programs going by contacting Congress.
Many of you are worried about discipline in the classroom, violence in the ER and safety going to and from work. You see distraught patients and family members. You see traumatized students and those who have learned from the violence around them that their lives are not valued. Too many of you have been wounded yourselves—mentally or physically—by gun violence.
Let’s tackle these challenges head-on and demand Congress fund community violence intervention programs.
As we work to reduce illegal access to firearms through federal and state legislation, prosecute unscrupulous gun dealers and address the underlying causes of violence, we must also work in our communities to help young people being drawn into the violence by fear and anger.
Help keep our communities safe. Tell Congress to support community violence intervention funding.
Lower Insullin Prices in 2024
Lower Insulin Prices, Out-of-Pocket Cost Caps for Medicare Beneficiaries Kick Off 2024
Medicare beneficiaries will see a wide array of cost-saving benefits in the new year. Thanks to the Biden Administration, seniors will continue to pay no more than the monthly cap of $35 for insulin, and vaccines under Part D will be free.
Going forward, if a beneficiary’s drug costs are high enough to reach the catastrophic coverage
phase, they will not have to pay coinsurance or make copayments. This effectively caps out-ofpocket expenses at $3,250 in 2024.
Another major change this year is the Part D Low-Income Subsidy program, Extra Help, which will
now cover more drug costs for those who earn less than 150% of the federal poverty level.
Qualifiers for the program will pay no more than $4.50 for generic drugs and $11.20 for brandname drugs.
These 2024 benefits are only a few of the annually unrolling policies that are aimed at limiting
Medicare costs under the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed in 2022. Last year,
drug companies were forced to participate in price negotiations with Medicare, which will lead to
lower prices, and in 2025, the annual Part D out-of-pocket cap will be lowered to $2,000.
“Beginning with insulin, seniors are finally seeing the affordable prices they deserve for live-saving drugs,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance For Retired Americans.
“These changes in 2024 are important steps toward curbing drug corporation greed.”
UFT Welfare Fund Retiree Programs
To: UFT Vegas Retirees:
We are excited to announce that you now have two convenient ways to register for Si Beagle courses this spring. You can choose to register online, which is quick, easy and secure.
If you prefer a more traditional method, you may also mail your registration to:
UFTWF Retiree Programs, Si Beagle Learning Centers, 52 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10004.
The course catalog and registration link will be available online by Tuesday, Jan. 9. We must receive your registration no later than Wednesday, Feb. 14.
We look forward to seeing you at one or several Si Beagle courses in the new year!
Director of UFT Welfare Fund Retiree Programs
Biden Imposes Penalties On Drug Makers
Biden Administration to Impose New Inflation Penalties on Makers of 48 Drugs.
President Joe Biden went to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland Thursday to announce
that dozens of drug corporations will be required to pay rebates to Medicare because they raised
drug prices faster than the rate of inflation. Forty-eight Medicare Part B drugs with price increases above the rate of inflation will be subject to rebates in the first quarter of 2024.
Biden credited the Medicare Prescription Drug Inflation Rebate Program, part of the 2022 Inflation
Reduction Act, for the development. The rebates will mean lower costs across the board for the
over 750,000 seniors who take the costly drugs every year, with the crackdown on price gouging
expected to save them between $1 and $2,786 per dose on their medications.
Seniors who take the drugs, which include medications that fight infection and cancer, will now
have lower out-of-pocket costs as well as lower coinsurance payments.
Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, 64 drugs have had prices that rose faster than
the rate of inflation in the last four quarters. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have also lowered coinsurance amounts for all of those drugs.
This latest announcement follows a separate drug price announcement from the White House last
week, when President Biden outlined the use of “march-in” rights to break the patents of
unreasonably priced drugs from companies that received government funds. The Administration’s
aggressive approach towards pharmaceutical price gouging has paid off, with seniors on
Medicare saving as much as $618 per average dose on 47 prescription drugs in 2023.
“Seniors are finally paying lower drug prices after years of drug corporation price gouging and
sky-high corporate profits,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “The Inflation
Reduction Act has been extraordinarily effective at reigning in skyrocketing drug prices in its first year and even more savings will come over the next four years.”
Keep this in mind when going to the Polls.
Free At-Home COVID Tests Available for Home Delivery
As Americans prepare to gather for the winter holidays, the federal government is offering four
free at-home COVID tests per address through the mail. Tests can be ordered online at
The release of additional tests comes days ahead of Thanksgiving and the busy holiday
travel season, which has corresponded with a surge in coronavirus cases in recent years.
According to a recent survey, sixty one percent of Americans aged 65 years or older have already
gotten the updated COVID vaccine or plan to get the new vaccine. However, smaller percentages
of Americans overall say they plan to get the updated vaccine.
“Information is power,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Having a
few COVID tests on hand is a good idea if you are going to be spending time with people who are
Fight The Cuts To Public Education
To: All UFT/AFT Retirees:
On Election Day, voters across the country made clear that they want pro-public school candidates, not dividers. This didn’t surprise me. As I visit schools and talk with families, I routinely hear what’s on parents’ minds—access to safe and welcoming public schools where their kids can recover and thrive; praise for our Real Solutions for Kids and Communities campaign, which addresses loneliness and learning loss; and implementing well-rounded education that starts with literacy and hands-on, experiential learning. This requires us to invest in and strengthen our public schools.
This week, the extremist forces in the House of Representatives are about to do the opposite of all that, as they consider an education funding bill with massive cuts to the critical education programs students and educators depend on.
And many are, yet again, threatening a government shutdown if they don’t get these cuts.
It’s up to us to stop them. Write to your lawmakers and tell them to oppose the extreme House Republican funding bill. We need real solutions, not cuts.
If these Republicans get their way, this spending bill will:
Cut Title I funding by 80 percent, which could gut all programs for poor kids in America, including forcing a nationwide reduction of 220,000 teachers from classrooms serving low-income students; Eliminate programs for English language learners (Title III), supports for teachers (Title II-A), social and emotional learning grants, Promise Neighborhoods and magnet schools;
Cut funding for community schools—schools that serve not just students but their families;
Decimate funding for job training, cancer research, mental health initiatives, addressing the opioid crisis, eliminating HIV/AIDS, and more; and
Cut programs to support maternal health, eliminating programs that provide contraception and health services.
These extremist lawmakers should listen to their constituents. We cannot make deep cuts to Title I, public education and healthcare when kids and communities need these resources the most.
Tell Republicans in Congress to stop trying to pass an awful appropriations bill aimed at cutting funding for public education for our most vulnerable students.
Tell your lawmakers: It’s time to get to work and provide real solutions for kids and communities to help our kids and families thrive, not smears, divisiveness and fear.
Reminder To Get Free Credit Monitoring Services
All UFT retirees who belong to the Teachers’ Retirement System have the chance to get free credit-monitoring services for two years. TRS offered this protection to our retirees in response to the TRS data breach in July.
Oct. 12 was the original deadline to enroll with Kroll for this service. However, you may still enroll by following the instructions below:
Call Kroll at 866-373-9057 and ask a representative to extend your activation deadline. Your new deadline for enrolling is Sunday, Nov. 13.
Allow two to three days for the extension to take effect.
Then, go to Kroll's enrollment web page to set up an account. You will need to enter the information from your notification letter (including your Kroll “Member Number”) when prompted.
Please note that TRS representatives cannot enroll you in these free services or extend your activation deadline. You must contact Kroll for assistance. Kroll representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST, through Nov. 13. After this date, Kroll's representatives and its free protection services will longer be available to TRS retirees and payees.
House Speaker Takes Aim At Seniors
Alliance Statement on New House Speaker Mike Johnson’s “Debt Commission” Plan.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) was elected speaker of the U.S. House,
winning the top job in a party-line vote and ending a standoff that had gone on for more than three weeks.
The Alliance For Retired Americans immediately issued a statement regarding both Johnson's
record of voting against older Americans’ best interests and his announcement that he plans to create a bipartisan "debt commission."
“House Speaker Mike Johnson isn’t a household name yet, but he’s made it clear that he has no
intention of protecting seniors,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “He has
taken dozens of votes that put the needs of drug corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthiest
Americans ahead of older Americans.”
“It’s outrageous that Johnson announced plans to create a so-called ‘debt commission’ during his
first speech as Speaker of the House,” Fiesta added. “The commission, which would meet behind
closed doors, is supposed to come up with schemes to cut the Social Security and Medicare
benefits Americans worked a lifetime to earn.”
Calling the plan for a Commission “undemocratic, dangerous, and cowardly,” Fiesta said that if
Speaker Johnson and his buddies want to come after Social Security, they should at least have
the guts to do so in public.
Johnson earned a 0% pro-retiree score in the Alliance’s Congressional Voting Record last year.
His lifetime voting record score is a pathetic 5%.
“Speaker Johnson earned those scores by voting AGAINST allowing Medicare to negotiate lower
drug prices, FOR raising the retirement age, FOR privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and
even AGAINST funding for Meals on Wheels,” Fiesta concluded. “Speaker Johnson is already off
to a horrific start. Seniors deserve better.”
Join Us On NewsGuard
Dear AFT Members:
I’m writing to let you know about two fantastic free resources for AFT members who are interested in media literacy, accurate and truthful information, and maintaining students’ academic integrity.
As educators, we experience the daily challenge of ensuring that our students have access to accurate and truthful information about many crucial subjects, including current events and history, developments in government and society, and the current state of scientific knowledge on questions that range from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change. The internet and social media can be powerful virtual libraries for education, opening up new vistas of learning for our students—but only if students are empowered to be critical, knowledgeable consumers of the vast amount of material that is now available on those media. Now more than ever, media literacy skills are an essential part of becoming an educated person and a responsible and engaged citizen in our democracy. This is where NewsGuard, a leading anti-misinformation tool, will be a helpful resource.
We are also already seeing the first signs of the impact that artificial intelligence will have on teaching and learning. We face new challenges in confirming the academic integrity of the work that students submit as their own. We have seen how AI can accelerate the spread of disinformation and propaganda, which poses real threats to our democracy and to the transmission of knowledge in our classrooms. And those who don’t understand that education rests on the foundation of the teacher-student relationship are already speculating about how teaching could be done by computers using AI. This is where GPTZero, the leading AI identification platform, will be a helpful resource.
All AFT members and their students and families can sign up for free access to NewsGuard and GPTZero, which includes:
NewsGuard’s media literacy browser extension
NewsGuard’s “Disinformation Risk Briefings,” a weekly digest of the top misinformation and disinformation trends and narratives
GPTZero’s AI identification tool platform and pedagogical writing tools
Teachers continue to support incorporating new technology into the classroom, advocating for tools and safeguards like these so educators, parents, legislators and tech companies can better work together to ensure accountability and oversight. But with disinformation and potential abuse of AI running high, educators have identified an increasingly urgent need to propose solutions, including the expansion of media literacy and tools to detect the misuse of AI.
These solutions will encourage critical thinking, enhance the pursuit of knowledge, and sharpen the ability of students to think critically and recognize misinformation—all important skills for students to be successful in college, career and life.
Sign up to take advantage of the free resources from NewsGuard and GPTZero—and please share the link with your colleagues.
Call To Action
Dear AFT Members:
Copy and paste this email to friends to spread the word:
Subject: Take Action: CONGRESS: No Cuts to Family-Supporting Programs
I took an action on Action Network called CONGRESS: No Cuts to Family-Supporting Programs.
Will you urge Congress to say no to extreme budget cuts that could hurt our families?
Working people deserve a budget that creates good jobs and protects families, not another shutdown.
Here are the top 10 proposed cruel cuts:
Rip $750 million away from Head Start programs, meaning 82,000 children will lose access to Head Start.
Cut 80% of programs that impact 26 million low-income students, slashing 226,000 teacher positions.
Eliminate programs that train workers for jobs and provide entry into the workforce for millions of workers.
Slash funding to the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor.
Cut nearly $100 million to the National Labor Relations Board, funding that holds big corporations accountable.
Cut substantial funding to agencies that protect our health and safety on the job.
Repeal parts of the bipartisan infrastructure law, cutting $103 billion and causing the immediate stoppage of infrastructure projects that help local communities.
Gut transportation funds that are building the infrastructure to make commuting more accessible and affordable and create hundreds of thousands of good jobs.
Slash critical safety resources while rebuilding low-income housing with little regard to health hazards and toxins, threatening the health of thousands of children.
Drastically reduce funds to programs that tackle poverty by providing nutrition to millions of families and children.
Can you join me and take action? Click here: https://act.aflcio.org/forms/say-no-to-extreme-cuts-that-could-hurt-our-families?source=email& .
Social Security To See Modest COLA Increase
Social Security Beneficiaries Will Receive a 3.2% COLA Increase in 2024
Social Security recipients will receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment of 3.2% for 2024, a
much smaller increase than the inflation-fueled boosts of the past two years, Social Security
Administration officials announced Thursday.
“The seventy-one million Americans who rely on their earned Social Security and Supplemental
Security Income benefits will undoubtedly benefit from this modest cost-of-living increase, but it is not enough,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The increase amounts to an additional $59 per month for the average retired worker. A COLA increase is always welcome
news, but too many older Americans will continue to struggle to pay for basics like food, housing,
and prescription drugs.”
The $59 increase does not take into account that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
(CMS) announced the monthly Medicare Part A and B premiums for 2024 on Thursday, with the
costs set to go up by 6% next year. The premiums would increase by $9.80 from $164.90 to
$174.70 in 2024.
The annual deductible for Medicare Part B beneficiaries will go up from $226 to $240 as well. This
price increase comes after Medicare Part B premiums went down for the first time in more than 10
years in 2023.
Fiesta added that strengthening Social Security and increasing benefits is a must. If billionaires
and the wealthiest Americans paid their fair share into the system, we could afford to increase
benefits across the board and ensure Social Security is there for future generations.
“What we don’t need are the dangerous proposals tossed around by many Republicans in
Congress and on the presidential campaign to gut the benefits we’ve earned over a lifetime of
work,” he concluded. “Schemes to raise the retirement age, cut benefits or privatize Social
Security are unacceptable. Retirees should pay close attention and make sure they support
candidates who will protect the benefits they earn, not slash them.”
Ten Drug Corporations Meet Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Deadline
The manufacturers of the ten high-priced drugs selected for the first round of Medicare drug price
negotiations all formally agreed to negotiate by the October deadline although several said they
were doing so ‘under duress.”
Separately, a conservative federal court judge on Friday denied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's
bid for a preliminary injunction against the Inflation Reduction Act's Drug Price Negotiation
Program—the first legal test to stop the Biden administration's implementation of the Medicare
The ten prescription drugs are Eliquis, Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Farxiga, Entresto, Enbrel,
Imbruvica, Stelara, and Fiasp. Out of pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries taking these drugs
was $3.4 billion in 2022.
The negotiated prices will take effect on January 1, 2026.
“We are pleased that all of the corporations have agreed to come to the negotiating table,” said
Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary Treasurer of the Alliance. “The Inflation Reduction Act is already
delivering lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries who take insulin and punishing
corporations that raise prices more than the rate of inflation. More savings will come down the
road when lower prices are in place for these outrageously expensive drugs.”