What Happens in Washington Matters

By Julie Stein
SOAR Director

In mid-May, Tammie Botelho, a retiree from Bic Corporation and proud member of USW Local 134L in Milford, Connecticut, joined dozens of SOAR members and hundreds of rank-and-file Steelworkers for the USW's annual Rapid Response Conference in Washington, D.C.

This three-day conference includes plenary sessions, workshops, and opportunities to build solidarity with USW local unions and SOAR chapters. On the final day, conferencegoers met face-to-face with federal lawmakers and their staff to discuss a range of issues, including health care, union rights, workplace issues, retirement security, and more.  

In meetings with two members of Congress and one Senator, Tammie expressed her concerns about a controversial proposal to fast-track cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  

"Our lawmakers need to hear from folks like me who have worked for decades and paid into programs like Social Security and Medicare so we could someday retire with the dignity we deserve," said Botelho.  

"But it's not just retirees' issues that concern me.  We need to fight against all efforts to undercut the protections Steelworkers are fighting for on the job, and Rapid Response offers all of us an opportunity to do exactly that."

However, like so many SOAR members, Tammie's activism extends beyond attending the union's annual Rapid Response Conference. 

As a new SOAR chapter President, Tammie is leading by example in her own community.  

"I wanted to start a SOAR chapter to stay involved in our union's work and help younger members and fellow retirees understand that what happens in Washington matters," she said.

During one of the plenary sessions, Cheryl Omlor, a former healthcare worker who now works as an Administrative Assistant in our USW's SOAR Office, participated in a panel discussion about unsafe staffing ratios in nursing homes. During the lobbying sessions on Capitol Hill, we told Congress they must protect elderly Americans by ensuring those residing in long-term care facilities have safe staffing levels to provide quality care and worker safety.

"It's such an honor to see firsthand the impact USW members and retirees can have when we work together," said Omlor.

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