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Remarks of NEA President Reg Weaver : Social Security Fairness Act Press Conference

February 6, 2007

  • Thank you Representatives Berman and McKeon for holding this very important press conference.

  • NEA has been proud to work with both of you for many years as we have fought to repeal these unfair offsets. But, as hard as you and we have worked, we are still waiting for action.

  • We can wait no longer.

  • Today, I am calling on Congress to act immediately to pass the Social Security Fairness Act.

  • This is an issue of fairness, justice, and respect.

  • It is about Martha, an NEA member from Georgia. An education support professional who spent years caring for two bed-ridden relatives, and who now faces a retirement in poverty and the possible loss of her home.

  • It is about Janice, a teacher from Illinois. A widow at a young age whose husband, her high school sweetheart, thought he was providing for his family by paying into Social Security. She now faces life without him and without the Social Security benefits he earned.

  • It is about Perry, a retired teacher from California. Together, he and his wife paid into Social Security for a combined 47 years. Because of the offsets, they have lost over $57,000 in benefits since retiring 20 years ago.

  • It is about Peg, who you will hear from in a moment. A recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching who now finds herself penalized for leaving the private sector to devote herself to teaching.

  • And, it is about Cecilia, an NEA member from Texas who will lose half the benefits she expected. She says she is simply too old to find another job and, if she had known about the offsets, she would never have taken a job in the public school system.

  • This is also about the education profession. Do we respect our teachers and education support professionals enough to ensure them a secure retirement? Do we respect our children enough to want to provide the very best educators for them? Or, do we want to keep discouraging dedicated and committed individuals from considering education professions?

  • If Congress is serious about encouraging professionals from the private sector to move into teaching, you have to repeal the offsets.

  • If you are serious about encouraging members of the armed forces to consider teaching when they leave the military, you have to repeal the offsets.

  • And, if you are serious about fulfilling the basic right of every child in America to a great public school, you have to repeal the offsets.

  • We simply cannot continue to tell hundreds of thousands of public servants that they have to wait. I know I cannot continue to tell that to the countless NEA members who call, write, and e-mail us every day desperate for news on when the offsets might be repealed.

  • The time to act is now. Let's get moving.

  • Thank you again to Representatives Berman and McKeon for their outstanding and unwavering leadership on this issue.

  • Thank you.