WASHINGTON: If pharmaceutical giant Pfizer did not know of the
Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), it does now. On the very day the
group unveiled itself to the public last week, it held a demonstration
outside the corporation's New York offices to protest the high cost of
ARA, which bills itself as the "largest retiree-only advocacy
organization" in the United States, promises to be a "new voice for
That goal came through clearly at the Pfizer protest, which ARA
estimates was attended by more than 1,000 people.
Speakers included AFL-CIO president John Sweeney and ARA EVP Jeff
Wilkinson, who is also executive director of a Massachusetts senior
Seniors were also recruited to testify to the high cost of drugs. The
story appeared in The New York Times.
"There is no better target," Wilkinson said of Pfizer, arguing that its
"obscene" prices for drugs demonstrate the need for better drug coverage
for seniors. Pfizer made an estimated dollars 3.7 billion in profits
last year according to Fortune magazine.
No one at Pfizer would comment on the accusation as PRWeek went to
ARA plans to hold rallies in other cities, and its members will visit
their federal legislators when Congress is in recess next week.
Abernathy Anderson in Washington, DC has been retained as the PR agency
for this project.
ARA claims to have 2.5 million members, which makes it extremely
powerful for a new organization. Any retiree of a union affiliated with
the AFL-CIO is automatically made a member of ARA, and the group also
plans to solicit retirees who are non-union.
Other ARA members include former members of the now-defunct National
Council of Senior Citizens (NCSC), which saw its ranks decline and its
reputation suffer after it was revealed the group had been involved in
the laundering of Teamster funds to re-elect Ron Carey as union
When the NCSC was ultimately disbanded, the AFL-CIO pushed for the
creation of a new group to take its place.
ARA backs adding a universal prescription-drug benefit to Medicare,
opposes the Bush administration's tax plan and opposes privatizing the
Social Security system.