Dear Wayne County Retiree:
At the October 10, 2017 meeting, the issue of the formation of a Statewide AFSCME Retiree Chapter was discussed. Our Sub-Chapter has not been in favor of the Statewide Chapter and have been trying to get Chapter status on our own. AFSCME has decided to hold a founding Convention for a Statewide Chapter (Chapter 255) in Lansing, MI on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at the Plumbers & Pipe-fitters Union Hall located at 5405 S. MLK Jr. Blvd, Lansing, MI 48911. Coffee and donuts will be served from 9:00 am until 10:00 am with the Convention beginning at 10:00 am. We are urging all members of the Sub-Chapter who are able to attend this important meeting to fill out a registration form to attend. We have arranged for buses to caravan up to Lansing. The gathering point will be at the UAW Local 182 parking lot located at 35603 Plymouth Road, Livonia, MI 48150. If you are interested in riding on the bus, it is imperative that you contact Mary Etta Krelau (email@example.com) as soon as possible so that she can make sure we have enough space on the bus. She will need your name, phone number and e-mail address. Once arrangements for the buses has been finalized you will be notified about the specific details. Everyone who plans on attending must send in the attached form to register. The completed form must be returned to Michigan AFSCME Retiree Chapter 255, 6035 Executive Drive, Suite 104, Lansing, MI 48906 no later than Monday, October 23, 2017. It is very important that we have as much participation as possible so that we have a voice in how this Statewide Chapter operates and who the officers of the organization are, as we are one of the largest and most financed Sub-Chapters in the State.
August 8, 2017
Update from attorney Jamil Akhtar and Legal Decision from Judge Smith denying CEO Evans from implementing his new Retirement Board without a vote of the citizens of Wayne County, a win for all Wayne County Employees and Retirees.
July 11, 2017
We are providing an update letter from Jamil Akhtar, attorney for the Wayne County Retiree Association, on the outstanding litigation he is working on. Due to our affiliation with the Retiree Association we have also been provided with this update and the Executive Board of Sub-Chapter 38 has approved distribution of this update.
AFSCME Sub-Chapter 38 sponsored an estate planning seminar put on by Miller Cohen. If you were unable to attend or would like a copy of the presentation, Miller Cohen, has graciously provided us with a copy of the presentation. If you would like to meet with a representative to discuss creating a personal plan for yourself, please contact, Jeremy F. Fisher, Of-Counsel Attorney, Miller Cohen, PLC, 8200 Old 13 Mile Rd, Warren, MI 48093, (800) 221-6021.
Monday afternoon May 15, 2017, Judge Smith heard oral arguments on the County Commission’s Motion to Intervene and re-name the plaintiff (to “Wayne County Executive” instead of just “Wayne County”) and on the Retirement Commission and County Executive’s Motions for a declaratory ruling regarding the need for a Charter amendment before the County Executive can implement a new Retirement Commission. Judge Smith granted the County Commission’s Motion to Intervene but denied their motion to re-name the plaintiff. Oral arguments on the remaining motions went after 4:30 pm (when the Judge’s courtroom closes for the day). Judge Smith took both motions under advisement and indicated that she will issue an opinion, either written or call us back in and read her opinion into the record, at a later date. As soon as we have more information we will provide you with another update.
We appreciate the support of the retirees who attended the hearing. There were approximately 40-50 attendees.
May 10, 2017 UPDATE
The Circuit Court hearing that was scheduled for Friday, May 12, 2017 regarding the CEO’s lawsuit against the Retirement System to impose his own Board of Trustees has been rescheduled for Monday, May 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm in Judge Leslie Kim Smith’s courtroom in the Coleman A Young Municipal Building (City-County Building) on the 9th Floor. We urge all retirees who can attend to try to make this hearing to show your support. Hopefully we will have so many retirees present that we will overflow into the hallways.
May 4, 2017 UPDATE
On Thursday, May 4, 2017, after much debate, the Wayne County Commission adopted the attached Resolution regarding the Lawsuit filed by the Wayne County Executive against the Wayne County Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, in an attempt to seat his newly defined Board. The Commission intervened on the side of the Retirement System. We thank all those who helped make this action possible, including the Commissioners who supported us. Although this is just the beginning of this battle, it is definitely a good win for the retirees!
April 19, 2017 UPDATE
Greetings to All,
I believe it is appropriate to say MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY!
Attached is an email I sent out earlier this morning to the Allen Park Retirees Association members regarding the Governor’s Task Force on “Responsible Reform for Local Government” As we all know this is nothing more than a nefarious movement, being pushed by Doug DeVos, meant to crush unions, collective bargaining, PERA, Act 312, and to strip as much as possible from current and future retiree pensions and OPEBs. We cannot allow this to happen.
Regardless of whether you are a current or former member of a public sector union, or the UAW, AFL-CIO, AFSMCE, AFT, MFT, TEAMSTERS, or any other union, this will eventually affect you. This is why we must band together in this fight. We may have been, or are, employed by a different governmental unit or private employers. That shouldn’t matter. WE are all union brothers and sisters. Some of your brothers and sisters are in trouble, now, and need your help. It’s my belief that we all either stand together, and stop this “reform” or we are all going to fall separately.
Please feel free to forward this email to your memberships, friends, families, unions, and anybody else you know that will fight with us.
There is a very clear and present danger, to all of us, coming directly from Lansing. You’ll recall police and fire unions converged on Lansing last December 6th, during the ‘lame duck’ session, to protest some pending, and very quietly sponsored legislation, directed at teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public-sector, active and retired, employees that was discovered almost too late to stop it. It would have taken most of the local bargaining rights from unions, given them to the State of Michigan, and impacted our pensions and healthcare benefits. We were successful in halting those bills. We knew they would regroup and come back at us, even harder, in the new legislative session.
We were correct. We now have confirmed that the lame duck push, referenced above, was simply 50% of the total agenda from the West Side of the State. You need to hear and understand this. I make no apologies if this offends you. This next sentence has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with our futures. The republican controlled Executive Office and Legislature, directed and driven by Doug DeVos of the Western Michigan Forum and Amway fame, is about to abolish unions, contracts, collective bargaining, and PERA in this State, forever. That is the truth and an indisputable fact. http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/09/28/michigan-forum-devos-family-target-pension-reform/91241584/
It is obvious that after we stopped last December’s attack the Governor and his Executive Staff realized the only way to try and restrain the legislature was to offer substantial changes in pensions and all retiree health care. A small, and very determined, group has been working slowly and diligently since the new session of the legislature began. The Governor’s Office had scheduled 6 meetings of the “Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force”. (The name is made to sound as innocent and innocuous as the ‘Right to Work Law’ that was enacted last year-in reality it’s anything BUT the right to work.) The final meeting of the “Task Force” took place Friday, April the 7th.
Due to some, but not yet enough, resistance being received in Lansing from some cities, townships, counties, unions, and people like you and me, an additional ‘make or break’ Task Force meeting was added. There is one final meeting scheduled for this Friday April the 21st. If enough negative pressure can be applied now, we can stop any “recommended” legislation from being introduced on a time table to be passed and signed by the summer recess. Keep this in mind; there is a very, very strong emphasis to ‘ram’ through this legislation before summer recess, to put it behind the upcoming local elections this year, but more importantly the Statewide elections in 2018. They are banking on our ‘short memories’ by the time we get to the ballot box. I cannot speak for you, but I myself will NEVER forget how the republican party has treated all of us.
If the actions of the “Task Force” are not stopped, each one of us will be losing some, or possibly all, of our retirements and benefits. This will negatively impact all active or retired police officers, firefighters, teachers, school employees, and any other public-sector employee in the State of Michigan forever. I want to reemphasize that. THIS WILL EFFECT EVERYONE RETIRED OR ACTIVE FOREVER.
It is believed that, eventually, this could impact the pension checks we all receive monthly. For active public-sector employees, you stand to lose even more. For those of you in other unions and the private sector, standby, you’re next. Do not fool yourselves, what happens to us will eventually happen to you. You need to be onboard in this effort too.
Don’t think this is not your problem. IT IS!!! It’s all of ours. Yours, mine, our family’s, and those coming after us. After we have given years of honorable service to our respective communities, and its’ citizens, our mutually agreed upon retirement benefits are under attack all because our cities consistently failed to, or refused to, fund those liabilities as they should have all the long. We held up our end of the bargain. Now that its time for them to hold up their end, they’re refusing to do so and want to take that from us. I am very angry and outraged You should be too. If you’re not, get your pulse checked, you’ve got a problem.
They are so certain this will pass, the State has already, very quietly, created the Municipal Benefits Board. The Board’s sole purpose will be to take control of those Cities that are deemed to have financial issues, as defined by the new legislation which is about to be acted on, impacting benefits for retirees and active employees alike.
We have learned some of the things they are planning to do to us through our association’s attorney, Mark Porter, who aptly states “The curtain has been pulled back and the real agenda is now apparent”.
Here are just some of the changes the “Task Force” will be recommending in upcoming legislation:
- Collective bargaining on pension/OPEBs eliminated – see the State Dept of Treasury “Corrective Action Plan” Choices are:
- Reduce benefits under a State “consent” plan;
- A “local vote” to “increase taxes” or “reduce pension/OPEB benefits.” (**Do you REALLY think the residents of your City will vote to increase their taxes for YOUR benefits? I DO NOT!! Dale Covert**)
- Entry into State-controlled PA 436. That means that PERA will be again gutted, to create prohibited subjects of bargaining for retirement pension and OPEB benefits ***(PERA, or the Public Employment Relations Act provides, among other things, the right to collective bargaining, unfair labor practice resolution, mediation for contracts and grievances, fact finding, Act 312, grievance arbitration, etc. This would pretty much eliminate all unions and union rights-Dale Covert) ***
- What does that do to the supposed constitutional “protections” on pension payment reductions? (At this point, it is unknown, but based upon what is happening it is the only logical conclusion. Our money is next-Dale Covert).
- “Percentage” of local budgets’ general fund over 10%for pensions; 12% for OPEBs. How much are each of your communities at or below those levels? How many communities Statewide are above that threshold? *** (This means your community does NOT have to pay over that percentage, EVER. Even if that means there’s a shortfall in payments which will then initiate the “Trigger System as outlined below and allows the State to take over Dale Covert) ***
- Is the trigger a system below 60%-pension funded ORthe percent of benefits compared to the general fund of the city-county-township?
- Is the trigger a system below 40%-OPEB funded OR the percent of benefits compared to the general fund or the city-county-township?
- Does the same State takeover occur if either system drops below those levels – or only if the two levels combined at 22%? It looks like either system’s “funding” for State control.
- Keep in mind that revenue and expenses [including retirement] for non-general fund programs like roads and water are separatefrom general funding. Are those employees being lumped into the so-called analysis?
- What happens when local communities have bonded – but the bonded/funding is still far below the levels stated above?
- The “newly-created” Municipal Benefits Board – meaning that the proposed legislation creating the MBB has already been written. Why was that proposed legislation not distributed to the Task Force?
- Will the MBB also clean up the STATE’S mess for this fiscal year?
- $10-Million gap in funding because the pension system rate of return had to be lowered to 5%? Climbing to $350-Million in 2019?
- $143-Million gap in State retiree OPEBs, found by the State Auditor?
I cannot begin to emphasize how critically important this is, to all of us, to stop the “Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government” Task Force and its’ forthcoming “recommended’ legislation. Remember, the Governor’s “Task Force” has just one task and one task only. That is to crush unions, contracts, and strip away as much from current and future retirees, statewide, as possible. Why this is such a hot issue with Doug DeVos, who is driving this “reform”, is not known.
It is up to us to stop this from happening. Nobody else will. Nobody is coming to our rescue. This is our pensions and other post employment benefits (OPEB), namely healthcare, we are talking about. In other words, our financial futures.
What can you do? To start, share this email with all active and retired public service sector employees you know. Are you currently in or retired from a union? Share this with them. They have a stake in this too.
Call your Michigan State Senators and Representatives, everyday, and let them know that you’ll never vote for them, or anybody from their party again, if they support and enact any of the legislation proposed by the “Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force”. Get your family and neighbors involved. If you live in another state, you can still call and voice your concern. Ask family members, who still reside in Michigan, to take up your cause also. Not sure who your senator or representive is or how to contact them? Use these links to find yours http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html http://house.michigan.gov/mhrpublic/
Email them, write them, request a face to face meeting with them at their local office. They all have at least one monthly coffee hour in their district. You can find out where and when by using the links above. (All the information you need to know is on their individual websites). Go there, voice your opinion LOUDLY. Let them know that this is not an issue for the State of Michigan to control. We don’t need anything proposed by the “Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force”. These are collective bargaining rights, and as such, are best left and addressed at the local level NOT placed under State control. Be heard. Make them know who YOU are. More importantly, make them know that you’re not going to stand for this.
Contact the leadership of the Senate and the House. Let them know you are not going to stand for this. You can find all the information for the leaderships at these two links: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/leadership.html http://house.michigan.gov/leadership.asp
Each and everyone of us has a huge stake in this. Retirees and active employees alike. If we are to stop this travesity, this open assault upon retirees and union workers, then each of us has an individual responsibility to ourselves, and each other, to take an active part to stop this dead in its’ tracks.
If YOU are NOT willing to get into this fight, then you are part of the problem.
April 14, 2017 UPDATE
The Wayne County Executive has filed a Lawsuit against the Wayne County Employees’ Retirement System Board of Commissioners requesting that the Court require the Retirement System Board to recognize and seat the newly formed Retirement System Board representatives as defined by the Wayne County County Executive under the Consent Agreement that recently was dissolved. There is a hearing tentatively scheduled for April 21, 2017 at 8:30 am in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center located at 2 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, MI; in Judge Leslie Kim Smith’s courtroom in 901 CAYMC. This hearing is to see if the Wayne County Retirees Association can become an intervening party to this action in support of the Retirement System.
We would request that any retirees that are able to attend this hearing to please make your presence be seen by Judge Smith. This issue is of vital importance to all retirees as this change in the make-up of the Retirement Board would give total control of the Retirement System and its investments and policies to the Wayne County Executive rather than to its members. Please watch your e-mails and this web site for any changes to this hearing date. There is also a hearing scheduled on the merits of the case on May 12, 2017. Both parties are currently preparing briefs to be filed with the Court prior to the hearing on May 12.
MARCH 14, 2017 UPDATE
REGARDING TASC DEBIT CARD
M E M O R A N D U M
To: Wayne County Settlement Class Medicare Eligible Retirees
From: Hugh S. Macdonald, Secretary-Treasurer, Wayne County Sub-Chapter 38, AFSCME
Date: February 28, 2017
Re: TASC Debit Master Card
The firm known as TASC has mailed a MasterCard Debit card to Wayne County retirees who were part of the health care settlement class and Medicare eligible only. These class members are receiving a non-taxable monthly stipend of either $130.00 or $135.00 per month, paid by Wayne County, into a Health Reimbursement Arrangement Trust (HRA) at Genesis Employees Benefits. Recently Genesis Employee Benefits was acquired by TASC.
The debit card does offer a retiree an alternative method of accessing their stipend funds but debit card user must be aware that by using this method of reimbursement they are:
- Subject to the terms and conditions on the reverse side of the TASC transmittal letter.
- Relieving the HRA Trustee of its obligation to assure that all reimbursements (draw- downs by debit card) meet the IRS threshold for eligible expenses as defined by the IRS or that draw-down becomes taxable.
- The debit is not activated until the retiree’s initial attempt at its use.
- Any funds drawn with the debit card will reduce the amount available in the HRA trust account and therefore reduce any prescheduled direct deposit or direct premium arrangement that you may have.
Wayne County has failed to advise us of the apparent elimination of Genesis
Employee Benefits from the stipend bureaucracy and the replacement with TASC. The TASC implies that those who had established electronic account access with Genesis must now do so with TASC.
Wayne County Retiree Sub-Chapter 38, AFSCME cannot offer any advice other that for each and every retiree to carefully consider the possible results from using the debit card based upon what little we know at this time. Understand that TASC is the parent company to Cornerstone Municipal Advisory Group, the firm that the coalition of Wayne County retiree organizations has demanded that the County Commissioners fire and the Commission have committed to conducting a hearing concerning our demand. Rest assured that the coalition will be aggressively addressing this matter at that hearing, inquiring about why Wayne County continues to make unilateral changes to out benefits without and notice or retiree input.
We will keep you posted.
INFORMATION FROM HUGH MACDONALD
NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ON WHAT THE LEGISLATURE IS THINKING
Michigan Leads Effort To Shift Workers Away From Pensions
By: David Eggert – The Associated Press – February 05, 2017
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Struggling under the weight of pension and health care obligations, Michigan lawmakers appear ready to take another whack at public employee benefits — a move that reflects renewed determination to shift workers to 401(k)-style retirement systems, even if it happens in baby steps.
Other states have made more modest changes, but the latest push shows that conservatives want to approve big reforms 20 years after Michigan became the first state to close pensions to future state workers. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is pressing to address $14 billion in unfunded liabilities, mostly from retiree medical costs, spread across more than 330 communities.
“As a state, we cannot get ahead if too many of our local communities have problems,” he said.
The proposals could serve as a national blueprint, and they will provoke a pitched battle with public unions that are desperate to preserve traditional benefits.
Michigan is taking a leading role because of its size and the fact that GOP legislators and Snyder turned what was once a stronghold of organized labor into a right-to-work state. They also forced teachers and state employees to contribute a portion of their paychecks to avoid receiving smaller pensions in retirement.
After ending pensions for new state workers in the late 1990s, Republican legislators are now considering moving all newly hired teachers and local government workers to 401(k)-type plans and cutting municipal retiree health benefits. Just one other state, Alaska, has ended teacher pensions.
The governor, a former accountant and venture capitalist, has not outlined specific retirement proposals other than to be cool to shifting new teachers away from pensions because of the large upfront costs. But he warns that if nothing is done, retiree obligations — especially medical costs — will squeeze city budgets further and jeopardize basic services.
Influential conservatives point to Detroit, where thousands of people had their pensions cut by 4.5% in the bankruptcy. Annual cost-of-living increases were eliminated, and health coverage was replaced with a monthly stipend to buy insurance through the federal exchanges.
“If any more of the cities go bankrupt, their workers are not going to get what they were promised. That’s just not fair,” said John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam Medical in Grand Rapids, who led an informal task force that Snyder formed to study the issue. He is also a board member at the West Michigan Policy Forum, a group of business leaders and GOP donors that has listed unfunded retirement costs as its top priority.
Municipal officials are eager to see changes, too. 2
“This is essentially a mortgage crisis. We can’t afford our payments, and they’re ballooning,” said Port Huron City Manager James Freed, who worries that his town of 29,000 people an hour’s drive outside of Detroit will have to cut spending by up to 20% in coming years if nothing is done.
“We’ve already gone through 10 years of budget cuts,” Freed said. “At this point we’re not talking about cutting services. We’re talking about eliminating services.”
Options that may be considered in the Legislature include prohibiting retiree health benefits from being a subject of collective bargaining, capping how much local governments pay toward retiree medical insurance and eliminating traditional coverage in retirement for new workers in favor of contributions toward tax-deferred accounts, which is already in effect for new teachers and state employees.
Critics say the state should not intervene in local labor contracts and describe the push as an attack on police and firefighters who risk their lives and typically must retire earlier than other workers.
“We thought what we had was bought and paid for,” said 56-year-old Monty Nye, who retired from the Meridian Township Fire Department outside Lansing two years ago.
An officer in the statewide union, Nye said some new hires have already ceased to qualify for health care in retirement and will receive smaller pensions. Veteran firefighters agreed to smaller pay raises to keep intact the size of their pension, he said.
Nye said he pays $800 a month for his family’s health insurance — half of the premium. He also challenged a contention by Republicans that millennial workers prefer 401(k) systems because the plans are portable from job to job.
“That might be people that are looking to move around in the corporate world,” Nye said. “But the people that go to fire departments go there for the stability of the job.”
A pension, he said, lets first responders retire no matter how the stock market is faring.
“You don’t want some 65-year-old firefighter trying to drag your butt out of a burning house,” he said.
Oklahoma and Alaska are the only other states besides Michigan where new state employees are in mandatory 401(k)-style plans, which have been common in the private sector for many years.
If Michigan were to shift all new local workers and teachers to 401(k)-style plans, “it would be the first large state that’s taken that kind of action. People would certainly look closely at it,” said Greg Mennis, who studies public-sector retirement systems for the Pew Charitable Trusts. 3
The drive comes as President Donald Trump’s administration explores how to implement at the federal level parts of a Wisconsin law that all but eliminated collective bargaining for public-sector unions in that state, according to Gov. Scott Walker.
Michigan conservatives are determined to take action.
“At some point, the political resolve needs to be applied to this problem,” said Sen. Phil Pavlov, a Republican from St. Clair, north of Detroit.
Democrats say they are willing to talk about easing long-term liabilities but not without also discussing cuts in state revenue that have contributed to local budget woes.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint said it would be foolish to rush bills while there is so much uncertainty over the future of the federal health care law and Medicare in the GOP-controlled Congress.
“You can’t talk about cutting benefits for teachers and firefighters … and expect the federal government to come in,” he said. “After what their plans are, people are going to be more economically insecure.”
Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert.
Leadership Meeting Recap,
January 13, 2017
35603 Plymouth Road
The Leadership minutes are recorded to help the Recording Secretary to produce minutes for each meeting. These recorded, minutes shall be disposed of as soon as reasonable possible. These minutes are not intended to be an actual verbatim record of the proceedings but are summarized notes of the agenda items, makers of the motions, supporter of the motions, votes and lengthy discussions.
Meeting called to Order by Hugh Macdonald who welcomed all.
Eugene Wright, Why we are here:
To unite all Michigan retirees and future retirees to stop the politicians who have decide that our years of not taking pay raises, nor increasing our wages in lieu of promises of health care in the future was for not. These same politicians want to break us, whether you’re a municipal or county worker all of us are going to feel their meat cleavers attack our EARNED health care. If we don’t stand up and fight now:
To share ideas and resources.
To find common ground.
Larger group larger voice.
Politicians must consider us (retirees) before they make their decisions that affect us.
To travel as one group.
Develop a strategy to move forward.
Our only obstacle is division, which must not occur.
Introduction of WCRA officers.
Introductions of Ron Yee, Jim Sockolosky,
Legislature trying to roll it all back to civil servants, not public workers
Ground rules, for speaking to group
Ask any question, with your name first.
Dale Covert, Allen Park
We have the same adversary, the State of Michigan
The un or underfunding of health are the same politicians that now want us to pay the price for their mistakes
Taxing of pensions
A state mandate to fund, wages and health care for workers
We are not responsible, we did nothing wrong
The total legislative body was asked to join us, only John Chirkun appeared
All W C commissioners were invited to join us, only Jewel Ware appeared
Charles Kaminski, Lincoln Park
His background to lengthy to print, very well qualified
He eats and breaths this stuff
His CBA promised health care
An EM took all health care away
We are here to fight this
Michigan Association of Retired Public Employees. Open to any governmental retiree. 2000 members.
Tim Reynolds, City of Wayne
New communities, of developing communities should be approached to let them know what will lie ahead of them in the future
14 mills increase failed
We have to unite all governmental retirees in MI
Michael Van Overbeke, MAPERS
Represent 115 public employee retirement systems
Full time lobbyist
Lame duck attempts
Represent some 250,000 retirees
Lansing is coming after retiree health care
Nick Ciaramitaro, Director of Public Policy for Council 25
Contact your Legislature personally. Have them know your face
John Chirkun, State Representative
Defeat with numbers
The legislature in place now is more conservative
Tell your friends and neighbors what is going on with your health care
Shrink government, by voodoo economics
Every single Democratic Legislature is behind us
Us the media
Go on the offensive
Fight not over they are coming for us
She will help when needed
WCRA has a good plan
Bob Stevenson, MI Association of Chiefs of Police
If these cuts go through who will take a job as police officer, this now becomes a matter of public safety
Get to know your legislature
He represents 4 different retiree groups
Our problem is not Washington D.C. but Lansing MI
Go to MI Treasures web site, audit or annual report, UAAL, funded pension, fiduciary report
Q and A
- Frank Green, How to get members to help?
- Nick Ciaramititaro, Keep them informed
- Tim Reynolds, when meeting candidates ask very specific questions on exactly the stand on an issue.
- Kathy Kanable, use our web site for information
Shirley Lightskey, Detroit Retired City Employees Association
Inform the members
Do whatever it takes
They are coming at all of us with a cleaver, not a scalpel
We must stop them politically
Threaten that you will never vote their political party ever again
Caroline Ross, State chair Local 6000
Has 1200 retirees will help
Phone/contact your legislature
Develop a strategy
A small group, a hub
Info in-info out
Bob Sisler UAW Region 1E and Local 6000
Town hall meetings
Follow the $$$, i.e.; BCBS
Email to all members w/ all info
Mobilize the public
One message from all retiree groups, all unions
Communication to all
How to handle elected officials
This involves all public retirees and workers
Frank Green, Washtenaw County association Retired School Personnel,
March on the capita
Try and get 150.000 retirees to show our strength
Michael Van Overbeke,
5 basic principals
One voice, one message
Do not forget retirees and active employees are all one
Contact your legislature, in person. Name with a face.
David Harvey, Garden City,
Will volunteer for anything to help out
George Brumbaugh, Macomb County Retirees Association,
Have 2,600 (?) retirees to help in anyway
Recommended first steps:
* DEVELOP UNIFIED STATEMENT FOR THE LEADERSHIP GROUP AND 5 POINT STRATEGY FOR ACCOMPLISHING OUR GOALS.
*DRAFT A CONCISE LETTER TO REPRESENTATIVES STATING OUR OBJECTION TO ANY CUTS IN RETIREE HEALTH AND PENSION BENEFITS AND REQUESTING THAT MUNICIPAL RETIREE AND EMPLOYEE GROUPS BE REPRESENTED IN ANY DISCUSSIONS OR LEGISLATION BEING CONSIDERED
* DIVIDE ALL OUR GROUPS BY DISTRICTS – PROVIDE THE LEADERSHIP OF EACH ORGANIZATION WITH THE LETTER AND THE INFORMATION OF WHERE TO MAIL, EMAIL OR CALL LETTER (LOCAL COUNTY AND STATE REPS) AND HAVE
LEADERSHIP DISTRIBUTE LETTER AND INFO TO THEIR MEMBERSHIP WITH REQUEST TO ACT IMMEDIATELY
* COMMUNICATE TO MEMBERS HOW TO VOTE – BASED ON HOW THEIR LOCAL COUNTY AND STATE REPRESENTATIVES VOTE. NO MORE TICKET/PARTY VOTING. IF REPS IGNORE MUNICIPAL RETIREE/EMPLOYEE GROUPS – MAKE IT PUBLIC AND OUT THEY GO.
Dave Harvey – Garden City
Randi Lorenzeiti Garden City
Chris Johnson – City of Wayne
Frank Green – MARSP
George Braumbaugh – Macomb County
Bob Sisler, Local 6000
Rodger Webb Saginaw
Lorenzo Blount Government Administrative Association
Betty Misuraca WC Retirement Commissioner
Caroline Ross State Chair for local 6000
Adjourned 3:32 PM
UPDATE OF FEDERAL LAWSUIT
Wayne County Retirees Association
Court Hearing, December 20, 2016, Hon. Judith Levy
On Tuesday, December 20, 2016, attorney Mark Porter and I appeared before Judge Judith Levy in the matter of Wayne County/Warren Evans motion to dismiss our lawsuit against Wayne County, as it relates to the implementation of the high deductible medical insurance plan and the issue as to whether Warren Evans has the right to remove our elected retiree representatives on the Wayne County Employees Retirement Board of Directors and replace them with his own people.
After approximately two hours of oral arguments, the court advised the parties that, in all probability, she would dismiss the lawsuit relating to the composition of the retirement board, and allow the parties to refile the lawsuit in the Wayne county Circuit Court, and let the state court determine who has control of our pension funds.
As it relates to Evans implementing, on January 1, 2016, the high deductible medical insurance plan (HDHP), without giving notice to the retirees, it is my belief that after listening to the court’s comments, the court will grant the county’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit and force us to take an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio.
It is also my understanding, based upon the court’s comments from the bench, that the court, after reviewing the language in the retirement provisions of the collective bargaining agreements, will make a determination that Evans had the right to implement the high deductible health care plan; this is not what we bargained for, because the same article of the contract caps our cost at no more than 10 percent of the cost relating to medical insurance and further, the contracts only allows the cost of medical insurance to be increased by no more than 10 percent per year, up to age 60, at which time the cost of medical insurance paid by the retiree is frozen until you become Medicare eligible. As I stated, this is speculation on my part based upon my understanding of the court’s comments from the bench. We will wait to see what the court states in its final written opinion, which we anticipate to be delivered after January 15, 2017. As soon as the court’s order comes down, we will notify you accordingly.
All this litigation could become a moot issue if the legislature, when it comes back in session in February, adopts new laws which would do away with retiree medical insurance. The Wayne County Retirees Association is moving aggressively forward in preparing for this battle. On January 13, 2017, the Wayne County Retirees Association and its affiliated retiree group will be hosting an informational meeting where we have invited retiree groups from across the state of Michigan, in preparing for this battle. A special newsletter will be published after this meeting, to give you full information as to what action has been taken by the consolidated retiree groups.
Attorney for Wayne County Retirees Association
REMINDER ABOUT THE DECEMBER 20, 2016
FEDERAL COURT HEARING
Just a reminder that Judge Levy will be holding a hearing on several issues that affect Wayne County Employees and Retirees. We are asking all retirees that are able to attend to drive to Ann Arbor on Tuesday, December 20, 2016. The hearing is in Judge Levy’s Court Room located at 200 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI. The hearing starts at 1:00 pm. If you wish to car pool, the Sub-Chapter has made arrangements for people to park their cars at the UAW Hall 182 located at 35603 Plymouth Road, Livonia, MI 48150. (Please park in the back part of the lot).
IMPORTANT UPDATE NOVEMBER 19, 2016
FEDERAL COURT HEARING
Just got a message from our attorneys. After today’s (11/18/16) call to the Judge in preparation for the November 21, 2016 court hearing, Judge Levy postponed the hearing until December 20, 2016 at 1:00 PM in her courtroom in the federal courthouse at 200 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor. We will keep you updated as best possible.
Please pass the word on.
Hugh S. Macdonald, Secretary-Treasurer
Wayne County, Michigan, Retiree Sub-Chapter 38, AFSCME
November 9, 2016 Update
The next meeting of the Wayne County Sub-Chapter 38 will be held on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at the UAW Hall 182 located at 35603 Plymouth Road, Livonia, MI 48150. It will begin at 1:00 pm with a light lunch served prior to the meeting.
The Motion to Dismiss hearing in the Federal Lawsuit in front of Judge Levy will be heard on Monday, November 21, 2016 in the Ann Arbor Federal Courthouse at 1:00 pm, 200 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI. We urge all members that are able to attend, to please show up at the Courthouse. We need to have a show of support to hopefully have Judge Levy not dismiss the case and set a date to hear the merits of the case. John McCall has obtained permission for members to park their cars in the UAW Hall 182 parking lot if you need a meeting place to car pool to Ann Arbor. You will need to set up your own car pool but can use the parking lot as a convenient meeting place.
October 11, 2016 Update
The Next Meeting of the Wayne County Sub-Chapter 38 will be held on the first Tuesday of November (November 1, 2016) due to Election Day on November 8, 2016
The Motion to Dismiss hearing in the Federal Lawsuit in front of Judge Levy will be heard on Monday, November 21, 2016 in the Ann Arbor Federal Courthouse at 1:00 pm. We urge all members that are able to attend, to please show up at the Courthouse. We need to have a show of support to hopefully have Judge Levy not dismiss the case and set a date to hear the merits of the case. John McCall is attempting to set up a car pool from the UAW Hall 182. More information on this will be provided at the November 1, 2016 meeting. We will also post any additional information of a car pool on this page.
Representatives from Senior Benefits Group (Paul Sizeland (810) 923-0855 and Jim Neil (734) 657-4797) made a presentation to the membership and will be available to assist members to find the best possible retiree healthcare coverage based on your specific needs at the November meeting. If you are not sure if you have the best healthcare coverage at the best price, this is an opportunity to have someone assist you and there is no cost to receive this helpful service. If you can’t make the meeting and are interested in getting assistance, you can call them directly.
The County has not increased the stipend for Non-Medicare retirees as they said they would (pursuant to the Settlement Agreement) in the October check. We are hoping it will be processed in Nov or possibly Dec.
For information purposes only, we have attached a list of Michigan Coordinated Campaign Field Offices if you are interested in volunteering to assist in various election campaigns, please contact the appropriate office.
Faith Cairgle was re-elected to the Trustee position for a 3-year term. Congratulations Faith.
September 13, 2016 Update
The Next Meeting of the Wayne County Sub-Chapter 38 will be held on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at the UAW Hall 182, located at 35603 Plymouth Road. The meeting will begin at 1:00 pm with a light lunch served before the meeting. There will be an election for 1 Trustee member at the meeting. (Faith Cairgle is running for re-election). Nominations will be taken from the floor for anyone interested in running for this position with an election to follow if necessary.
Representatives from Senior Benefits Group (Paul Sizeland (810) 0855 and Jim Neil (734) 657-4797) made a presentation to the membership and will be available to assist members to find the best possible retiree healthcare coverage based on your specific needs at the October meeting. There will also be another group who will be making a short presentation at the October meeting and will also be available to assist you. If you are not sure if you have the best healthcare coverage at the best price, this is an opportunity to have someone assist you and there is no cost to receive this helpful service. If you can’t make the meeting and are interested in getting assistance, you can call them directly.
If you are not covered by Medicare and are receiving a monthly stipend in your pension check, you must return the verification of income form sent to you by the County. It must be returned to Cornerstone Municipal by Wednesday, September 28, 2016 or you may be denied future stipend payments!
Council 25 is looking for volunteers to work on behalf of endorsed candidates. Phone banking will begin on Monday, September 19, 2016 and will continue thru Election Day. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Lorna Davison at Lornadavidson741@yahoo.com or firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, September 23, 2016. If you have questions please contact Jaime Cloud at (313) 964-1711 or Lorna Davidson at (313) 401-9855.
The November membership meeting will be held on the first Tuesday of November (November 1, 2016) and not the 2nd Tuesday (November 8, 2016) due to Election Day. Please remember to change your calendars to reflect the new meeting date.
INFORMATION ON COUNTY DENTAL COVERAGE
Wayne County will no longer be offering Dental coverage through the County. You will be receiving a packet in the mail in late July or early August, from the County, providing enrollment information in three Dental Plan Options. These plans will be specifically between you and the provider however the rates were negotiated on a “Group Plan Rate”. You can have the deduction taken from your pension benefit check (if you are receiving a check) or make arrangement to make direct payments to the Plan Sponsor. The tentative date for these changes to become effective is October 1, 2016. There will be representatives available at the next Sub-Chapter Meeting on August 9, 2016 to provide additional information and sign retirees up.
NEW INFORMATION FROM HUGH MACDONALD
RE: Wayne County Retirees Association
SPECIAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
WAYNE COUNTY RETIREE ASSOCIATION
THIS MEETING WILL FOLLOW THE REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETING
OF THE WAYNE COUNTY SUB-CHAPTER 38 MEETING
JULY 12TH, 2016 @ 3:PM
Ford Local 182 UAW Hall
35603 Plymouth Rd. Livonia, MI 48150
This Special Meeting will cover the latest developments as they affect each and every Wayne County Retiree. ALL WC Retirees are encouraged to attend this IMPORTANT MEETING, ask questions of our legal counsel and LEARN HOW TOGETHER we can stop this assault on our pensions and benefits. UNITED is the only way we will continue to stand. You don’t want to miss this meeting or this opportunity to find out the newest developments and information.
WATCH for additional details of this event in your email and in the newsletter being mailed to your homes today.
SPECIAL MEMBER MEETING
WAYNE COUNTY RETIREE ASSOCIATION
UPDATE ON FEDERAL LAWSUIT
JUNE 18, 2016
The Members of the Wayne County Retirees Association
This letter is to advise you that we were in front of the Judge Judith Levy of the United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan as it relates to our request for an injunction, attempting to stop Evans from taking the following action:
1. Removing the members of the Wayne County Retirement Commission who were voted into office by you as it relates to the two retiree representatives and who placed his appointees on the retirement board which would give him a absolute majority to control our retirement funds:
2. Requesting the Court to enter an injunction stopping Evans from 10% to 25% and
3. Stopping any further implementation of the high deductible medical insurance plan (HDHP) where retirees who have a family plan are required to pay $2,600 before any medical insurance benefits kick in.
The Court ruled as to our request to stop Evans from taking any action, as it relates to the taking over the Retirement Board, that the matter was not ripe for a decision, because the County Commission has not been presented with any reorganization plans by the County Executive, for the purpose of Evans taking over the pension board. In March of 2016 Evans requested the County Commission to approve his appointee to the Retirement Board, this appointee is not authorized under the County Charter; the County Charter identifies the members of the retirement commission as
1. The County Executives Representative
2. The Chairman of the Wayne county Board of Commissioners
3. Four Elected Active County Employees
4. Two retiree members elected by the Retirees
As you will recall, in March of 2016, the County Board of Commissioners, at its Committee of the Whole meeting, voted to seat Evan’s Appointee. The officers of the newly formed Wayne County Retiree’s Association met with many of the Commissioners and advised them that Evans was trying to con them into approving his
new Retirement Board and if they voted to seat his new appointee to the Retirement Board, they in fact would be authorizing him to proceed with reorganizing the retirement commission and thereby removing one of our two Retiree Representatives; in addition to one of the Active Employee Representatives. On a vote of 14-0 the Board of Commissioners sided with the Retirees and denied Evan’s appointment.
As to the implementation of the Medical Insurance Premiums from 10% to 25%, here again the Retirees got their act together, showed up at the Wayne County Commission meeting and we were able to convince the County Commissioners, that they should not approve the increase in medical insurance premiums from 10% to 25%.
Therefore, as to these two issues the Court ruled that it could not enter an injunction in that neither the County Commission nor Evans have taken any action to implement changes to the composition of the pension board or to implement the increase in medical insurance premiums from 10% to 25%
The last issue was the implementation of the high deductible health care plan (HDHP) which took effect on May 1st and which required retirees with two members on the policy to pay up to $2,600.00 per year for medical and prescription benefits before any of the County insurance kicks in. The Court was advised that the active County employees were receiving up to $1,300.00 in cash payments to help defray the costs of the high deductible insurance plan (HDHP); therefore, for the first time in Wayne County history, retirees are paying more for the same medical benefits then are the active county employees.
On Friday, June 10, 2016 the Court had a conference call with the attorneys over the fact that they Wayne County Retirees Association wanted to have witnesses at the hearing; the Witnesses would testify as to the hardships they were confronted with by the implementation of the high deductible health care plan (HDHP, that this hardship constituted irreparable harm. The Court ordered that no witnesses would be allowed to testify, because of the affidavits filed by the Retirees Association, showed that there was in fact irreparable harm; therefore, the court would not allow any witnesses. However, at the hearing held yesterday, the Court ruled that the Affidavits were ineffective in proving irreparable harm!!
We will now proceed with taking the depositions of several of the individuals who presented affidavits to the Court, in order that they can testify to how the high deductible plan has affected their ability to purchase health insurance and or how the purchasing of health insurance has dramatically affects their ability to pay their living expenses.
We will be moving ahead aggressively to set up depositions.
As it now stands, we in fact, as a united group of retiree associations, have been successful in stopping Evan’s from implementing the increase of medical insurance premiums from 10% to 25% and most importantly, we have stopped his blatant attempt to take over his personal control of the Wayne County Employees Retirement System and its Board of Directors; however, most importantly, stopping Evans from taking control of the nearly one billion dollars in cash assets, which are being managed by the present Board. It would appear had Evan’s been able to get control of our pension funds, that the real estate developers of Downtown Detroit would be standing in line with one hand out asking for money and with the other hand making large political contributions to the Evan’s machine. Hopefully this will never happen.
Attorney for the Wayne County Retirees Association
What would you do if you found out your pension plan was under attack?
Where would you go if the Wayne County Commission wanted to eliminate your inflation equity payment, our so-called “13th check”?
Who would you call if the folks in Washington , DC, voted to eliminate Medicare as we know it and tried to slash your Social Security benefits?
If you are anything like the hundreds of Wayne County retirees, chances are that your first call would be to the Wayne County Retiree Sub-Chapter 38, AFSCME. We are a strong, active group – committed to defending the retirement security of Wayne County retirees.
But we can’t do it without your help. Will you stand with us and become a member today?
By joining our retiree organization, you join other government retirees who refuse to lie down and let our retirement benefits be taken away – benefits you earned after a career of service to the people of Wayne County!
The AFSCME Wayne County Retirees is part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO – the largest and most experienced public service union in the U.S. with 1.6 million members including nearly 250,000 retirees nationwide.
Our top priority is protecting the integrity of the Wayne County Employees Retirement System. And so far, we have been very successful. For example, several years ago the office of the Wayne County Executive said the County Commissioners should cut the inflation equity payment that retirees receive each year. This is our so-called “13th check” – the extra end-of-year payment you receive to help with cost-of-living increases. The proposal would have affected every single pensioner of the Wayne County retirement system…and would have cost you up to $900 each year, depending on your years of service and years in retirement.
When we heard the Wayne County commissioners would vote on this issue, we issued a “call to action”. More the 100 of our members and allies packed the commission chambers to speak out against the pension cut. And guess what? We won that round! The commissioners voted to maintain your inflation equity payment.
But when Wayne County passed an ordinance looting our inflation equity fund, we had to change from a field strategy to a legal strategy. The trustees of the Wayne County Employees’ Retirement System (two of whom are members of the AFSCME Wayne County Retirees) filed suit and so far these efforts have been successful. The Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion setting aside most of the ordinance’s damaging provisions and after an appeal by the County the Michigan Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals decision and remanded the case back to the Circuit Court to implement an order. An order has been drafted and approved by the Circuit Court ordering the repayment of the original 32 million dollars as well as appropriate interest. The County Commission then passed a resolution removing the Inflation Equity Fund from the Retirement Ordinance. The Unions filed an Unfair Labor Charge at MERC and MERC ruled in favor of the Unions. The County appealed to the Circuit Court and the Court has remanded it to Arbitration. We are currently waiting for an arbitration date.
Our retiree sub-chapter went to court when Wayne County unilaterally cut our retiree health care benefits in 2009. A tentative settlement agreement was presented in detail at the Sub-Chapter 38 meeting held on June 9, 2015 and approved unanimously. The County has sent out notices to all affected Class Members regarding the agreement and allowing them an opportunity to object and opt out of the settlement. The process of obtaining replacement health care coverage has been confusing to say the least, but the Sub-Chapter has acted as a voice for the retirees to help resolve many of the problems.
And when the City of Detroit filed for bankruptcy, AFSCME stepped up and defended our members – both retired and working. We challenged the bankruptcy in court and represented our members throughout the long and arduous process. Eventually we reached a deal that was far from perfect but was substantially better than what the folks from Wall Street called for.
Be it organizing our members to write letters, make calls, visit politicians, write letters-to-the editor, form coalitions with other like-minded groups, or take legal action – the AFSCME Wayne County Retirees is THE guardian of Wayne County retirees!
So ask yourself: Isn’t it time you stop standing on the sidelines and get into the game by joining the AFSCME Wayne County Retirees? Simply fill out the authorization form and return it to:
Wayne County Retiree Sub-Chapter 38, AFSCME
600 W. Lafayette Blvd. Suite 500
Detroit, MI 48226