NEA Seeking To Make Changes in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Our Retirement Fund
(April 2, 2016)
NEA management has requested negotiations with the active staff unions—NEASO, AFSE, and NSO-- who signed the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU provides our most reliable guarantee that NEA will continue to work toward full funding of the NEA Retirement Plan by 2021. NEA now wants the unions to agree to a restructuring or even “suspending” this negotiated document-- and hopes to complete the negotiations this month, before the mid-May meeting of the NEA Retirement Board, the 15-member body that administers the Plan.
What is NEA’s rationale?
Derrick Johnson, NEA Human Resources Director, says this move is in response to anticipated dramatic increases in the cost of the Plan due to retirees living longer, stock market declines, and other factors. Currently NEA has provided no specifics of how it proposes to deal with this situation, no documentation for its dire predictions, and—most importantly—no proposal to make sure there will be funds to fully pay our earned pension benefits.
NEA is under financial pressures from a number of directions. We recognize that the loss of members creates financial challenges for the Association. While NEA remains by far the nation’s largest union, there’s no doubt it is feeling the pressure in its budgeting priorities.
NEARO works to stay connected and informed
Since NEA denied NEARO a seat on the Retirement Board in 2012, NEARO leadership must work closely with our partners, NEASO, AFSE, and NSO, to support their efforts to protect the Plan for current active employees and to make sure retirees’ interests are considered and respected. NEARO leaders work very hard to establish and maintain these ties with the staff unions. Last year, using money from our Defense Fund, NEARO hired an independent actuary to analyze what data NEA does provide as a means of determining the validity of NEA's position and to offer alternatives to those who are at the table.
Stay tuned as we monitor this rapidly evolving situation and do our best to advocate on your behalf.
Renew your membership and consider a Defense Fund donation
If you have not done so, right now would be a great time to (re)join NEARO and consider a donation to our Defense Fund. You can do both of these online by going to the left column menu and clicking on “Pay dues and/or defense fund.” Or send your check or money order to Steven Martinez, c/o Steven Martinez, 4904 Ertter Drive, Rockville, MD 20852. Indicate how much is for dues ($15/yr) and how much for the Defense Fund.
For reference, the wording of the MOU and background information about it can be found by clicking here.
New Faces on the NEARO Board of Directors
The terms of NEARO board members Ron Houston of Washington, D.C., Norma Kacen of Arlington, VA, and Pat Orrange of Raleigh, NC, all expired at the end of 2015. Pat sought reelection; Ron and Norma stepped down (thanks for your years of service!).
At NEARO’s December general membership meeting, Carol Adams of Greenbelt, MD, and Edith Jefferson of Clinton, MD, were elected to fill the two board seats reserved for retirees who live within 75 miles of the NEA. Incumbent Pat Orrange was elected to a third term in one of NEARO’s two “geographically unrestricted” board seats.
The three candidates’ statements on why they wished to serve as NEARO leaders can be found in the December 2015 Outreach newsletter.
From the President: Looking Ahead in 2016
Top Priorities: Advocacy, Connections
By Teresa Rankin
In September 2015 your NEARO Board held a one-day retreat and committed to focus on two things for the year ahead.
We feel it is very important to be an independent advocacy organization that works with partners to protect our pension benefits. While we believe NEA and the NEA Retirement Board take their stewardship of the pension plan very seriously, we also know that the perspective, experience, and smarts of people receiving a pension, after years of NEA and affiliate service, are a critical part of any healthy oversight of the Retirement Plan.
Growing and Connecting
Our second focus in 2016 will be to continually expand our connections with NEARO members as we grow our membership. We are building our technical capacity to keep in touch with current member and recruit new ones.
Whether you’re reading Outreach online or in print, this quarterly newsletter will continue to be an excellent vehicle for connecting NEARO members and sharing our wide variety of activities and adventures. But the board is also committed to the personal touch that’s the key to building all organizations. So don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from a NEARO board member asking you to renew your membership!
For further information from Teresa about 2016, see the December Outreach.
Good Economic News on Two Fronts
The first results directly from collective action, past and current. Years ago, NEARO was instrumental in pushing for an annual cost-of-living adjustment in our pensions. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is based on the CPI-U (Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers), with a guaranteed minimum of 1.5 percent. So while there will be no increase in Social Security benefits for 2016, your monthly pension check went up by 1.5 percent starting January 1, 2016.
The other good news is that lobbying by NEA and other allies on the federal budget last fall resulted in reducing huge proposed hikes in Medicare Part B premiums. However, 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries still face higher premiums and deductibles in 2016. For more information see www.nea.org/home/64269.htm.