Retiree Plus Newsletter: November 2019

We’re on a roll!

Texas AFT Retiree Plus proudly serves as the newest and fastest growing organization in Texas representing retired educators. We launched in November 2018, and immediately retirees began seeing the benefits. We welcome all retired school employees: former teachers, counselors, coaches, custodians, school nurses, bus drivers, principals and superintendents are all welcome to join Texas AFT Retiree Plus. If you retired from the Texas public school system—you may join. We understand that your monthly annuity and health care determine your quality of life, and our mission is clear and concise: to protect and promote the TRS defined-benefit pension and TRS health care for each and every retired Texas educator.

 

 

 


State Update

The 13th check arrives, but there’s still plenty of work to do to get a COLA

Houston area union leaders hold a press conference to celebrate the 13th check and call for a permanent COLA. Pictured top row, from left, Candis Houston (Aldine AFT President), Sharon Taylor, State Rep. Jon Rosenthal, Rita Runnels, Cheryl Anderson (Retiree Plus Chair), Gail Dixon, Charles Runnels and Glenda Macal (Fort Bend AFT President); and bottom row, from left Shonda Below (Southeast Houston AFT President) and Nikki Cowart (Cy-Fair AFT President)

Texas AFT Retiree Plus was on the front lines during the 86th legislative session winning a long overdue 13th check for Texas retirees. In September 2019, checks began arriving, providing retirees up to $2,000 in supplementary income. This was the first 13th check in over a decade and the members of Texas AFT Retiree Plus played a major role in making it a reality. (You can see our survey results on how members used their payment here.)
The 13th check was an appreciated accomplishment, but it was not a long term solution. Texas AFT Retiree Plus is organizing now to achieve a true cost of living adjustment. Retirees have been squeezed by rising health care costs and inflation without any increases to their annuity. We are working to see a real annuity increase for TRS members. That’s why the 2020 elections are so important.
A big difference between Texas AFT Retiree Plus and other organizations is that we believe results count. We must take action and hold those in Austin accountable. Our members have worked too hard, have waited too long and now deserve better than what the legislature has delivered.

National Update

Finally, a bill we can back to help fix the WEP Social Security cuts

Texas AFT Retiree Plus is part of the national American Federation of Teachers. Because we also have a national affiliate, we are the best situated teacher retiree organization in Texas to improve and repair the (WEP) Windfall Elimination Provision.  This unfair provision of the law negatively impacts the large majority retirees in our state. However, the law has to be changed in Washington DC, not Austin. This is a federal issue. We are working with the other approximately one-dozen states in the United States effected to build a national coalition to improve the status of our retired educators.

We are proud to announce that Texas AFT Retiree Plus and AFT have endorsed HR 4540. In fact, we are asking our members to take action by contacting their Congressmen. Please help by sending a quick online letter today and feel free to share this link on social media for others to show support. You can read more in HR 4540 here and find out which reps in Texas are supporting it here.


Local Roundup

Alliance-AFT President Rena Honea (left) and Retiree Chair Tony Chenevert honor Patricia Cockerham for her service to Dallas ISD at a retirement class ice cream social sponsored by the local union.

Texas AFT Retiree Plus is proud of our local chapters. We are committed to creating opportunities for retired educators to get involved at the local level for informational meetings, social events and opportunities to work on campaigns supporting retiree issues.

Our local Retiree Plus chapters have been holding meet and greet Ice-cream socials over the last few months in Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio. Our McAllen AFT Retirees also met on October 23, 2019 to discuss ways to increase awareness about the WEP Social-Security offset and get people to lobby for HR 4540.

 

 

Here are a few of the gatherings from around the state.


Top: Texas AFT Retiree Committee meeting in September. Bottom: McAllen Retiree Plus members meeting.

Top (from left): Houston area Retiree Plus members meeting and San Antonio area Retirees Plus ice cream social. Bottom: State Retirees Plus meeting.



 

Our leadership

Retiree Committee Chair Cheryl Anderson is a retired teacher from Houston ISD and member of the Houston Federation of Teachers. Aretta Runnels, a retired teacher and school administrator from Cypress-Fairbanks serves as the organization’s Secretary.

Chair, Cheryl Anderson – canderson@hft2415.org
Secretary, Aretta Runnels – arunnels2004@yahoo.com

Pass this on and get your friends to join!

Joining Texas AFT Retiree Plus is easy and low-cost. We want to keep in mind the financial needs of retirees. The dues are only $2.00 per month, with a voluntary option to donate to our PAC., which is called COPE (The Committee on Political Education). This allows us to lobby for a stronger TRS where all members benefit. Also, those members joining Texas AFT Retiree Plus who identify with a local Texas AFT affiliate, where perhaps you were once a member, will see dues dollars return to your local and region. However, membership is open to all retirees in Texas. It is for former Texas AFT members and any retired school employee who may have belonged to another employee association during their career. Help us spread the work and build this movement for retired educators!

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