Retiree Plus Newsletter, November 2020

Texas AFT Retiree Plus keeps “Eyes on the Prize”: a cost of living increase (COLA) for all, and election results that improve lives

2020 has presented many challenges for retired educators. The current pandemic forced both a health and financial hardship for many. Despite the difficulties during this time, Texas AFT Retiree Plus has remained vigilant in our policy focus to finally obtain a true, across the board cost-of-living increase for retired public educators in Texas.

At the local and state level, Texas AFT Retiree Plus has organized for a strong 2020 voter turn-out in Texas. The results are showing, as we are witnessing state-wide, record-breaking voter participation in this election.  Retirees have stepped up to volunteer in their local areas, helping drive get-out-the-vote efforts and elect pro-public education candidates. “It is imperative that we identify bi-partisan candidates in Texas who are committed to protecting the TRS defined-benefit pension plan, who will work to lower the costs of TRS Care and yes—finally deliver a permanent, cost of living annuity increase,” said Rita Runnels, Texas AFT Retiree Plus, Chair.

In this election, the state of Texas is seeing more attention and dollars than in the last 25 years. For decades, the Republican Party has maintained an absolute monopoly on state government by controlling all levers of power—executive, legislative and judicial majorities and super-majorities. Many are looking at Texas and asking if the time is now to elect a more balanced government. If you did not vote early—tomorrow is the big day. Stay safe and VOTE.

(See the Texas AFT endorsed candidate list here)

TRS-Care Info Sessions are underway!

Have you signed up for a virtual info session yet?

The first round of TRS-Care info sessions was a success and there are more to come! Have you signed up for a TRS-Care Standard or TRS-Care Medicare Advantage session yet?

While your rates and benefits are staying the same, our new vendors have exciting new programs, value-add benefits, and a high level of customer service we can’t wait to tell you about.

These virtual info sessions are a great opportunity to learn about the new TRS-Care plan year and ask questions directly to TRS staff and the medical and pharmacy plan administrators for 2021.

Here are some important questions we’ve been able to answer so far:

  • What happens to my deductible if I’m in TRS-Care Standard and turning 65 in 2021?
  • Do I have to pay separately for the TRS-Care Medicare Rx plan with SilverScript?
  • Which providers are in-network in my plan?
  • Do I need Medicare Part B, and what does it mean for my plan?

Be sure to attend a session so you have the chance to ask questions that are most important to you! Find the full schedule and registration links here.

Corpus Christi chapter keeps busy with election, reopening work

The Corpus Christi based Texas AFT Retiree Plus chapter had a busy summer and fall semester. They partnered with the Communication Workers of America to host a Citizenship Clinic. The following pictures are retirees helping with Citizenship Clinic at the CWA Hall, sponsored by AFLCIO. These same retirees sent over 1,200 Educator to Voter cards, and helped phone bank for the union-backed school board endorsements of Marty Bell and Alice Upshaw Hawkins in Corpus Christi ISD. They also helped distribute signs to the polls and participated in the Caravan Parade with CCISD employees promoting a safe reopening of campuses.

San Antonio chapter hard at work, and having fun in a stressful year

San Antonio retirees have quickly grown their membership in Texas AFT Retiree Plus. This past year has been an active, eventful, and successful year for the group.

Nancy Demel, Cathy Hazard, and Charlie Peterson traveled to Houston to attend the Texas AFT Retiree Plus organizing workshop presented by Cheryl Anderson, former retiree chair, and Mahgen Rozarie, AFT retiree organizer. After surviving Houston’s traffic, the group returned with many great ideas on how to grow the chapter. These ideas included monthly scheduled meetings, ZOOM meetings, and Happy Hours.

As delegates to the San Antonio Central Labor Council, Patsy Esterline, Cathy Hazard, and Charlie Peterson were active in CLC actions. During the endorsement process, they questioned each candidate about our retiree issues

1. A permanent pension COLA
2. Better healthcare
3. Lower-cost healthcare.

They also added support for our brothers and sisters in the state employee unions in their struggles to accomplish the same goals. After the election, we will be ready to work with the Legislators on our road to accomplish our goals.

The group’s Princess of Fun, Lydia Carrillo-Valdez, has worked tirelessly in the creation of our Happy Hours. Through games and other fun stuff, the Happy Hours are a sanctuary where members, future members and guests could Turn Off the News for a while and enjoy games, tell stories and jokes in a safe community. In this time of stress and fear, these are much-needed events.

The Houston Federation of Teachers remain the largest local chapter of Texas AFT Retiree Plus.

HFT Retirees worked in September and October 2020 to educate voters and get out the vote. They informed retirees on how to vote early and vote safely. They also crafted a pledge to support pro-public education candidates. In October, they facilitated the participation in AFT’s virtual zoom meeting on the reality and danger of voter suppression and how to combat it.

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!

Our leadership

Retiree Committee Chair Aretta Carden Runnels, a retired teacher and school administrator from Cypress-Fairbanks serves as the organization’s Secretary.


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