JULY 11 B 2:00 PM B HOOVER HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA
This meeting will provide an opportunity for FURA attorney Robert J. Bezemek to meet with the FURA membership regarding the lawsuit.
FUSD DENIES GOVERNMENTAL CLAIM
The Fresno Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously on March 22, 2006 to DENY FURA= S GOVERNMENTAL CLAIM. This claim allowed the District an opportunity to discuss the premium charges with FURA, but the Board and the Superintendent eliminated any other alternative except a lawsuit with their denial. Neither the FUSD Board nor its Superintendent, Michael Hanson, offered any explanation regarding the denial of the 16 page claim for damages in violation of vested retiree health benefits. This was the precursor to our pending lawsuit.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP? – – Lawsuit to be filed this summer
As FURA has stated all along, the next step is filing a lawsuit against the District for violation of federal and state laws. FURA attorney, Robert J. Bezemek of Oakland, is NOW drafting the lawsuit, which will be filed in Fresno County Superior Court his summer.
FUSD SENDS OUT HEALTH BENEFITS BILLS AND PAYMENT SLIPS
As retirees, you have received bills and payment slips with the first health premium due by June 5, 2006. FURA attorney Bob Bezemek stated at our September 2005 meeting at Roosevelt High School, retirees must pay the premiums now or risk being dropped from the health plan. When FURA prevails in court with the lawsuit, the District will reimburse the retirees plus interest for the money paid. Retirees are urged to keep very careful documentation of health premium payments, i.e. record check number, amount paid and date paid, and/or keep cancelled checks or legible copy of checks. If your bank does not provide copies of checks, keep track of the information and/or copy the check before you mail it.
Many retirees have contacted FURA Steering Committee members for clarification of their bills. Some of the billed amounts do not reconcile with information provided to retirees in the District= s April 17, 2006 letter. Many FURA Steering Committee members are asking the same questions.
For example: I thought that the agreement between the bargaining units and the District, and reiterated in the District= s April 17th letter to me, stated that retirees under the age of 65 are to pay what current employees pay, plus a $10 per month health assessment reserve fee, and that those between the ages of 65 and 75 pay only $10 per month for the reserve fee. So why does my current bill from the District contradict that?
FURA= S response:
We do know that the District made good on its promise to bill retirees retroactively to July 2005.
We have no idea what formula was/is used to compute the bills, especially for those who turn 65 during the year, or turn 65 in June 2006.
We have no idea what formula was used to double and triple the bill of cross covered retirees (when both husband and wife are FUSD vested retirees).
One retiree who is under the age of 65 asked why she/he wasn= t receiving the SAME benefits as the active employees (i.e. vision/dental), in-as-much as the retiree is paying the SAME premium. Age discrimination?
If the Joint Health Management Board can double and triple the premiums for one segment of our retiree group, then think what this will lead to in the future for all the other retirees!!! THINK ABOUT IT!! The JHMB membership represents the District administration, FTA, SEIU, and CSEA. And don= t forget, the JHMB has COMPLETE authority and control over all retiree health benefits. The retirees have NEVER been invited to the table or consulted nor have had their limited finances been considered in any of the equations.
www.fresno.k12.ca.us. Send emails, letters and phone calls. Better yet, the Board of Education should HEAR directly from retirees during the twice monthly Board of Education meetings. The Board meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 5 pm in the Board Room at the Education Center on Tulare and M Streets. The portion of the meeting shortly after 5 pm for > unscheduled oral communication= may include retirees. We must be represented at EACH Board meeting to express our indignation. As retirees, we must be up-front and vocal at each meeting. Don= t shrug your shoulders and assume someone else will be there to do this. We= re all in this together. Be active B Take a turn. Call CAROL at 970-0615 and join our speaker= s bureau.
The JHMB has the power to change our health plan benefits, change our rates and charge additional fees if the health fund exceeds its budget by 3%. There are nearly 5,000 retirees and dependents and no one at FUSD will speak with us nor listen to us.
The FUSD Board of Education has allowed the JHMB to make all of the decisions about our health insurance, but the FUSD Board of Education has chosen not to vote on JHMB changes. They are still legally and fiduciarily responsible for all actions taken by JHMB. The FUSD Trustees have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to retirees, and to follow through with promises made to retirees by previous Boards.
ONLY A LAWSUIT WILL END THIS UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF CHARGING HEALTH PREMIUMS TO RETIREES. Our colleagues across the state, including Richmond, Hollister, San Leandro and many others have been successful in court. NOW, it= s our turn.
The powers-that-be in the District are probably hoping that FURA will not file the lawsuit because of the financial costs of such a measure. Your past financial generosity is appreciated, but we= re asking more of you by checking old files, closets, boxes etc. and find items below as evidence in our lawsuit.
PLEASE CHECK YOUR OLD FILES AND CUPBOARDS B Spring cleaning in May
FURA= s attorney is asking for copies of the following:
Copies of the FTA chalk talk from 1975 B 1993.
Copies of bargaining notes from FTA, SEIU or CSEA from 1975 B 1993.
Copies of bargaining proposals from FTA, SEIU or CSEA from 1975 B 1993.
If you have any of these please send them to:
P O BOX 1717
CLOVIS CA 93613
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Contact your bargaining unit when you were employed at FUSD. Ask them why they sold retirees down the road when negotiating with FUSD. FUSD could not have changed retiree benefits if the bargaining units had not agreed.
HELP us with small expenses
Newsletters and receipts for donations are our second largest expense. If your check will suffice as a receipt let us know and we will save $ on paper, ink, envelopes and postage B it all adds up. FURA will save additional money on the paper, ink and postage of each newsletter/mailing by SENDING THEM VIA EMAIL.
FINANCES B Litigation is inevitable and expensive
Your financial contributions are critical to ensure our success in preserving our vested retiree health benefits. The FURA Steering Committee speculates that the District will NOT resolve this issue as stated in the GOVERNMENTAL CLAIM with FURA, so please contribute again. FURA is still exploring non-profit tax exempt status, and when/if approved by IRS, your donation may be tax deductible. Future newsletters will inform you of our progress.
ACTIONS TO ENSURE ADEQUATE FUNDS FOR LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Send another check to FURA= S P O BOX 1717 CLOVIS CA 93613
Find two other retirees and ask them to support FURA and send a check.
Contact your past bargaining unit and ask them why they broke promises to retirees and why they aren= t actively working to protect retiree vested interests .
Write letters, call Board members and attend Board meetings to speak to this injustice. You= ve read the newspaper and heard the TV and radio news: the Governor= s budget has more money for education than ever before. The District= s CFO and Superintendent can not claim lack of funds this time around.
Join your fellow retirees in protecting your vested health benefits. In order to save on mailing costs I will on mail receipts to new members along with their membership card.
Your check reflects your donation.