Fresno Unified Retirees’ Association (FURA)
P. O. Box 1717
Clovis, CA 93613-1717
We are writing to appeal for your financial assistance as we fight to protect retiree health benefits in Fresno. We are engaged in historic, precedent-setting litigation over the right of retirees to receive district-paid retiree health benefits promised in collective bargaining and District Board policies.
Over thirty years ago, five unions negotiated retiree health benefits for the employees of the Fresno Unified School District. As in many districts, the promise was clear: stay and work for us and you will earn district-paid health benefits for your retirement, with no premium payments after the age 57 and ½. Over 3,500 former teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians, custodians, food service workers, painters, bus drivers, secretaries, and even administrators earned these benefits. In 2005 the District broke its promise, and began charging its 3,500 retirees hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in premiums.
The District is one of the largest and wealthiest in the State, with an annual budget of nearly one billion dollars. Its strategy has been dictated by several consultants, who are looking for a venue where they can try to establish that retiree health benefits are not subject to “vesting.” The District was certain the retirees would just quietly accept the change. That hasn’t happened.
The Fresno Unified Retirees’ Association (FURA) was formed in 2004, by two thousand retirees representing all of the bargaining units. FURA has been funded by voluntary contributions from its founding members and continues today with voluntary financial contributions from those retirees on a fixed income. Now, as the District ramps up the pressure on the eve of the December hearing on our case, FURA needs your help. Please consider donating to FURA, so we can continue this fight to its conclusion.
The original promise of lifetime benefits was negotiated by a bargaining team consisting of both CFT and CTA members. Former CFT Local 869 President Bob Lewellen was a member of that team, and is one of our witnesses. Fresno Unified once told its retirees that it valued us for “life.” Well, it hasn’t turned out that way.
FURA hired the law firm of Bob Bezemek, which is representing us. He and his staff have invested thousands of hours of legal time on our case, as the District’s legal team has barraged us with meritless motions which have delayed the case, and cost FURA thousands of dollars in expenses. Litigation is not for the faint of heart. It is drawn out and expensive. We are asking our Union partners for financial consideration and to contribute to our effort. As a fully recognized state and federal non-profit organization, your donation is tax deductible as provided by law.
Fresno Unified retirees anxiously watch our colleagues in nearby Clovis who are paying an average of $599 per month plus the cost of Medicare. These costs frequently exceed the monthly pension of many retirees. FURA’s fight is not only for Fresno Unified retirees but for our retiree colleagues across the state. One FURA member stated that she would not be able to afford monthly health premiums and assessments along with the co-payments of her 12 medications plus the cost of housing, food and utilities. We are fighting for all workers with the vested retiree health benefit. Please visit our website at for detailed information about FURA, the District’s promise of lifetime health benefits and for the most recent updates on our case.
A deal is a deal…a promise is a promise…a contract is a contract…the law is the law. Fresno Unified retirees are attempting to hold the Fresno Unified School District to the law. We need your help. We need your solidarity. We need your financial contribution to continue our struggle. Please invest in protecting our future.
Tony Zuniga, former SEIU Unit Representative
Charles Clark, former Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties
Building Trades Council Unit Representative
Bob Lewellen, former CFT and FTA President
Patricia Mitchell, former CSEA Chapter President
Bryan Long, former FTA President
Ron Hall, former FTA President
Carole Sarkisian-Bonard, former FTA member and administrator
Glen Rathwick, former Superintendent of Schools
FURA DONATION FORM
I hereby make the following contribution to FURA’s efforts to recover retiree health benefits for thousands of retirees of the Fresno Unified School District.
Name of contributor: ___________________________________________________
Amount of donation:
$ 100 ~
$ 250 ~
$ 500 ~
$ other ~ $____________
Your contribution is tax-deductible for the State of California returns. Federal recognition for non-profit approval is pending review.
Please send this form with your check made payable to:
Fresno Unified Retirees’ Association or “FURA”
P. O. Box 1717
Clovis, CA 93613-1717
Thanks you so much for your contribution!