With the successful litigation to preserve and protect our vested retiree health benefits, FURA’s steering committee met to review and discuss the organization’s next steps:
1. FURA WILL CONTINUE AS A NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION
Webster defines “chaos” as “any confused collection or state of things, complete disorder.” In contrast, “organized” means “to become systematized or constituted into a whole of independent parts.” To be organized is to be systematized. To be without system or organization is to be in a state of chaos and therefore be vulnerable. So it is with any social institution, business enterprise, or activity such as the FUSD retirees who depend upon the combined efforts of individuals to achieve its stated purpose. The purpose of OUR organization is to preserve and protect our vested retiree health benefits. This benefit was upheld in Court and FURA is grateful for the Court’s decision. At the FURA Steering Committee fall meeting, officers believed fervently that FURA MUST continue as an organization. We must preserve our organization in the unlikely event there is another assault on our earned retiree health benefits.
2. WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON?
There is much discussion on talk radio and news programs re: the current cost to the State of California re: STRS and CalPERS pensions and obligations to those retired, and to prospective retirees. FURA must stay organized to keep a watchful eye on our earned retirement benefits and keep contact with other statewide retiree organizations.
3. WHAT HAS FURA ACCOMPLISHED SINCE THE FALL OF 2004?
! FURA was successful in its lawsuit to preserve and protect earned, retiree health benefits as PROMISED by FUSD since the inception of the program in the 1970’s.
! FURA was successful in the implementation of Ed Code 7000 dental benefits.
! FURA was successful in organizing thousands of FUSD retirees from each of the five bargaining units (CSEA 125, CSEA food sevices; SEIU, Building Trades, FTA as well as confidential, supervisory and management.)
! FURA was recognized by the State of California as a Non profit organization
! FURA publishes newsletters to inform its membership
! FURA maintains a web site to inform its membership and the public
! FURA holds at least one General Membership meeting per year
4. WHAT NEEDS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED IN THE FUTURE?
! More than 300 retirees emailed and telephoned FURA to indicate an interest in purchasing vision insurance. Our legal team headed by Bob Bezemek is working on the matter and will contact the FUSD Board of Education and Superintendent. It is important to remember that FUSD, pursuant to VSP Insurance Office, will NOT lose a penny if all retirees were allowed to purchase the insurance.
! FURA members are encouraged to contact FUSD Board members (559.457.3727) and the FUSD Superintendent (559.457.3882). Who decided that retirees who retired prior to 2009 would not be “eligible” to purchase vision insurance? This decision WAS NOT made by the FUSD board members. If not the FUSD governing board, then who? Call and make your voice heard.
! Continue to monitor the earned premium free lifetime health benefit to ensure that there isn’t a repeat of the action taken by the FUSD Board of Education in August, 2005, to assess premiums and fees.
! Share information with all retirees
! Assist retirees with retirement problems, questions, road blocks
5. ANNUAL DUES
The Steering Committee discussed the feasibility of assessing a nominal annual fee for FURA members. FURA cannot continue printing and mailing newsletters, maintaining a web site, pay state fees for a non profit organization, etc., without a stream of revenue. Remember that FURA officers are NOT reimbursed for out of pocket expenses or travel/meeting expenses. We are asking our membership to take a quick survey and let us know your thoughts re: a dues structure (please detach the following and mail it to FURA, PO Box 1717, Clovis, CA 93613-1717 or email Carole Sarkisian-Bonard at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts on this matter.
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G Yes, I recommend annual dues
G No, I do not recommend annual dues to sustain our organization
Suggested amount of annual dues:
G Option 1: $12 per year
G Option 2: $15 per year
G Option 3: $20 per year
G Other? _____ (Please keep in mind that the greater number of retirees joining the organization will garner more income for the organization.)
As we go to press with this FURA newsletter, there hasn’t been any information from FUSD to our attorney, Bob Bezemek, as to the timeline FUSD retirees would be receiving their reimbursement checks for the illegally charged health premiums. In the meantime, each retiree who paid premiums is accruing interest from the District on the amount owed. It is hoped that some information will be forthcoming from FUSD by the time of our annual meeting on March 3, 2011.
COURT GRANTS ATTORNEY FEES
FURA is pleased to report that the Court granted FURA’s motion for attorney fees. A hearing was held in Fresno County Superior Court on November 5, 2010, with the Honorable Donald R. Franson, Jr., presiding. Judge Franson issued his tentative ruling on December 17, 2010, granting FURA’s motion and directing the District to pay nearly $2.6 million in attorney fees. The FUSD Board of Education on January 12, 2011, announced in public session, following a closed session meeting, that FUSD WILL NOT appeal the Judge’s ruling re: attorney fees. The FUSD Board of Education vote was 6 in favor NOT to appeal; 0 negative votes and one abstention (Larry Moore). FURA is appreciative of Trustee Carol Mills’ actions on FURA’s behalf regarding this matter.
GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING
RETIRED TEACHER HALL (3930 E Saginaw Way, Fresno)
MARCH 3, 2011
11:00 a.m. (Doors will open at 10:30 a.m.)
! FUSD Health Plan A Representative from FUSD Benefits Department
! Vision plan update Lynn Freeman & Carole Sarkisian-Bonard
! Legal Update Carole Sarkisian-Bonard
! FURA 2 gap group Cathy Franzell
! Reimbursement checks Carole Sarkisian-Bonard
! Treasurer’s report Barbara Thomas
Protect your Health Benefits!