By Ron Levesque
The Retiree Chapter, AFT 6157R, was officially chartered on December 1, 2007. On December 1, 2022, AFT 6157 celebrated the 15th Anniversary of our Retiree Chapter, AFT 6157R. Executive Director Phil Hu presented a plaque to our board. It reads: “AFT 6157 thanks you for 15 years of dedication to our retired members.” Congratulations to all of us!
Bill Jacobs was the visionary behind the chapter. He recalled in 2006 in his second year of his retirement, thinking that “retirees seemed seldom considered….” “If we have a collective organization, I thought, maybe there are some things we can do together.” (from “Prez Says” column in Spring 2019) Supported by then AFT President Mark Newton and Executive Director, Barbara Hanfling, Bill recruited Walter Soellner, George Forrester, and Alice Gosak to establish bylaws and to set up an election in October of 2007. All four were elected as the first AFT 6157R Board. In its first years, the Retiree Chapter was largely supported financially by the AFT 6157 union. Over time the Retire Chapter built up its resources from membership dues and became financially independent, while remaining an affiliate nonunion chapter of AFT 6157.
Bill Jacobs served as president until his death in October of 2020. He was fully devoted to the development of the chapter, and his long and effective tenure has ensured that we are here today. Walter Soellner, who has shared Bill’s vision, has served as vice president all fifteen years. Walter has also served as president, treasurer, and secretary at times when he was called upon. And, his lovely home has often hosted our membership meetings. George Forrester served as vice president for a time and as treasurer and membership chair until his death in 2017, overseeing our growth in membership and in financial standing. Alice served as secretary for several years.
Debbie de la Rosa served as secretary for several years, as did Dan McElroy. Paul Fong succeeded Bill as president in fall of 2020, and Ronald Levesque succeeded George in overseeing finances and membership in fall of 2017. Kathy Jasper was elected secretary at our membership meeting in November of 2022.
Steady leadership like this has been so vital to our endurance. But what has sustained us is the support of our member retirees. Your dues each year allow us to conduct our group activities, manage our website, and represent the needs of retirees in our district. This is our sole source of funding. To date, our bank account has close to $40,000 in our accounts, all of it from your dues.
We have been careful stewards of these accounts. This past spring, we approved spending $5000 to conduct a legal review of the authority of the Retiree Board of Authority (RBOA), the District group that oversees the account that funds a retiree supplement to Medicare that was negotiated in 1982 for teachers and staff hired before September 1982. Retiree complaints we have received made it clear that this benefit has not kept up with the higher medical costs of today. The legal review established that the RBOA is allowed to discuss these issues and to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
This is how we put your dues to work to defend all retired teachers. If you have yet to do so, please renew your annual dues payment, $50 for full time faculty and $20 for adjunct faculty right now.
How to pay: Either mail your check made out to ‘AFT 6157R’ to Ron Levesque, 2939 Crater Lane, San Jose, CA 95132. Or, pay online via credit card. Please CLICK HERE to pay.
Help us stay strong for another 15 years!