By Patrick Butler
The RBOA (Retirement Board of Authority) consists of three management positions, three members appointed by the CSEA, and three appointed by AFT 6157, who are Jessica Breheny, David Yancey, and yours truly, Patrick Butler. There are also staff members who are paid by the RBOA Trust to serve that committee in its duty to provide medical benefits to eligible retired SJECCD staff who were hired prior to September 10, 1982. The Board normally meets twice per year.
At the April 21 meeting I presented a paper to the RBOA on “The History of Retirement Benefits for SJECCD Employees,” which has been published in this newsletter. After a discussion of that subject, I made a motion that the RBOA hold a special meeting in July to discuss that subject. It passed unanimously.
At the July 18 special Board meeting, there was a discussion of the declining benefits and increasing costs of the Medicare plan that all retired staff covered by the Trust were required to obtain. Jessica also presented several quotes from the letter by attorney John Marshall Collins, which stated that the RBOA had the right to discuss the levels of medical benefits provided to the retired staff covered by the Trust and make recommendations to the SJECCD Board of Trustees. It was decided to use quotes from the letter in order to appear less confrontational. John Collins watched that Zoom meeting and there was no objection by any RBOA member or consultant to the points that we presented. I then made a motion that an action item be placed on the agenda of the next RBOA meeting on October 20 to make a recommendation to the SJECCD Board of Trustees regarding the retirement benefits provided by the Trust. That motion was passed unanimously.
About a week before the October meeting, the Keenan and Associates staff published the minutes of the special meeting that failed to mention that my motion was for an action item and failed to mention that the vote was unanimous with no abstentions. In addition, the item on the agenda for October was listed as “Information”, which would have prevented any action. I was able to get the item changed to ‘Action” just before the 72-hour Brown Act requirement for publication. The minutes were also corrected at the October meeting.
At that October meeting, I explained that in 1982 the Medicare cost was just $11 per month, Social Security was not taxed, and there were no additional charges based on income. I then made a motion that the RBOA recommend to the SJECCD Board of Trustees that, due to the large increases in costs to those beneficiaries of the Trust from the time the agreements were signed in 1982, the RBOA Trust pay the basic cost of Medicare, currently $170.10 per month, to the primary beneficiaries covered by the Trust. The motion passed 5 ayes, 2 noes (manager members), and 2 abstentions (one manager the CSEA Chair of the RBOA).
The District Office managers on the RBOA were sympathetic to our argument that the Trust was overfunded and that the lowest paid retired beneficiaries were hit hard by Medicare increases. But they were swayed by the opinions expressed by the RBOA staff that we could not make recommendations to the SJECCD Board of Trustees. The staff never presented a legal opinion to back up their statements.
The RBOA staff has asked for the full text of the letter quoted by Jessica at the October meeting, and that was provided to all RBOA members on November 14th after the Executive Committee of AFT 6157R agreed to release the letter at its November 10th meeting. Jessica also asked the RBOA chair, Dan Hawkins, to send the motion to the Board of Trustees without editorial comment from the staff who work for the retirement board. We hope that our motion will be on the December 20 Board of Trustees agenda. [Update: The motion has been placed on the agenda for the December 20 meeting of the Board of Trustees.]