Messages to the Membership-Pres. C.J. O'Donnell

February 15, 2013

Dear MSCA members with health care benefits,

On February 12th Governor Patrick filed a bill entitled "An Act Providing Retiree Healthcare Benefits Reform" (http://www.mass.gov/legis/journal/desktop/2013/H59.pdf). While the title might imply an expansion of, and/or improvements in, coverage, it is the opposite. A summary of the proposed changes is on the second page of the governor's cover letter.

Our understanding of the bill at this point is that the provisions in it mirror the recommendations in the report released by the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Commission on January 11th (http://www.mass.gov/anf/opeb-commission.html).

On January 25th the MSCA Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose the OPEB's recommendations as well as any legislation that would adversely affect current members' coverage or premium-split upon retirement. The MSCA Board then released Phase I of an Action Plan on February 3rd (see my January 25th and February 3rd messages at: http://mscaunion.org/messages/).

The Higher Education Leadership Council (HELC), composed of MTA-affiliated union presidents and other higher ed leaders within MTA, met February 15th. At that meeting I moved, and HELC passed, the following four motions:

Motion #1 (passed 11-0) "The Higher Education Leadership Council (HELC) oppose any legislation that would adversely affect current MTA members' health care coverage upon retirement, or the percentage of premiums to be paid upon retirement, in particular the legislation filed by Governor Patrick entitled ‘An Act Providing Retiree Healthcare Benefits Reform.’"

Motion #2 (passed 11-0) "The Chair of HELC shall convey HELC's position opposing any legislation that would adversely affect current MTA members' health care coverage upon retirement, or the percentage of premiums to be paid upon retirement, in particular the legislation filed by Governor Patrick entitled ‘An Act Providing Retiree Healthcare Benefits Reform,’ to MTA President Paul Toner, MTA Vice President Tim Sullivan, MTA Executive Director/Treasurer Ann Clarke, MTA Higher Ed Director Joey Hansen and members of the MTA Board of Directors as soon as practicable."

Motion #3 (passed 11-0) "The Chair of HELC shall convey HELC's position opposing any legislation that would adversely affect current MTA members' health care coverage upon retirement, or the percentage of premiums to be paid upon retirement, in particular the legislation filed by Governor Patrick entitled ‘An Act Providing Retiree Healthcare Benefits Reform,’ to MTA affiliate presidents as soon as practicable."

Motion #4 (passed 9-5) "The Chair of HELC shall convey HELC's position opposing the legislation filed by Governor Patrick entitled ‘An Act Providing Retiree Healthcare Benefits Reform,’ to members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Massachusetts Senate as soon as practicable."

Not all members of HELC were present and there were members who abstained on the first three votes, however, the votes reflect the sentiments of a significant majority of the MTA-affiliated higher ed union leaders.

The MSCA Board will be discussing the next step in our opposition to this bill at our March 1st meeting and asking for your help to defeat the bill.

In solidarity,
C. J. O'Donnell
MSCA President


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