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Our Issues

CalRTA’s main purpose is to enhance and protect the benefits of retired educators. Currently our focus is on issues in three broad categories:

Protect Teacher Retirement Financial Security 

CalRTA supports 100% purchasing power protection for all CalSTRS retirees. In 2003, CalRTA joined with CalSTRS to sue to require the state to make a $500 million payment to the fund that provides purchasing power protection. We won that lawsuit.

CalRTA also supports the current defined-benefit pension system for California educators. A guaranteed income in retirement is fundamental to recruiting and retaining the best qualified professionals to become teachers.

Repeal the Social Security Penalties Against California Educators 

The current Social Security system includes little-known penalties that reduce and often eliminate Social Security benefits for retired teachers in California and 14 other states. CalRTA supports solutions to the long-term financing concerns of Social Security, including repeal of these penalties which discourage people from becoming teachers.

Secure Access to Affordable Comprehensive Health Insurance

The CalRTA Board of Directors of the California Retired Teachers Association voted to support universal health insurance reform in an effort to ensure affordable health care for all Californians.


Initiative Workshop and Pension Education Program
In April and early May 2010 CalRTA held eight workshops throughout California to educate members about the pension initiatives that might qualify for the November ballot. In addition, members heard how CalSTRS pensions differ from CalPERS pensions and why those differences are important.

Below are handouts from those workshops (in pdf file format):

- Current Attacks on Pensions

- Response to Pension Attacks

- CalSTRS Full Funding Information

- WEP/GPO Update

- Retirement Security Talking Points

- Pension Education Program Health Care

- Questions & Answers by Ken Hewitt

- Pension Education Program Power Point

- Ken Hewitt - Pension Education Handouts
CalRTA Legislative Priorities

  • Protect teacher retirement financial security

  • Secure access to affordable comprehensive health insurance.

  • Repeal the Social Security Penalties against California educators.

  • Support California’s public education system

State Legislative Platform
Retirement

The California Retired Teachers Association believes that all educators have a right to retire in dignity with a retirement income which is fair, just and retains its purchasing power value. To accomplish these objectives, CalRTA will support legislation that will promote pension equity and protect our defined benefit pension system.

The CalRTA Platform will:
* Protect and enhance retirement purchasing power, the goal being 100 percent as measured against the original retirement allowance.

* Maintain responsibility for funding CalSTRS with costs shared equitably by employee, employer and the State of California.

* Provide more adequate post retirement, disability and beneficiary annual adjustment (currently 2 percent on base)

* Support efforts to provide retired CalSTRS members the opportunity to change retirement options and receive applicable benefits when they become available within the system.

* Ensure adequate funding of CalSTRS and protect retirement funds from being diverted by the State to non-retirement purposes.

* Support elected representation of one or more educators to the CalSTRS Board.

* Support all efforts to provide CalSTRS beneficiaries with benefits equal to or better than those of other public employee retirement systems.

* Provide CalSTRS retired members, who either by contribution or survivorship, qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration, with equal rights to such benefits.

Health Benefits

The California Retired Teachers Association believes affordable, quality health care should be made available. To accomplish this objective, CalRTA will support legislation to provide:

* Health and long-term disability insurance plans that assure quality, emphasize prevention and provide equity in their funding.

* Improvements in Medicare benefits as opposed to privatization plans.

* Affordable, accessible prescription drug benefits.

Public Education

The California Retired Teachers Association offers its support of public education and educators. This goal implies their promotion of understanding the essential role of the public school system and the necessity for community and parental participation in achieving and maintaining educational excellence. CalRTA will support legislation that provides:

* Funding that establishes equity of educational opportunities for all students.

* Protection of public monies from being used in support of private, parochial, sectarian and corporate schools for educational purposes.

* Protection from censorship and freedom of selection and use of text books, library materials and media aids appropriate to the curriculum and maturity level of the students.

* Freedom of teachers and students to explore and discuss divergent points of view.

Adopted by the CalRTA Board of Directors March 25, 2006.
Fight Against Social Security Penalties
Will Social Security Put a Dent in Your Retirement?

Did you know …

* California has almost one million employees who qualify for Social Security benefits or are married to a Social Security earner and are denied their earned retirement benefits.

* Most of these employees are educators, police and sheriff officers, and firefighters.

* California is one of 14 states where public school educators fall under this federal penalty. The law also affects many city and county employees.

* If an educator worked for 20 years in the private sector, earned Social Security credits and then entered teaching in California and taught 20 years, that educator could lose more than half of his/her earned Social Security retirement benefits.

* If a public safety officer worked for 20 years providing public safety, and then went to work in private industry, he/she would receive the same penalties as the educator.

* If a public servant’s spouse was a Social Security earner and preceded the public servant in death, the public servant would lose the earned Social Security spousal death benefit.

For Years CalRTA Has Been a Leader in This Fight

Two Federal bills, House Resolution 235 and Senate Resolution 484, the Social Security Fairness Act, would eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). CalRTA is working toward their passage.

How You Can Help

Write to President Obama and add your voice to the fight to repeal these penalties. Points to include in your message are below, but, if you’re personally affected by these penalties, include your own story as well.

Address:
President Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

E-mail:
www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Use the points above in your message in addition to any personal experiences you've had.

Information Resources

Even if you're affected by these penalties, chances are you're not familiar with them.  Below are additional resources to help answer your questions:

CalRTA brochure explaining the Social Security penalties

Social Security Fairness Website

NEA Video explaining the penalties, called "Penalties for Public Service"

WEP-GPO Defined

14-State Coalition Supports Repeal

A History of Abuse & Confusion

Congressional Testimony
CalRTA Supports Health Care Reform
The Board of Directors of the California Retired Teachers Association voted to support universal health insurance reform first authored by state Senator Sheila Kuehl in SB 840 and currently in SB 810 by Senator Mark Leno.

The Board’s approval followed previous statewide workshops to brief members on the complex legislation. The workshops were attended by a wide range of association members and featured thoughtful discussions of the health care issue and how it would affect those with and without health care insurance.

The current comprehensive legislation would replace California’s current health insurance system with one that would guarantee access to many millions of residents not covered by the current system. Most of any additional costs are expected to be provided through cost-savings by having one entity pay health care costs, rather than the current system in which administrative costs are extensively duplicated.

This video on You Tube shows a rally at the State Capitol in January 2010. Look for the blue and yellow CalRTA signs.
Background Information
Here's additional information on issues of interest to retired educators.

* Are Teachers Pensions Equitable?

* Brief Overview of Social Security Penalties

* In-Depth Explanation of Social Security Penalties [PDF]

* Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Pensions

* Why Teachers Need a Guaranteed Pension