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Why Join REA?

Threats to Retirees Continue

We Need Your Help.

For many years City retirees enjoyed a quiet and peaceful retirement, with key matters of pension payments and healthcare coverage basically running on autopilot.

No more.

As the song goes, "The Times They Are 'A-Changin". In 2005, the City Attorney mounted serious and unrelenting attacks on the independence of SDCERS and the legality of vested pension benefits. These cases were not fully resolved in the courts until 2011. The most recent flurry of legal opinions from the City Attorney and news of criminal re-filings leave little opportunity to forget that we are and probably will be for the next decade embroiled in pension- related litigation in one form or another.

More recently, new assaults are occurring now that involves not just the City of San Diego but also other public agencies in the state and throughout the nation.

They include:

  • Retiree Healthcare. This is perhaps the most immediate and credible challenge. Already the City of Vallejo, California, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings, is challenging the healthcare benefits of its retirees with a proposal to cap coverage at a flat $300 per month. The Sonoma Retirees Association has filed suit claiming that the County has reneged on earlier promises to cover retiree healthcare costs by requiring retirees to pay higher premium costs. We believe we have a good legal case to preserve this vitally important benefit. Nonetheless, a similar attempt here to cutback or eliminate our healthcare coverage is likely.
  • Bankruptcy. Although the City of San Diego is currently far away from fiscal insolvency, there is continuing talk in all media suggesting that bankruptcy might be a possible way to curtail or reduce our pension benefits. Other cities, not just in California but also across the nation, are beginning to evaluate bankruptcy as a tool to reduce or eliminate their financial obligations. We must remain vigilant against those in office or those seeking higher office who would opportunistically use even the threat of bankruptcy to address the current pension-funding shortfall.
  • Trimming of Benefits. Here and elsewhere, authorities are already trimming the pension and healthcare benefits of their actively employed public employees. While we firmly believe that the pension benefits for retirees are legally guaranteed, we must remain vigilant to make sure that any future attempt to reduce or eliminate retiree benefits be strongly opposed through competent legal representation, effective political participation, and the education of elected officials.

    These are not short-term problems. Given the trying economic times and the current public attitude towards governmental institutions in general, there is little doubt that these attacks are going to be with us for the foreseeable future and that we must remain very much on guard.

    We should remain mindful of the fact we while have prevailed in the legal challenges encountered thus far, the lack of sound legal standing did not stop the challenges from being initiated in the first place, nor our need to mount a defence against them.

How Is the REA Responding To These Attacks?

In response to these challenges, the REA is taking the following steps:

  • We monitor efforts underway in other cities and counties where retiree pension and healthcare benefits are under active attack so that we can better understand their circumstances and the actions they are taking to protect these benefits.
  • We monitor what is happening with respect to bankruptcy discussions and actions in other cities and counties in California and elsewhere.
  • We are exploring the feasibility of creating statewide alliances with other public retiree associations so that information, communication resources and strategies can be shared and combined to provide a united front. The more members we have, both here locally and statewide, the more effective we can be in advocating our positions and defending the benefits we all have earned.
  • We continue to keep our members informed in a timely fashion of all new developments regarding healthcare and pension issues, and any other pertinent retirement issues.
  • We are striving to increase our membership and are actively exploring the most effective means to achieve this. Our goal is not to merely increase membership just for the sake of larger numbers, but to increase our financial resources and to make our numerical presence one of significance in public meetings - both of which serve the interests and well being of our members.

What Other Value Does The REA Provide?

As retirees ourselves, our Board members have a wealth of knowledge on a wide variety of pension and retirement issues. Our monthly meetings provide a ready forum where members can ask questions and make recommendations based on their own valuable skills and insights gained from years of experience with the City.

The REA has consistently been, and continues to be, involved in the following important communication, advocacy, and social activities:

  • Gathers and shares information on current and emerging retirement and healthcare benefit issues.
  • Attend SDCERS Board meetings and report to our membership on the actions taken by the SDCERS’ Trustees.
  • Develops recommendations to the REA Board of Directors on matters of vital interest.
  • Meets with City Council and Retirement System officials on important retirement issues.
  • Testifies at City Council and Retirement System Board meetings on key issues.
  • Maintains an active liaison with San Diego City Employees Retirement System's (SCDERS) board and staff members to stay informed of developing issues and new provisions, and to advocate for retiree interests.
  • Maintains a website (www.csdrea.org) where members can learn how to join our association, learn about recent retirement policy developments, access a calendar of upcoming events, and read news articles, reports and documents that are of interest to retirees.
  • Publishes a monthly newsletter that keeps members up to date regarding new developments concerning important retirement matters.
  • Holds monthly luncheon programs that provide timely and important updates on developing retirement issues, along with knowledgeable and entertaining guest speakers who address a wide variety of interesting topics. These events are of course a wonderful way to catch up with old friends.
  • Hosts two "social only" programs annually, including a December holiday party and a summer barbeque.
  • Oversees other activities including the “Retiree Issues Task Force”, the "Helping Hands" program (which assists surviving family members), and various charitable-giving opportunities.

Become A Member - Joining is Easy and Affordable

Just visit our How to Join REA page or call (888) 730-4935. Membership dues are $2 per month through automatic payroll deduction, or $30 per year if paying by cash, check, or money order.

Well before these threats to our pensions and healthcare coverage were launched, REA has consistently provided important services to retirees. Now that we are facing the possibility of losing or suffering significant reductions in these vital benefits, we need your ideas, your involvement, your action and your membership.

"Gentlemen we must all hang together or we shall most assuredly all hang separately," Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, August 2, 1776.

Please join the REA; you and we will be glad you did.