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Interagency Memorandum of Understanding: Retiree Insurance Benefits

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SERA Letter to the Michigan House

Auto No-Fault Insurance Bill, HB 5013

October 19, 2017

SERA Chapter Presidents &
SERA Members:

Recently, most State and Municipal retirees received a mailing from Ann Widger, Director of AFSCME retirees in Washington, D.C. The letter invites retirees to join AFSCME Retiree Chapter 255 and attend their founding convention on Saturday, October 28, 2017. At this convention they will elect the Chapters first officers and vote on their constitution. I was an AFSCME member for about 20 years when I worked at the institution in Lapeer, I was an AFSCME Local 567 President for several years and Chief Steward as well. I felt (and still do) that AFSCME represented active employees as well as any other Union if not better.

I have been asked to comment on this membership appeal to retirees:
I have been a SERA (State Employee Retirees’ Association) member for 21 years, I will be beginning my 17th year as Chair of the SERA CC in January. I believe that SERA advocates for state retirees better than any other organization. SERA has been in existence over 40 years and has represented retirees and their issues as best they can. SERA has 22 Chapters in the state with annual dues ranging from $7 to $20. Mary Pollock is SERA’s Lobbyist/Legislative Representative and she does a terrific job with issues in the Legislature. Over the past 20 years we have developed a relationship with Civil Service and the Office of Retirement Services. Because of this relationship we can resolve individual retiree issues that we are made aware of. SERA has a representative on Joint Evaluation Committees on Healthcare contracts. Mary and I are individual members of CSR (Coalition for a Secure Retirement) and that is an organization that is concerned with retirement issues on the State and National level. SERA has partnered with the Hantz Group to offer SERA member various financial, insurance, taxes, wills and trusts at highly discounted rates.

It is your decision to join or not join AFSCME Retiree Chapter 255. AFSCME is a great Union and I believe that municipal retirees need an organization to represent their interests I believe that my state retiree issues are better served by SERA. As a state retiree I will not be joining AFSCME Chapter 255.

Bob Kopasz, Chair

Class Action Against State of Michigan: Taxation of State Pensions (Okrie vs State of Michigan)

See all updates and background.

Latest Update: October 11, 2017
As some of you already know, the U.S. Supreme Court denied my Petition for a Writ of Certiorari on October 2, 2017, thus putting a definitive end to the Okrie class-action lawsuit that I commenced four years ago on July 9, 2013.  There is not much left for me to say that I have not already expressed over these four years, except to say thank you to everyone who believed in the righteousness of this cause.  Above all, I would like to thank Mr. Thomas Okrie for his determined effort and relentlessness in fighting against the great act of the theft — over $1 billion and counting — that the State of Michigan, beginning with Governor Snyder, has carried out in applying 2011 PA 38 to Mr. Okrie and all other similarly situated retired state and public school employees who were born after 1945 and who retired before the effective date of the Act on January 1, 2012.  That is all there is to say, at least publicly for present moment.  What is left is a historical and legal record of a massive State sanctioned theft from state retirees so that thousands of businesses and corporations in Michigan do not have to pay any taxes, unless we can change it.   It is hoped that in the future we will have a political and judicial system that actually addresses the just demands of its citizenry and truly respects the Rule of Law in our constitutional democracy.  Once again, my sincere appreciation for your kind support over the years.


Hantz Financial Consultant Chris Kemp (far right) at the Coldwater/Branch County Senior Health Fair with Goldwater Chapter Board members (left to right) Jackie Russell (chapter secretary), Bing Johnson (chapter president), Patricia Cox (chapter board member), Gordon Gentry (chapter vice president) and Mary Jensen (chapter board member) board member.

SERA is committed to providing exceptional value to its members by delivering quality financial products and services to our members through our SERA Plus program. Consistent with our philosophy, we are pleased to announce that financial planning, investment, insurance (including auto, home and liability), tax planning, estate planning advice, and banking services will soon be offered exclusively through our relationship with Hantz Group, Inc., and its affiliates (together, “Hantz”), headquartered at 26200 American Drive, Southfield, Michigan 48034.

Our decision to offer financial planning, investment, insurance, tax planning, estate planning advice, and banking services through Hantz allows us to provide you with a variety of financial services under one roof. Hantz Group, along with its affiliates, Hantz Tax & Business, LLC, Hantz Agency LLC and Hantz Bank, to name a few, provides a comprehensive approach to your specific financial service and banking needs. Hantz will offer and provide its services through its 21 locations conveniently located near most of our chapters throughout Michigan.

For more information on Hantz, including locations, please visit www.hantzgroup.com or contact our SERA Plus program administrator, Cheryl Streberger at 517-515-9815, or your SERA Chapter Liason.

About Michigan SERA

SERA is an non-profit organization devoted exclusively to issues and concerns of all current and future retirees of the State of Michigan.

SERA works to:

  • keep Michigan state employee pension and insurance benefits secure.
  • assure pension and insurance benefits are improved and keep up with inflation.
  • monitor and take action on important developments affecting state pension and retiree health care benefits.
  • inform its members about proposed federal and state legislation that will affect State of Michigan retirement systems and retiree health care.
  • stay in touch with old friends and make new friends with a common background.
  • monitor the State Employees Retirement Systems Board, the Investment Advisory Committee (which makes recommendations to the State Treasurer on investments in the State Employees Retirement System pension fund), and the 401K and 457 programs provided through Voya.
  • work with the Office of Retirement Services and Civil Service Benefits Division to help retirees and near retirees with their pension and benefits issues.
  • provide SERA PLUS, great discounts and services in many areas of retirement living such as first-year free tax preparation, estate planning, tax planning, home and auto insurance, financial services, mortgage services, estate transfer strategies, final settlement planning, and much more through SERA’s association with Hantz Group, Inc..

SERA works through its members, leaders, and committees to promote the best interests of state employee retirees and future retirees. At least eight times since 1974, SERA was a moving force in pension increases or benefit improvements. In 2011, we opposed the pension tax and helped eliminate it for 70% of retirees; we opposed the remaining tax on public pensions for those born after 1945 in the Michigan Supreme Court. We opposed the recent state employee retirement system changes. That work continues.

SERA has 21 local chapters statewide that are linked through the Coordinating Council of the State Employee Retirees Associations of Michigan (the SERA Coordinating Council). SERA chapters have periodic meetings with guest speakers, opportunities for networking, newsletters, and other activities.

SERA welcomes the new ideas and energy of new members! To join, contact Cheryl Streberger at 517-515-9815 or cstreberger@yahoo.com.