Chair Talk

October 2015

The speaker/program for the November 6th Coordinating Council meeting will be Gary Supanich. Mr. Supanich is the attorney representing Tom Okrie in the pension case: Okrie vs State of Michigan. Mr. Supanich will give us an update on the status of their case. This should be an interesting meeting and those SERA members that do not normally attend these meetings might want to attend. If a SERA member/guest would like to attend the November meeting you should talk to your Chapter President for details. Lunch is served at the CC meetings at a cost of $15.00.

Bargaining between the Office of the State Employer and the State Employee Unions is still going on. Rumor has it that they are a ways apart in economic issues.

Retirees should have received the newest Retiree Benefits Bulleting that gives the rates of the various health plans. Those rates went into effect as of October 1st and will show up as deductions in your October 25th pension payment. The annual 3% (capped at $25) will also show up on your October pension payment. There are no changes in our benefits!!!

The SERA-PLUS program (administered by the Hantz Group) has recruited over 90 new SERA members since they started in the middle of May. The recruitment approach taken by Hantz representatives is different than what we had been used to with APSA/FSA. Hantz does not utilize a call center and calls are made by Hantz representatives in the various offices around the State. I think this program will work betteróso that our retention rates may be higher that they had been in the past.

Cheryl Streberger and I met with Jan Winters (State Personnel Director) and Lauri Schmidt (Employee Benefits Director) on Thursday, October 1st. This meeting was the first in a series of meetings where retiree health care will be discussed. Many large employers are looking at retiree health care and the costs involved in providing that coverage to retirees. If you keep up with news reports and June Morse’s column on retirement you would know that retiree health care is costly coverage for any employer. The State is exploring any/all ways to save costs and still provide health care for retirees. So far the only change this year is the rising premiumsóbenefits have not been reduced. We have no idea what may come from the negotiations that are currently in progress. The cost of prescription drugs is a big driver in health care costs — prescription drug costs have risen by about 11% this year. We have a good relationship with the Civil Service Commission representatives and I appreciate the fact that they include SERA in looking at health care costs.

Editor’s note: Bob Kopasz is Chair of the Michigan SERA Council. He may be reached at P.O. Box 692, Mt. Morris, MI 48458; phone 810/240-8380.