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President's Message:

John Masterjohn

 

Well here it is spring, I hope you all had a safe winter. As I am writing this article it is mid-January and we just finished a week of subfreezing weather; remember that, now that we are back to the rain and mid 40s.

 

I hope by the time you read this Karen and I will be in Mexico again. We had planned 17 days in Puerto Vallarta for our one trip in 2017. God willing, we’ll be back in time for me to tell you about it in the May/June issue of ARSCE News.

 

Now some sad news. Karen and I sat down and added up all our friends and family who passed away in 2016—glad to get rid of that year—we came up with 11 people. We will miss all of them, but the one I will miss terribly is Lynn Malaspino, who I worked with in my office at the Union for over 28 years. She was not as fortunate as some because she didn’t have the chance to retire from her job. She was going to retire this June after 40-plus years of working at Laborers’ Local 1239.

 

I went to the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) Board meeting on January 12th. The Board appointed Jeff Davis as the new Executive Director of SCERS; replacing Ken Nakatsu. Ken will stay on until around June to make sure that there is a smooth transition—not like at other places I could name. Mr. Davis has been with SCERS for almost 5 years as the Chief Financial and Operating Officer. I met with Jeff and Ken on January 12th, and Jeff assured me he wanted to continue our monthly meetings and would be working with ARSCE as Ken did. Jeff said he would possibly have an article ready for the May/June newspaper.

 

At the meeting, we also discussed SCERS’ Environmental, Social, and Governance policy. The staff had some concerns about how BlackRock, who is one of the largest management firms dealing with ESG, was handling their proxy voting. The Board voted to put BlackRock on the watch list as it relates to their handling of ESG issues; even knowing they are still one of the best firms dealing with ESG.

 

We also discussed the issue of Group Health Medical raising their premiums 44% on the City plan. I mentioned in my last article that Group Health does have some private plans that are almost as good as the current City plan, but could be much cheaper. Again let me remind you regarding one of the City’s policy constraints—if you drop off the City plan, you cannot rejoin. So make sure you discuss any changes with the City benefits office. Ken said that when people heard their premiums were going to increase by over 40%, the office heard from over 25% of the Group Health retirees on the plan asking what they could do about it. Since SCERS does not get into the negotiations on the City medical plans, there isn’t much they can do now, but they have contacted the City benefits office and are hoping to work with them in the future.

 

Now in closing, I need to bring up some politics. We all need to call or write our federal representatives and make sure they hear that we are against making any changes in Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. I have heard that personal letters and phone calls are the most persuasive means of outreach.

 

Well I am hoping the best for all of you in this New Year.

Your President,

John

Contact Mr. Masterjohn at president@arsce.org

This message also appears in the ARSCE News, March - April, 2017, page 1.

Events

Come to the ARSCE Spring Luncheon, March 8 at the West Seattle Golf Club.  Chase away those rainy day blues with food, drink and good friends.  (Registration for this event is now closed.)

 

Seattle City Council Approves Changes to Retirement System

The Seattle City Council has approved a plan to change the retirement benefits offered to new hires beginning in 2017.  To read the Seattle Times article reporting this change click here.

To read the report of these changes by ARSCE member and SCERS Board Member Lou Walter on page one of the January - February, 2016 issue of the ARSCE News, click here.

Council staff had earlier prepared a report on possible directions the City might elect to take in revising the current system.  Click here to view the council page and read the report.

 

Benefits Questions?

 

Do you have a question about your benefits from the City of Seattle?  You can email Renee Freiboth of the Personnel Department directly at benefits@arsce.org.  Renee will select some queries for her article in the ARSCE News; others she will answer directly.

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© 2013 The Association of Retired Seattle City Employees

This page updated March 6, 2017.