Update on post-employment benefits
As many people are aware, the future of Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) has been in the news over the past several years and remains the subject of intense scrutiny. This discussion refers mainly to public employee retiree health care benefits.
Last year, the Special Commission to Study Retiree Healthcare and Other Non-Pension Benefits was created to develop recommendations on how the Commonwealth could address the enormous unfunded liabilities facing the state and municipal governments to cover retiree health insurance. After several months of study and deliberation, the Commission, co-chaired by former MTA President Anne Wass, produced a series of recommendations on January 11, 2013.
For a full description of the process and events that led up to the report being issued, click here.
On January 25, the MTA Board of Directors voted to support the recommendations of the Special Commission to Study Retiree Healthcare and Other Non-Pension Benefits. The motion adopted was as follows:
That the MTA Board of Directors affirms support of the recommendations of the Special Commission to Study Retiree Healthcare and Other Non-Pension Benefits as set forth in the Special Commission’s January 11, 2013 report. MTA will support legislation that mirrors or improves the recommendations contained in the report. If legislation is proposed which departs significantly from the recommendations contained in the report, and to the detriment of MTA members, the leadership will consult again with the Board of Directors.
Governor Deval Patrick subsequently filed legislation that mirrors the recommendations in the Commission report.
Since the Board vote, MTA leaders and staff have been meeting with members regarding concerns that the legislation may negatively impact some categories of our membership in a disproportionate manner. Based on these concerns, we have been in discussions with representatives of the administration and legislative leaders to seek possible solutions to these problems in the legislation.
At the MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates on May 11, the delegates approved New Business Item #2, which reads as follows:
Be it resolved that MTA shall work to modify legislation that would adversely affect MTA members’ health care coverage upon retirement, including changes to the minimum eligibility age, years of service required, and/or percentage of premiums to be paid. The MTA shall fight to improve the legislation filed by Governor Patrick entitled “An Act Providing Retiree Healthcare Benefits Reform.”
The MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates hereby instructs the leadership to:
• Publish this resolution on the website and in MTA Today accompanied by a clear explanation of the legislation’s specific provisions.
• Notify every local president of this resolution and encourage them to organize their members to contact legislators to improve the current legislation.
• Communicate the MTA’s intent to improve the current proposed legislation via a letter to every state legislator.
• Direct the MTA Government Relations Division to work to improve the current proposed legislation.
In accordance with that vote and our earlier efforts to address the concerns raised by members, we have sent this letter, now posted on the MTA website, to members of both the House and Senate, with copies to the Board, presidents and staff. We encourage local leaders to organize their members to contact legislators to improve the current legislation as outlined in the letter. There will also be an article on this issue in the fall issue of MTA Today and updates and additional notifications to local leaders when and if the proposed legislation is under consideration at the State House.
To see a chart explaining the legislation’s specific provisions, click here.