Friday, April 19, 2024

Executive Director’s Report – March 2023

Executive Director’s Report – March 2023

Dear RPEC Leaders:

The month of March is chock-full of activities that need member support. First and foremost, we need your immediate support, as an RPEC leader, to encourage members to take part in the much-anticipated Health Care Authority (HCA) virtual and in-person listening sessions.  Space is limited, so please encourage your members who receive their healthcare benefits through the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) to reserve their spot today. Register here.

We also ask that you encourage your members to complete the written membership survey that all members will receive this month in the mail.  Details below.

Thank you all for your help last month in communicating our state legislative priorities to state legislators. To keep apprised of our collective efforts during legislative session, please attend the weekly Legislative Update calls on Fridays from 2-3 p.m.

The Council Office is now issuing Newsflash emails, on a weekly basis or as needed, to spotlight the latest news on our legislative affairs activities, upcoming meetings and events, and membership benefits.  Newsflash emails are archived on the Council Office website at www.rpecwa.org.

Register Today for the Health Care Authority’s (HCA) Virtual and In-person Listening Sessions – Space is limited!

All RPEC leaders and members who receive their healthcare benefits from the PEBB are asked to register today to take part in virtual and in-person listening sessions hosted by HCA. Register here. Details are also available on the HCA website retiree landing page at https://www.hca.wa.gov/employee-retiree-benefits/retirees. Registration is required.  Space is limited.

After RPEC members register to participate, please ask them to notify the Council Office by emailing info@rpecwa.org. We will need their full name and the date of the listening session they plan to attend.

The listening sessions will be your opportunity to share insights with HCA staff about your healthcare plan and quality of services you receive from HCA.

Each listening session will be limited to 12 participants. The virtual listening sessions will be held twice per week via Zoom beginning on March 14. All listening sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Before each listening session takes place, those who register will receive an email from HCA with the questions the facilitator will pose during the session, along with background materials. Participants will be asked to review the questions and to come prepared to participate.

The virtual listening sessions will be held: March 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, and 30; April 4, 6, 11, 12, 18, 20, 25, and 27; and May 2, 4, 9, 10, 16, 18, 23, 25 and 30.  Register here.

Four in-person listening sessions will also be held in the following communities. Register here.

  • 3/29 Tumwater
  • 4/11 Cheney
  • 4/12 Yakima
  • 5/16 Bothell

In addition to hosting the virtual and in-person listening sessions, HCA will also host monthly virtual public forums. The virtual public forums will be held on March 22, April 26, and May 24 via Zoom from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Unlike the listening sessions, the public forums will function like a public hearing. Participation will be limited to 30 participants who will each have 3 minutes to speak to whatever issue, challenge, or suggestion they want to convey to HCA staff.

If you cannot attend a virtual or in-person listening session, the virtual public forum is another opportunity to share insights about your healthcare plan and the quality of service you receive from HCA. You can also use your 3 minutes to offer suggestions to HCA regarding how they can improve communications and service to retirees. Registration information will be available soon.

Executive Board embarks on strategic planning process grounded in member input

At the February 27th Executive Board meeting, your elected board officially approved the timeline and action steps that will lead to the development of a strategic plan by November.  The process is being led by AFSCME Retiree Council leaders, Ben Hodapp and Carlos Lopez, and AFSCME Education Facilitator Susan Crumpton.

The process to be used by RPEC is based on best practices and AFSCME’s work with other retiree chapters like RPEC.  The first step of the process begins with gathering as much data as possible from our members. To that end, about 400 members took part in late February in a telephone poll.  This month, all members will receive a written survey (see below).  Finally, in April, all members will be asked to join a facilitated listening session, led by AFSCME in concert with our Council Office team, to glean additional member feedback.  The findings will be tabulated and shared with the Executive Board at its first Strategic Plan Work Session to be held on May 22.

All-member written survey – Please complete the survey and mail it back!

This month, all RPEC members will receive a written survey (with a postage paid return envelope) via U.S. mail. The survey is one element of a multi-faceted data collection process that the Executive Board has launched to lay the foundation for the development of a new strategic plan for RPEC. Gleaning your insights and understanding the priorities and needs of our members is the first step in the strategic planning process. Please take the time to complete the survey when it arrives at your home this month and mail it back right away, so that your input can be used to help shape the Board’s priorities.

Register today to attend an All-member Strategic Planning Listening Session, April 14, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

As part of the strategic planning process, AFSCME Retiree Council will be facilitating a virtual listening session for all members-at-large and RPEC leaders on Friday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. This virtual listening session is another way you can provide input to the Executive Board to help inform the development of RPEC’s strategic plan. If you are new to RPEC or a Plan 2/3 member, we especially want to hear from you. Register through this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMvf–trjIrE9cco19514GqMYN5v0gP1Ce4

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the virtual listening session. The Council Office will also send out a reminder confirmation email with the Zoom link a few days ahead of time.

The Executive Board will be meeting virtually on May 22 to consider the findings from the written survey, a member telephone poll, and the April 14 listening session feedback as the first phase of the strategic planning process.  So, please plan now to attend.

Legislative Updates

Thank you all for your support of RPEC’s pro-retiree bills. Through your help, our pension bills are moving forward through the legislative process. SB 5350 passed off the Senate floor with a unanimous bipartisan vote. The bill, which RPEC helped to shape, calls for the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) to study and recommend a legislative path to a recurring cost of living adjustment (COLA) and a one-time COLA of 3% (capped at $110 per month) for PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees. We continue to monitor additional pension-related bills that pay off the unfunded liability in the PERS 1 plan, which could provide the funding needed for a recurring COLA for PERS 1 retirees.

We also thank you for your advocacy in support of greater accountability for the Health Care Authority (HCA). While SSB 5169 and SB 5625 are no longer active bills, Senate leaders have acknowledged our concerns. We hope to continue to work with them to find ways to ensure the agency listens to and responds to the needs of seniors.

The best way to keep apprised of RPEC’s legislative activities is to take part in the weekly Legislative Update Call each Friday from 2-3 p.m. The Zoom link is available on the calendar at www.rpecwa.org.

Blogs & Weekly E-Blast

To meet the information needs of our more tech savvy members, you will be receiving the RPEC Weekly Newsflash e-Blast, containing a round-up of our latest news. We also are posting blogs on the website about a wide range of topics from up-to-the-minute details about priority legislation to insights about how to best access the many benefits you receive through the AFSCME Retirees as an RPEC member.

Chapter elections coming soon

Most chapters will be hosting elections in the months ahead. Many are still recruiting slates of candidates to run for leadership roles. Would you like to serve other retirees by serving as the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, membership coordinator, legislative affairs coordinator, or political action coordinator of your local chapter? No experience is necessary. RPEC’s Council Office will provide all the training and support you will need. The time commitment varies by position. Responsibilities can be shared among chapter officers. If you would like more details, reach out to your chapter president or contact Membership Coordinator Jakob Canup at Jakob.canup@rpecwa.org or by calling (360) 352-8262, ext. 106.

We will also be holding Leadership Training in June for new, current, and prospective chapter leaders. This is a great opportunity to “learn the ropes” in leading your chapters forward, holding stronger and more effective meetings and recruiting and retaining chapter members. More news will be coming in the next few weeks.

Free annual RPEC membership – Recruit 2 new members

For a limited time, RPEC is offering members a chance to earn one year’s free membership. For every two new members you recruit, you will receive a check for $84! To get credit, your name must appear in the “Recruited by” field on the new members’ membership applications. Associate members do not count until they become full dues-paying members. Checks will only be issued to current members in good standing. If you recruit just two new members, your annual RPEC membership will be free for a year!

Do you want to learn more about the threats to traditional Medicare?

One of the benefits of joining RPEC is the opportunity for members to learn from one another about issues that impact retirement security, including preserving traditional Medicare. If you want to gain more knowledge about the healthcare landscape in Washington and at the federal level, attend the bi-monthly virtual Healthcare Workgroup meetings. The workgroup, chaired by Matt Groshong (Chapter 3), discusses a wide range of issues impacting Medicare and healthcare benefits for Washington public sector retirees. The next meeting will be held on March 9 at 3:30 p.m. Details are available on the RPEC website calendar at www.rpecwa.org. Or, reach out to the Council Office at (360) 352-8262, ext. 100, for more information.

This month, all members are also invited to take part in a webinar, hosted by our partner organization, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA), about the threats to Medicare. The webinar will be held on March 20 at 5 p.m.

Register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_G5lSKC5dR6OwCalwvYrX_w. More details are available at psara.org.

Upcoming events

Visit www.rpecwa.org for a full calendar of Council Office and chapter meetings:

Mar. 9:   Public Employees Benefits Board meeting
Healthcare Workgroup
Mar. 10: Legislative Update Call
Mar. 14: HCA Virtual Listening Session
Mar. 16: HCA Virtual Listening Session
Mar. 17: Legislative Committee Meeting
Monthly Leadership Call
Legislative Update Call
Mar. 20: Senior Lobby
PSARA webinar “Don’t Let Naked Profiteering Destroy Our Medicare”
Mar. 22  HCA virtual public forum
Mar. 29  HCA in-person listening session, Tumwater, location TBD

Best,
Laurie

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