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Retired teachers group holds meeting in Alexandria against Jindal’s plan to privatize benefits

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Written by : Warren Hayes
whayes@thetowntalk.com

Retirement benefits and affordable health care were on the minds of retired teachers meeting Wednesday in Alexandria.

Benjamin Sandifer, legislative chairman for the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association, said he’s concerned about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed privatization of group benefits.

“We did not get a cost-of-living raise,” Sandifer said at the association’s Spring Meeting in the Alexander Fulton Hotel in Alexandria.

“We are opposed to the changing of our retirement system from a defined benefit to a defined contribution. Those are the major things we are working on. I will definitely be in Baton Rouge again fighting to protect benefits,” Sandifer said.

James Taylor, the association’s president, said the group has been around since 1956 and is an advocate for adequate retirement salaries and appropriate medical coverage.

Taylor said he testified Tuesday at a legislative hearing against privatizing the Office of Group Benefits insurance program for retirees.

“The state of Louisiana, in 1979, had a pretty bad health insurance program for employees. They then went with something called the Office of Group Benefits,” Taylor said.

“The Office of Group Benefits is a self-insured, self-managed plan which provides excellent medical care for our members. The governor or his staff has the idea that we need to privatize and sell it off. About 17,000 of our members are covered under this.

“We don’t want them to pay more for less. The instant it’s privatized, cost will go up.”

There are 22,000 members in the statewide association. James Stewart, the association’s District VII president, said the Rapides Retired Teachers Association began in Alexandria

55 years ago and has 140 members. The Cenla Retired Teachers Association has 85 members, he said.

“This convention gives us the opportunity to interact with each other and hear concerns. The two most important items right now are health benefits and retirement for teachers,” Stewart said.

“We will hear from the director of the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (Maureen Westgard) on how our system is progressing. The Legislature just went into legislative session (Monday), and we will be getting an update on how things are going in Baton Rouge.”

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Written by demon53

April 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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