HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION
This association was established because of the foresight of retirees seeing a need to reinforce support of our benefits. Meetings were held and the original slate of officers were elected as follows:
Rubin Campbell (later became President)
ADVISORS - Harold Gillespie - Bill Crawford and representative from the City of Memphis Retiree Group
A mission statement was developed as follows:
"Our goal is to communicate with all retirees and their families for the long term betterment of all. We will do this by communicating the truth, as best we know it, regarding any pension, insurance and/or other items pertinent to our members. Members are defined as any retired person of MLGW or their surviving spouse. We will interact on information to promote the well being of our members for our future relationship with the MLGW administration.
Our intent is to maintain the MLGW pension as a separate entity - not to be combined with any other pension system. Our main focus is to protect and advance the rights and interests of the past, present, and future retired employees of MLGW and their families. We will accomplish this through legal and morally permissible means. We will undertake all steps and activities necessary to accommodate these purposes and to do so in a way to promote the dignity of all people involved."
The previous retiree organization worked with the new group to merge into one and on September 22, 2004 the mission statement was approved during a general retiree meeting. By Laws were then developed and submitted to the State of Tn for approval as a Non-Profit Organization. Federal 509 c4 status.
During this time was when Mayor Herenton removed Herman Morris from the presidency of MLGW and subsequently appointed Joseph Lee to the position. Shortly after that appointment the sitting General Counsel, Max Williams, left MLGW and Odell Horton, Jr. was added to MLGW in this capacity. This was only the start of good employees either being pressured or asked to retire. It was apparent that the Mayor had an agenda at MLGW and it was not good.
The first issue that the newly formed REA-MLGW was confronted with was the City’s proposal that MLGW’s Legal and Human Resource Departments be combined with the City. This would include Pension and Insurance Departments.
IBEW and REA Executive Board and many members of the newly formed REA-MLGW went before the City Council in opposition to this merger. We were successful in stopping this merger from happening. Thus keeping the integrity of these two important departments from being jeopardized.
The second issue that was tackled had to do with increase of pension benefits for those who had retired prior to 1995. Dick Gardiner had presented to the MLGW Pension Board a proposal to increase the pensions for these retirees.
After many months of presenting information and attending many (!) MLGW Board of Commissioner meetings, Dick along with the REA-MLGW Board and many members were able to finally have the following approved:
MLGW BOARD MEETINGS HELD APRIL 20TH - OUTCOME
1. PASSED RESOLUTION FOR THE ONE-TIME INCREASES TO THOSE RETIRED PRIOR TO 1995.
2. PASSED RESOLUTION FOR INCREASING THE MINIMUM PENSION FROM $40 PER MONTH TO $44 PER MONTH PER YEAR OF SERVICE.
3. DID NOT PASS RESOLUTION FOR Change to apply 30% of COLA on July 1 after retirement on those 43 years or older instead of age 56.
The third issue was one very close to all retirees - Medical Insurance guarantee.
April 11, 2006 REA-MLGW supported IBEW with their presentation to the City Council regarding medical insurance for retirees. Again many months of discussions with legal counsel (both City and MLGW), Board of Commissioners, Pension Board, the fight was won. We now have in the Medical Benefit policy that retirees will have medical insurance at the same percentage of premium as active employees as long as medical insurance is offered to active employees.
The fourth issue was regarding the new proposed Medical Insurance Administrator.
We met many times with Army Ward, Vice-President of Human Resources, and went before the Board of Commissioners expressing our dismay and reluctance to accepting the proposal from United Healthcare. We pointed out many downfalls of United Healthcare but to no avail. As you know United Healthcare is the administrator and problems do exist as were stated before even entering into a contract with them.
We know that many have experienced undue problems with United Healthcare and we have been vigilant in discussing with Army Ward, Charles Perry and Henry Jackson. Most of the problems occur when Medicare is involved. It is now our understanding that United Healthcare is now having programming done so that they can better ascertain when a retiree is on Medicare and the function that they serve within that perimeter. Hopefully this will help reduce many problems.
The fifth issue has to do with the MLGW TRUST FOR RETIREE MEDICAL AND LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS that were established January 1, 1995.
New management at MLGW (Joseph Lee and Odell Horton, Jr.) wanted to establish a NEW Trust Fund - unaware of the one already in place. Marvin Winston called their hand on this and brought the current trust fund information to the Board of Commissioners.
Because of this, the new fund was stopped and the old fund was amended. Dick Gardiner, Marvin Winston and Frierson Graves were very instrumental in assisting John McCullough, Frank Carney and Jerry Collins (who took over for Joseph Lee) in the amendment process. The amended trust fund was approved by the Board of Commissioners and the City of Memphis City Council.
Marvin and Dick keep a vigilante eye on this fund so that the contract agreement will be kept.
Effective January 1, 2009 the minimum pension benefit will be increased. The new formula is $48.00 per month per year of service. In January 1, 2010 it will increase to $50.00 per month per year of service. Dick Gardiner proposed this increase to the MLGW Pension Board in 2008 and after a report from the Actuary and discussions at the Pension Board meetings, Dick was successful in getting the Pension Board to adopt this new minimum pension benefit calculation. It was approved by the MLGW Board of Commissioners and the Memphis City Council.
The REA-MLGW Executive Board continues efforts to monitor and watch out for our benefits. We are here for you. In the future we hope to do other things that you will reap good things.