Please sign petition to support U of M Teamsters in their struggle to get a fair contract!
What prompted the need for this referendum?
When the Legislature created the PERA Local Government Correctional Service Employees Retirement Plan on July 1, 1999, the first employees enrolled in the Correctional Plan were transferred from the Coordinated Plan and had Social Security coverage as members of that plan. PERA, as the State’s Social Security Administrator since 2002, recently learned that individuals enrolled in the Correctional Plan who had not been members of the PERA Coordinated Plan as correctional personnel were not automatically eligible to be covered by Social Security. PERA was told that to sanction Social Security coverage for individuals enrolled as new participants in the Correctional Plan, a referendum must take place and the results of that process must then be documented in the State’s Section 218 Agreement – the official documentation between the State and Social Security defining which public employees in Minnesota are covered by Social Security.
What Must Be Done Now?
A referendum – vote – by all eligible members of the PERA Correctional Plan must be conducted in order to legally sanction the Social Security coverage that has been given to current correctional facility employees who were not transferred from the PERA Coordinated to the Correctional Plan and to future members of this retirement system. The referendum will be conducted in January 2015, concluding on January 30.
Who gets to vote?
PERA is working with county human resource personnel to verify who is eligible to vote. Our initial assessment is that there are about 2900 current members of the Correctional Plan who are eligible to vote in this referendum.
Not eligible to vote are about 700 current employees who were transferred from the PERA Coordinated Plan to the PERA Correctional Plan when it was created in 1999, or in 2000 when the Legislature changed the plan’s membership criteria — because they were deemed eligible for the new Correctional Plan coverage. These current plan members retained their Social Security coverage when they moved to the Correctional plan, because they were covered by Social Security while they were members of the Coordinated Plan in their correctional positions.
Why has PERA decided to allow each county to conduct its own referendum?
PERA had initially announced that the referendum would be a single statewide vote conducted under either the majority or the divided vote approach. PERA asked the affected county employers to take a position by August 20, 2014 on the voting procedure they preferred be used for the referendum. Employers voiced some concerns about the proposed process and timeline. The main points raised were:
Those counties that indicated a preference to use the divided vote procedure may proceed using that approach. In a divided vote referendum, each employee gets to decide if he or she wants Social Security coverage. Those employees who vote yes for coverage will continue to have Social Security withheld, while those employees who vote no will no longer have Social Security withheld.
The 55 percent of the counties that responded in favor of a majority vote procedure can use that procedure to conduct their own referendum. However, they can notify PERA if they would prefer to use the divided vote procedure because at the time we asked for their input, we were assuming there would be one voting procedure and the vote would be conducted as one referendum across all counties.
If a county does not indicate a preference of one voting procedure over the other, the majority voting procedure will be the approach to be used because that is what the majority of counties responding indicated preferable.
Why did PERA decide to delay the voting period until January?
Employers that have larger numbers of Correctional Plan members indicated that it would be very difficult for them to distribute the required Notice of Referendum before the proposed date of September 2, 2014. These employers asked for a delay of 30 or 60 days and PERA agreed to delay the referendum by one month. The voting will be conducted during the month of January, but final ballots must be cast by January 30, 2015.
The SSA requires a minimum of a 90-day waiting period from the time the Notice of Referendum is given to the affected employees to the time the ballots can be cast. Based on a January 30, 2015 final vote date, the Notice of Referendum must be distributed to the members by no later than October 30, 2014. PERA will make that Notice available to employers by the middle of September. Employers can distribute the Notice any time before October 30 so that the member education process can begin.
Employers are responsible for distributing the ballots to eligible employees in December or January, collecting the completed ballots in-person, and mailing or personally delivering them to PERA.
How will the outcome be decided for me and my fellow correctional facility employees?
If your county chooses to conduct the referendum under the majority voting procedure, the outcome will be determined by how the majority of your co-workers (who are eligible to participate) vote. If the majority of eligible voters, vote “yes,” nothing changes. You and your co-workers continue to contribute to Social Security and retain all your past coverage.
On the other hand, if the majority of your co-workers vote “no,” you all stop paying into Social Security and no new hires enrolled in PERA’s Correctional Plan will contribute to Social Security for that employment. You will have the option to apply for a refund of the Social Security contributions that you paid within the federal statute of limitations period, which is generally the current year and three preceding calendar years (2011-2013). Whether you can retain past service for which contributions were made by not applying for a refund is still not totally clear and we are waiting for clarification from the SSA.
If your employer conducts the vote using the divided voting procedure, each person will retain or discontinue Social Security coverage based upon the personal vote of “yes” or “no,” respectively. But, this only affects the current correctional employees in your county. Upon conclusion of the referendum, all new hires eligible to be enrolled in PERA’s Correctional Plan will also contribute to Social Security for that coverage.
Are any former county employees affected by the referendum outcome?
If your county uses the majority vote procedure, its outcome could affect some former employees who were members of the Correctional Plan between 2011 and 2014, but we are waiting for further information from the SSA. At this time, it is unclear whether the correction of past coverage for the statute of limitations period would be required, or whether the coverage already on the person’s record would be maintained.
If your employer conducts the vote under the divided procedure, no former employees are in jeopardy of losing past Social Security credits. Once the referendum has concluded, PERA would execute a Section 218 Agreement with the federal government to sanction the Social Security coverage for these individuals.
What should an employee consider in deciding how to vote?
PERA views this as a “technical correction” because we were not advised of the correct action to take when we made our initial inquiries at the time the Legislature made PERA the State Social Security Administrator (SSSA), so the referendum is a formality needed to sanction the coverage members have already earned and will have going forward, had the referendum been conducted when the plan was created in 1999.
Social Security uses an average of a person’s highest 35 years of earnings – not consecutive, but actual highest earnings – to calculate the retirement benefit. Less than 35 years of earnings means the average on which the benefit is determined will be lower, resulting in lower benefits, because the total years of earnings are averaged over 35 years whether or not you actually have 35 years or more of earnings in your Social Security record. So the more years a person has contributed to Social Security, the greater the average earnings will be for determining benefits from that program. See key terms on page 3 for additional definition of average earnings.
Social Security benefits are calculated to produce a lesser benefit for government employees who retire from a retirement system for which they have not contributed to Social Security – this SSA calculation procedure for government employees is called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) The full effect of the reduced calculation (WEP) does not apply if you have more than 20 years of substantial earnings reported to Social Security – and does not apply at all to individuals who have 30 or more years of substantial earnings covered by Social Security. The more years you have on your Social Security record, the better your benefit will be.
Social Security benefit coverage may be better for the surviving spouse and dependent children of a Correctional Plan member than the PERA plan alone provides. (See link below for where you can find more information.)
Nothing changes with respect to your PERA Correctional Plan benefits. The PERA Correctional Plan will continue to provide the current benefits of the plan whether you have Social Security coverage or not. The benefits of the Correctional Plan were intended to ‘coordinate’ with Social Security coverage.
State Correctional Plan members are covered by Social Security, thus any movement between state and local government correctional service would result in inconsistent coverage in the Social Security program.
Financial security in retirement has long been based on the concept of the three-legged stool; that is, Social Security, retirement plan, personal savings. Retaining Social Security coverage as a correctional employee ensures the three legs remain in place to support your retirement, with an estimated 35 to 40 percent of your future retirement income coming from Social Security, depending on whether you retire as early as age 62 or wait to draw at your full retirement age of 66 to 67.
For information about your PERA Correctional Plan benefits, go to www.mnpera.org and on the left side of the Home Page, click on Members, then Correctional Plan. There you will find information on your retirement, disability, and survivor benefit coverage available through your participation in this PERA plan. While you are on the web site, if not already registered, register in My PERA to access your own account for estimates of retirement, disability, survivor benefits, refundable balance plus interest or to check the personal data maintained in your PERA account (such as your beneficiaries).
Key terms used by Social Security:
AIM – average indexed monthly earnings; this is determined by indexing your earnings from years past to current dollar values and averaged over 35 years, more specifically, averaged over 420 months to arrive at the average earnings that will be used by Social Security to determine your benefit payments. If you have less than 35 years of earnings reported, Social Security will still average the total of your reported earnings over 420 months, so the more years you have paid into Social Security, the better for determining this average.
PIA – primary insurance amount; this is the benefit that Social Security calculates using their formula for replacing your AIM; it is the base from which any reduced retirement and survivor benefits are determined.
Key term used by PERA:
High five – high five consecutive years’ average salary; this is the average of your highest 60 consecutive months of earnings for which you received credit in your PERA account and is used to determine your full benefit amount payable at full retirement or for disability and is used as the base for determining reduced retirement benefits or the lifetime optional or term certain benefits payable to beneficiaries.
Following is a side-by-side quick glance of benefits payable from PERA Correctional Plan and Social Security. It is a high level summary so you should refer to the web sites for more detailed information.
Duluth membership meeting with special guest State Rep Mike Sundin District: 11A
Did you know that U.S. companies can currently receive a tax deduction for certain relocation costs when they move jobs overseas? At a time when the nation’s unemployment rate is still too high, why are we rewarding companies for shipping our jobs out of the country? It doesn’t make any sense!
Senators John Walsh of Montana and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are trying to right this wrong by introducing the Bring Jobs Home Act. If passed, U.S. companies that move jobs or business operations to America from other countries would receive a tax break, not the other way around. In fact, the tax loophole for companies that ship jobs overseas would be closed. These companies shouldn’t be rewarded any longer.
A vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act is expected in the Senate this week. Please email your Senators today and ask that they “Bring Jobs Home” by supporting this legislation.
The week of July 13th through the 19th is Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week. It’s a time to recognize the correctional professionals who are responsible for supervising adult and juvenile offenders in the community. The duties of these men and women are essential to the criminal justice system and public safety, but there have been no presidential proclamations, ceremonies of note, or flag waving to honor these brave officers and personnel. They wear the forgotten badge.
After an offender is convicted, depending on the particular conditions of sentencing, a probation or parole officer is assigned for the purpose of supervising the offender’s conduct in society. According to the American Probation and Parole Association, 4,793,934 Americans are under the supervision of a community corrections program. The Minnesota Department of Corrections lists over 122,000 Minnesota offenders under community supervision. At the state level, 2,446 offenders are supervised for violent crime and 1,534 offenders are supervised for criminal sexual conduct.
Probation and parole officers supervise offenders through an array of methods in the form of home visits and searches, drug testing, counseling and coaching. When combative situations arise, probation and parole officers can use force to disarm or restrain an offender without relying on defense tools such as firearms or tasers. Safety is becoming an increasing concern as more Minnesota counties require probation and parole officers to wear bullet-resistant vests during contact with offenders.
Community supervision is a proven system that is less costly than incarceration as demonstrated by the continued decline in adult recidivism rates. Probation and parole officers should be treated with the same dignity and respect on the job and in retirement as other officers or personnel in law enforcement and corrections. For this week, let’s make a solid commitment to honor our probation and parole officers for the exceptional work they do for all of us every single day!
Let’s congratulate our Joint Council 32 Keegel-Yates $2,000 2014 scholarship winners!
Martin Duffy Adult Learner Scholarship $500 2014 winners
1. Troy Denneson
2. Marc Schultz
The Teamsters Local 320 Welfare Trust Fund is a comprehensive dental and orthodontia plan. The Plan has been run very efficiently over the years. In fact, the Plan has made benefit improvements while keeping a hold on premium costs.
The Plan offers a single premium rate whether a participant is single or has dependents.
Over the period of 2004 - 2016, the total premium increases are less than 1% annually overall.
The Plan uses Zenith American Solutions as the administrator, so our Employers simply mail the payment in and the rest is taken care of.
With a signed participation agreement with Teamsters Local 320, all employees are welcome to participate — both bargaining and non-bargaining units.
The Plan’s Trustees are concerned about its participants’ dental health. One benefit of the Plan that is different than most others is a $3,000 two-year dental maximum. That means a participant who requires extensive dental treatment can use the entire $3,000 in a single year.
In addition, the Plan’s reimbursement rates are more generous than most:
· Preventative Care - 100%
· Basic Services - 100% (typically 80%)
· Endodontics, Periodontal & Oral Surgery - 90% (typically 50-80%)
· Major restorative - 80% (typically 50%)
A separate $1,500 Orthodontia benefit payable at 100% for children from ages 8-18
All of this adds up to lower out of pocket costs for employees and their families.
If you have questions about Teamsters Local 320’s Dental Plan or you want to discuss offering the Plan to your employees, please contact Brian Aldes or Sami Gabriel at (612) 378-8700 or 1-800-637-5430
Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend!
Brothers and sisters,
This Memorial Day Weekend I want to send greetings and best wishes to all Local 320 families. If provided the opportunity, I encourage you to take some time to enjoy the holiday. Always remember that Memorial Day is not just about long weekends, picnics, or welcoming the summer months—it’s about honor and sacrifice.
Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces—those who fought and died for our freedoms and our way of life. The men and women who served our Nation’s military and continue to serve warrant immense admiration from every single citizen of this great country.
Teamsters Local 320 will never forget the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We stand in solidarity with those who fight for our freedoms and we shall do so forever!
Teamsters Local 320 held its spring 2014 membership meeting and invited Representative Debra Hilstrom to address the meeting. Secretary-Treasurer Brian Aldes discussed the 80th Anniversary of the 1934 Teamsters Strike, 2014 Lowell D. Lynch Scholarship awards and the Local 320 strategic plan.
Teamsters Local 120 with support from the Unions of Joint Council 32 cordially invite you to join us at a rally/picnic to commemorate the events of the 1934 Teamster strike. We will provide food, beverages and speakers.
The event will be held on July 19th, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Boom Island in Minneapolis. Plenty of free parking will be available. After the rally/picnic (approximately 3:00 p.m.), we will shuttle members to a staging area near the Star Tribune and march to the site of Bloody Friday at the intersection of 3rd St. and 6th Ave.
A street festival at the site will begin at 4 p.m. put on by the Remember 1934 Committee. We will also be shuttling people from the street festival back to Boom Island.
Family Picnic: Sunday, July 20th, 12:00 p.m. Minnehaha Park, Wabun Picnic Area
This week Teamsters Local 320 recognizes and congratulates all peace officers and especially members of the Minnesota Teamsters Law Enforcement League (MNTLEL).
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund:
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
The sworn men and women of law enforcement are some of the most courageous and determined individuals on the planet. They save lives, protect our communities, and ensure our safety. From time to time we take these brave men and women for granted—which is always wrong, but happens nonetheless. So for Police Week let’s make a solid commitment to honor our sworn law enforcement officers for the exceptional work they do for all of us every single day!