The WRTO was founded in response to the information issuing from the office of the Mayor of Weymouth and from the Town Council in the Fall of 2007, that changes to the teacher health insurance plan as well as potential changes to the health insurance of both current employees and non-teacher retirees, were being considered. At that time, retired teachers were covered by the state GIC Municipal Teacher-RMT Plan.
The Town of Weymouth, under Chapter 32 Section 19 of Massachusetts Law, established a Public Employees Committee (PEC) to represent all active and retired municipal employees. Jim Moore, a retired Firefighter, was named representative for all retirees. The Weymouth teachers sought a plan which would offer comprehensive insurance coverage at a cost similar to the RMT plan for retired teachers.
After informal discussions among retired teachers, there developed an apparent need for a formal organization to represent the interests of retired Weymouth teachers, with an obvious, yet non-exclusive, focus on health insurance. An ad hoc group soon founded the Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization (WRTO), which began work on the insurance issue.
The WRTO Executive Committee, with the help from many others, researched insurance options and lobbied with all parties on the PEC: the office of the Mayor of Weymouth, the Town Council, and union groups representing active employees. The WRTO discussed our needs with Jim Moore, the retiree Rep on the PEC, and it also attempted to communicate progress on insurance issues to the teacher retirees.
After almost a full year of negotiation, the PEC and the Town of Weymouth reached an agreement that, effective July 1, 2009, all town employees and retirees would receive health insurance through the GIC Municipality Plan. Parties also agreed on the percentage of costs to be borne by the town and by the insured. As a result, all retirees, including teachers, finally had a formal contract, which recognized Weymouth’s responsibility to provide health insurance. This contract extends for six years through July 1, 2015.
The cost of the insurance for retired teachers was somewhat higher than under the old RMT plan for non-medicare retirees, and slightly less for medicare retirees. Since 2009, co-pays and insurance premiums have risen, but the increased health insurance costs have been moderate in comparison to other options under discussion three years ago. We believe that the WRTO played a very significant role in assisting the Town and the PEC to see the merits of the GIC Municipality Plan, even as we attempted to inform and assist retired Weymouth teachers in making the transition from one GIC plan to the other.
- We effectively represented Retired Weymouth Teachers in lobbying for the GIC Municipality Health Insurance Plan.
- We successfully lobbied the town for admission of teacher retirees to the Weymouth Municipal Dental Insurance program.
- We assisted the courtyard clean-up for remembrance program at the Weymouth at the Weymouth Teacher Memorial at Chapman Middle School.
- We provided information and contacts to Weymouth Teacher retirees on issues regarding their pensions and eligibility.
- We communicated periodically with retired Weymouth teachers on local retiree issues, with a focus on health insurance.
- We continue efforts to inform retired Weymouth teachers, via e-mail and regular mail, regarding state and national issues concerning pensions and health insurance, inter alia.
- On the health insurance front, Weymouth must inform GIC by October 1, 2014, as to whether it intends to remain in the GIC Municipality Plan. Therefore, negotiations between the PEC and the Town of Weymouth will begin early in 2014, about two years from now. We anticipate again playing a substantial role in the negotiation amongst all parties, to obtain the best available health insurance at minimal cost to all teacher retirees.