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Yvonne Walker for CalPERS Board

CFT endorses Yvonne Walker for CalPERS Board
Voting period — November 5 to December 5, 2022

The CFT has endorsed Yvonne Walker for the retiree seat on the CalPERS Board, in a run-off election starting November 5.

Yvonne Walker is a national leader on retirement security. For 13 years, Walker served as president of SEIU Local 1000 for which she secured significant salary increases for members and beat back attempts to cut healthcare and pension benefits. 

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How CalSTRS and CalPERS pensions are protected from inflation
Governor signs CFT-sponsored legislation to provide earliest CalSTRS retirees another supplemental check

Both CalSTRS and CalPERS have mechanisms in place to guard a retiree’s defined benefit pension against eroding purchasing power. The first is a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, and the second is a “floor” below which the buying power of a pension cannot fall. Now thanks to a CFT-sponsored bill recently signed by Governor Newsom, CalSTRS retirees from earlier decades will see additional relief.

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The names of the schools are etched in our minds: Columbine High, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High, Uvalde Elementary. Gunmen with grudges have struck at all grade levels and in every corner of the country.

Most shootings take place at businesses, but news stories more often focus on schools. Deadly shootings are, in fact, tearing up U.S. schools at a record pace. According to Education Week, as of October 24 there have been 40 school shootings this year, with a toll of 34 dead and 88 injured.

State Capitol

Governor signs six CFT bills, plus budget trailer bills with union priorities
Legislative Update

Governor Newsom signed six union bills at the end of September that the CFT successfully lobbied in both houses of the Legislature. The CFT had sponsored or co-sponsored 16 legislative bills alongside several budget proposals in the last year of the 2020-22 legislative session. A majority of these priorities made it to the governor’s desk or were included in the state budget, with only one bill being vetoed by the governor.

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We are united for education and justice
Back-to-School tour and opinion poll provide strong foundation for strategic planning

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

Another school year has started. As an educator, August and September have traditionally been the time when I set New Year’s resolutions for the coming academic year. It starts me off on a positive note to identify my goals, my priorities, and the areas in which I want to learn and grow.

I think about our work at CFT in much the same way, and just like when I was teaching, beginning a new school year as an organization is not just the work of one person. Setting goals for the CFT is not just the work of leaders or the Executive Council. Rather it demands real-time feedback from our membership so that we, as a statewide union, can respond to the issues members identify as top priorities. To do that important work, we have undertaken a number of projects to listen to members and respond to what we have heard.

Find Key Resources

Post

WEP/GPO Repeal Toolkit

TAKE ACTION

Sign the AFT Petition!

The AFT is collecting signatures to help repeal the WEP and GPO.

SIGN THE AFT PETITION

Sign the Move-On Petition!

The national Alliance for Retired Americans started a petition to push the U.S. Congress to enact legislation that will repeal the WEP and GPO. Add your support by signing on to the Moveon.org petition. It’s fast and easy!

SIGN THE MOVE-ON PETITION

Contact your Congressional Representatives

Please contact your elected representatives to urge support of these bills before the U.S. Congress. The legislation listed below is current as of December 15, 2021.

Priority Bills

 H.R. 82 The Social Security Fairness Act of 2021 was introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis (D-IL) and would repeal WEP and GPO. It is the most comprehensive and bipartisan piece of legislation with 301 co-sponsors as of September 27, 2022!

H.R. 5723 Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust was introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-CT) on October 26, 2021, and would repeal WEP and GPO, among other issues. The bill has 194 co-sponsors, all Democratic. 

S. 1302 The Social Security Fairness Act to repeal WEP and GPO was introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on April 22, 2021. The bill has 36 co-sponsors, 30 Democratic, 2 Independent, and 4 Republican.

Limited Scope Bills

H.R. 2337 The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act was introduced by Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and proposes a modified repeal of WEP. It has 183 co-sponsors, all Democratic.

H.R. 5834 The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2021 was introduced by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) on November 3, 2021, and would eliminate the WEP. The bill has 38 co-sponsors, 35 Republicans and 3 Democrats, all Texans.

THE FACTS

Quick Definitions

The WEP and the GPO are penalties that negatively affect retirees who receive pensions from government agencies that do not participate in the Social Security system. This includes California teachers who are in CalSTRS. Many of these retirees have earned Social Security retirement benefits from other work during their lifetimes or for being an eligible spouse. The GPO and WEP cut or eliminate earned Social Security retirement benefits.

  • WEP — Windfall Elimination Provision
    Can cut an amount up to to half the value of your pension from the Social Security you have earned in other work. The WEP may reduce your Social Security benefit, but it will not eliminate it.
  • GPO — Government Pension Offset
    Affects your spousal, widow or widower Social Security benefits that are based on your spouse’s earnings. If you are married to someone who is earning Social Security, you will probably lose all spousal or survivor retirement benefits due to you from taxes paid by your spouse during the marriage.

Resources

U.S. Social Security Administration

CalSTRS — ​How does Social Security affect me?

Congressional Research Service — Search for WEP and GPO to find current reports.

Books

Social Security Offset Penalties book coverThe Hero's Penalty book cover

Social Security Offset Penalties 
By Jeanette A. Wicks (Cactus Valley LLC)
Covers how each offset penalty will affect you, how offsets are calculated, why they are unfair, and how to take action to end them. 

The Hero’s Penalty
How Social Security Works for Educators 

By Devin Carroll
Directly focused on the WEP and GPO, but more from the viewpoint of how to work around them rather than how to repeal them. Carroll also has a YouTube channel that covers retirement issues.

Social Security Works!
Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All  

By Nancy J. Altman and Eric R. Kingson (The New Press)
A highly respected, thoroughly detailed factual rebuttal of misrepresentations of Social Security’s problems, a book that offers solutions in a progressive framework that make clear sense about how to resolve “the crisis.”

NEWSROOM

These articles help explain the impact of the WEP and GPO on California teachers and other public service workers. 

From the CFT and AFT

From the General Media 


Find all of our articles related to retirement security in the CFT Newsroom.

RESOLUTIONS

The CFT has passed the following resolutions in support of repealing WEP and GPO.

The AFT has passed these resolutions.

PARTNERS

In addition to working with the AFT and the NEA, the CFT partners with the following organizations, to fight for elimination of the WEP and GPO.

National WEP/GPO Task Force
A national coalition of representatives from retiree organizations including the CFT working to repeal the WEP and GPO.

Social Security Fairness
A grassroots coalition working to change the WEP and GPO that deny many public employees, including California teachers, the Social Security benefits they have earned.

California Alliance for Retired Americans
The statewide alliance that unites retired union workers and community groups to win a more secure future for individuals, families, and future generations.

California Retired Teachers Association 
CalRTA’s mission is to protect and advocate for retired and active educators’ pensions and other retirement benefits and to support public education in our communities.

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