<byline>By JoAnn Alix-Gagain<byline>
Wow what a year!!! It has surely been a whirlwind for many while being a long and lonely year as well. Technology has helped us to stay in touch and many have found other creative ways for families and friends to stay connected as well. It is so important to reach out and touch someone.
Volunteerism has blossomed; people everywhere, many of whom never thought of volunteering, came out to help others and their communities. So many folks have benefited from this commitment and resolve to help others. lt has been such a bright spot in an otherwise very divisive year. We all need to work at being more open to the opinions of others and more tolerant of their beliefs.
On a business note, I can tell you that most retirees will agree that the changing of life insurance was a rallying cry of “how could AT&T do this to us?” “Easy” is the answer, as they can. Life insurance is not and never has been protected under any law or labor agreement, just as your healthcare is not either (with the exception of those grandfathered). Pensions are the only benefit protected by ERISA. Other retiree groups across industries have brought the loss of benefits to the courts and unfortunately have yet to be successful. This is an issue that really should be addressed by changes in current laws. However, major lobbyists will fight it tooth and nail on behalf of major corporations who are also major political donors. You ask what can we do as an organization and as individuals? The power of the pen often gets action. The SRA along with other retiree associations have written to newspapers regarding the matter, hoping for publication. But the bigger impact might come from individuals as shareholders and AT&T customers.
In this issue you will find several sample letters for you to edit in your own way and send to the AT&T Board of Directors. Highlight your loyalty to the corporation for years as an employee, a retiree, a consumer and in many cases a shareholder. We have all been important brand ambassadors for this company, promoting it to our family, friends and community.
We hope that you will be diligent and get these letters in the mail as soon as possible. We also will be working on a shareholder proposal to be presented at the 2022 AT&T Annual meeting to get their attention on this issue as we have done with important issues in the past. It most likely will involve Executive Compensation and Bonus plans at AT&T. We are unable to submit though for the 2021 Proxy, as the deadline for submission was November 2020.
AT&T has not responded to any questions regarding further funding of reimbursement accounts for those who have them. As you know the current commitment from the company is to fund through the year 2023.
The new AT&T Medical Advantage Plan was rolled out along with other plans for 2021 healthcare. The company will not share the numbers of those who switched to this plan from other plans. We also provided assistance to numerous retirees and their dependents who had issues during and after enrollment. All issues that were brought to the SRA were resolved to the retirees’ satisfaction.
The SRA was unable to conduct our Florida meetings this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We do hope to hold our meeting at Holiday Hill in September. In June we will assess the conditions and limitations on gatherings, and determine if we will in fact have the meeting. We do not want to limit the number of attendees so that will be a factor.
This is also the very first edition of our newsletter that will be emailed to almost 700 members. We have made this decision after review of our escalating costs to mail the newsletter to all. This will be a huge savings to our organization and will allow us to continue in the future. As most of you know dues are no longer collected for existing members and new members pay a onetime membership fee. Occasionally, we do receive donations from our members which is very generous in today’s times. We do appreciate your generosity. We still hold our AT&T shares.
We launched a new and improved SRA website and we have had great feedback. Please take a look at it. If you are a current SRA member, register on the website and your registration will be approved within 24 hours for full access. We plan to use it frequently to update the membership on items of interest. Also, those who do register will get the newsletter as soon as it goes to the printer. No need to wait for it to be delivered or lost in the US mail. You will also be contributing to the SRA financial well-being longer term.
I also need to ask you all to do me a personal favor. I maintain the database with all of your mailing addresses, emails, cell numbers, home numbers, vacation addresses, etc. When we sent out our first email blast in 2021 to all members who have given us an email address in the past, we had over 40 email address bounce back to us as no longer viable. I have to tell you I did call some folks and reached disconnected lines too. I am sure some of you have cut the cord. I just do not have the time to try to track you down to send you our mailings, newsletters etc. If you have not advised us of a change and the post office can not forward your mail or your email has bounced back, I am sorry. You have to let me know of changes as applicable. You can use the contact page on our website www.snetretirees.org to drop me a note. (Because I monitor those too!)
I wish you all healthy days ahead and hope to see you in September, 2021!!!