Sunday, December 11, 2011

VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE

This important message is being sent to WREA’s Board of Directors, Legislative, R&M and Educational Issues Committees, and Unit Presidents with email. Please feel free to forward this information.

There are emails circulating about efforts to privatize the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). Here are the facts you need to know:

1. As an organization that promotes and protects the public pension fund, WREA is carefully monitoring this issue. WREA wants to communicate factual information. WREA does not want this issue and the WRS to be made the focus of a political battle.

2. As an annuitant of the WRS, your pension benefit is guaranteed by law. Your pension is not at risk.

3. If you are currently working in the WRS, the benefits you have earned to date cannot be taken away. IF there are future changes, they will only apply to your benefits going forward, not to those you have already earned. Changes would also apply to new hires into the system.

4. The emails in circulation relates to a study mandated in the State Budget Bill. The study must be completed by June 30, 2012 and is to look at the following items:

Ø Whether to establish a defined contribution (401 k) type option for WRS employees. (Establishing 401-k type pensions are sometimes referred to as “privatization.”)

Ø Whether to allow employees NOT to pay into the fund.

5. WREA values and supports the current structure of the WRS. WREA is also providing information about the value of defined benefit plans over defined contribution plans. There are many reports and studies about this.

6. WREA is interested in the results of the mandated WRS study and will keep you informed of the process and outcome.

7. In the meantime, WREA has had reports from members that there are groups using this issue, false information and scare tactics to get people to sign recall petitions. Please be aware of this. As a non-partisan organization, WREA does not take a position on the Recall Efforts. Individuals can make up their own minds.

8. Contrary to what the emails that are circulating indicate, there are no specific plans for the privatization (other than the study) at this time. The first step is for the study to be completed.



Jane Elmer, WREA Executive Director