The Retired Public Employees’ Association (RPEA) of California began as a Retired State Government Employees’ Association of California in 1958. An amendment to the Articles of Incorporation changed the name in July 1969. This change allowed the association to include classified school employees and retirees from other agencies contracting with CalPERS for pension management. RPEA’s primary mission is to maintain and enhance the pension and health benefits of retired public employees.
Over the past 60 years RPEA has been working with others to accomplish many of the following:
- In 1961 legislation was passed to give CalPERS the task of implementing the Public Employees Medical and Hospital Care Act (PEMHCA). All retired state members are covered by PEMHCA. Many contract agencies employees may also be covered. CalPERS now administers health plans for hundreds of thousands active and retired public employees.
- In 1974, a “Retiree” position was added to the CalPERS Board. This position is elected by a vote of all retirees and represents the interests of all retired members of CalPERS.
- In 1978, RPEA retained the services of Aaron Read and Associates to assist in lobbying for the Association. Aaron had been working as a volunteer with RPEA since it was founded. He was very instrumental in assisting RPEA with legislation in 1979 to sponsor a bill which provided a 10% increase to all retires members of CalPERS. This corrected some of the inflationary impact on retirement income.
- In 1982, RPEA sponsored legislation creating the Investment Dividend Disbursement Account to raised the purchasing power of retirees up to 75%. In 1991, this program was replaced by the Purchasing Power Protection Act (PPPA) which retains retiree’s purchasing power at 75%.
- Because of continued efforts to raid PERS retirement accounts to balance the state budgets, by Governors Deukmejian and Wilson, RPEA and Aaron Read drafted Proposition 162 to give PERS the “Plenary Authority” over the funds held in trust for its members. The passage of Proposition 162 established the composition of the CalPERS board in the State Constitution.
- With the help of Aaron Read, the State Controller agreed to allow a card insert with information about retiree organizations to be sent out with the monthly warrant statement. This card insert program was managed by RPEA for about 20 years.
- In 1999, the investments held by CalPERS exceeded 100% of that needed to pay benefits for the future. The excess in investment earnings allowed CalPERS to permit many agencies a “pension holiday” for payment of contributions to the fund from 1999 to 2002. In 1999 the legislature passed SB 400 which provided for a 1-6% Cost of Living Allowance and safety workers a retirement package of 3% at age 50.
- In 2012, the RPEA Director of Health Benefits negotiate with CalPERS to include drug plans to allow members to obtain medications for up to 90 days with a lower cost mail delivery service. In 2014, the Director of Health Benefits was successful in obtaining a “grandfather” provision to allow brand named drugs to be continued without requiring an adverse impact for generic step therapy. This provided a benefit for approximately 17,000 active and retired members.
- In 2013, RPEA and Aaron Read’s office negotiated with the Governor on proposed Pension Reform legislation. Many of the harsher reforms were dropped. RPEA supported needed changes in salary spiking, removal of air-time purchases, and maximum benefit caps.
- In 2015, at the request of the RPEA Stockton Chapter, RPEA sponsored legislation (AB 215 Gordon) which allows retirees to organize and participate in bankruptcy court to protect the claims of retirees should their public agency declare bankruptcy.
- RPEA continues to work with CalPERS staff and the CalPERS Board of Administration to solve problems with retirees' pension and health benefits to insure a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.
- In 2017, RPEA supported legislation to protect employees of Joint Powers Authorities (JPA) from losing their pensions when a JPA ceases operation and fails to pay its termination fee to the pension fund that covers its employees.
RPEA dues are not used for political campaigns. RPEA has formed independent committees, the Legislative Action Organization (LAO) and the Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) to provide volunteer contributions to be used for political campaigns (LAO) and information campaigns on legislation or ballot initiatives (IEC).
For over 60 years, RPEA has been active in representing the interest of retirees. We have participated at every level of government to expand and protect the rights and benefits the retired public employees have earned. Threats continue to denigrate public employment and roll back our rights to a secure retirement life.
RPEA will continue to fight back and present the truth about what retirees have earned as deferred compensation for the years working at all levels for the people of California.
Please consider joining us and continue the work. You can find a chapter in your location by checking our website at www.rpea.com, or calling 1-800-443-7732