Retiree Unit 30th anniversary

Retiree Unit celebrates 30th anniversary

You retire from your job, not the union

"There’s a party going on right here, a celebration to last throughout the years."

Kool and the Gang

Martha Penry, chairperson of the Retiree Unit Executive Board, can’t think of words that ring truer to mark the 30th anniversary of the Retiree Unit. “We celebrate because we have not stopped working to make things better for classified school employees,” Penry said. She retired in June 2016 and immediately joined the Retiree Unit before being appointed chairperson in August 2020. In the late 1980s, Bill Turner and Bill Antonelli laid the groundwork for the Retiree Unit that began as a two-year pilot program and was eventually founded in 1991 after the approval of a resolution at that year’s Annual Conference. The Retiree Unit has more than quadrupled in size since its creation, with 11,505 retirees in 56 councils. Among them is Council 5000, which accounts for 1,414 retiree members who now live outside California.

Martha Penry, chair of the Retiree Unit Executive Board

Bill Turner, founder of the Retiree Unit

“We’re celebrating 30 years of coming together for advocacy for active and retired members, protecting our pensions and having a bit of fun along the way,” Penry said. It has become an important part of CSEA, offering a way for those who were once active members to continue their service to the union after years of dedication to their students and school communities. The fee to join is nominal at just $36 a year, a mere $3 a month, and the payback is invaluable.

"We’re celebrating 30 years of coming together for advocacy for active and retired members, protecting our pensions and having a bit of fun along the way."

The Retiree Unit has implemented many successful programs, including the Granny Grants scholarships awarded to retirees’ grandchildren; Retiree Leadership Conference; and board subcommittees such as the conference committee and constitution and bylaws committee to shepherd some of the different issues. A wide array of events and benefits are also offered. Among the most popular are Tru Hearing, UIP Medicare, Met Dental, VSP Vision and the $5,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment Policy. In fact, Penry has a friend getting ready to retire in June, who was planning to have surgery. After talking to Medicare, she determined that if she waited to have the procedure until after she retired, she can save $3,000 because of her Retiree Unit medical benefits.

Additionally, over just the last five years, CSEA has supported or opposed 27 retiree-related legislative bills. Retirees have been actively involved with important text and phone banking campaigns and outreach such as walking precincts and participating in rallies. They have given back to their communities through various volunteer and donation efforts and have donated thousands of dollars throughout the years to CSEA’s disaster relief efforts for members and retirees in need.

"As an active member, I worked to protect my family and in retirement, I do the same thing."

With the end of the school year, June is one of the most popular months for CSEA members to retire, which is why Penry said it is important, now more than ever, to connect with those on the verge of leaving their school district. This year, they were involved in a successful text messaging campaign to recruit new members to the unit. It was incredibly successful, but they still need help spreading the word. “As an active member, I worked to protect my family and in retirement, I do the same thing,” Penry said. Please enjoy these stories of retiree members who have stayed active in retirement and our very own Association President Ben Valdepeña, who is looking forward to becoming involved with the Retiree Unit next year.

The Retiree Unit has more than quadrupled in size since its creation, with 11,505 retirees in 56 councils.

Association President looks to future retirement

Ben Valdepeña

Association President, Soon-to-be Retiree

"A lot of people retire and they don't have a plan, you know?” Valdepeña said. “Just being part of the Retiree Unit can be part of a plan for you to do something and keep busy like you were when you were an active member."

Why do you say “I’m Still In!” to the Retiree Unit?

Carmen Sexton Boykin, Riverside Retiree Council 5023

Regional Representative, Region 77

I am still in until I am unable to do so because without activism we can’t grow.

Tammy Shafer-Noriega, Lynwood Sentinels Retiree Council 5019

Regional Representative, Region 93; Council Secretary

I say I'm still in because how can I not? I've got a great group of people, with Martha Penry leading the way. I'm so excited to see where we're going to go. And I hope that I can inspire somebody. That's ultimately why I'm still in: I want to inspire others.

Sydney Moy, Inland Empire West Retiree Council 5014

Area B Rep, Political Action for Classified Employees (PACE) Committee; Steward, Waugh Chapter 893

Being a retiree is just a stepping stone to continue the work I enjoyed before I retired. Not only that, I can be certain my future involvement is following our mission statement: To improve the lives of our members, students and communities.

Isa Wiechmann, Modesto Retiree Council 5010

Administrator, Manteca Chapter 50; Regional Representative, Region 17; Council Secretary

I think it means I continue to share all that I have learned from more than 22 years as an active member. I'm still in for what we can do to make a difference. It doesn't have to end because we're retired.

Retiree benefits

Retirees who join keep all the member benefits an active member has, including:

  • Free $5,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment Policy. Click here to download the certificate for your records.
  • Free College Programs for themselves and their family members. Click here for more information.
  • Free Legal Referral Program
  • Access to Humanitarian and Emergency Assistance
  • Free Medicare Health Plan Counseling
  • Access to Group Dental and Vision Insurance plans
  • Guidance for Social Security and CalPERS issues
  • And all other services and member benefits that active members receive. Click here for the online CSEA Member Benefits Guide.

Sign up today

Click here for the application to share with your friends.

For more information about the CSEA Retiree Unit, see a chapter officer, contact your local field office or visit www.csea.com/retiree.

Ways to help

  • Ask at least one former or retiring school member to join. Every little bit helps!
  • Ask the person in Human Resources that conducts any exit paperwork with members who are leaving or retiring to provide them with the application and this valuable information.
  • Celebrate retiring members at chapter meetings and give them the application and information.
  • Make sure all members know about the CSEA Retiree Unit.

President's Message

From the Capitol

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