“Active and retired teachers need to get involved in issues of importance to the profession,” said Marsha Baretta, a retired South Windsor teacher. “And right now a key issue is our teachers’ health insurance fund, and it affects all teachers.”
Baretta, who was among a group of retirees at a CEA Retired Regional Member Activist Workshop in Glastonbury today, was talking about the governor’s proposed budget plan that completely eliminates the state’s contribution to the retired teachers’ health insurance fund for the next two years.
Jon-Paul Roden, CEA-Retired president and NEA-Retired Executive Council member, told his colleagues that the governor’s plan puts the retired health insurance fund in jeopardy. He called on the retirees to speak up on the issue and become more politically active. “Do whatever you can and whatever you can fit into your schedules,” said Roden. “It could be making a phone call, talking to other retirees about the issue, sending an email, or writing a letter to legislators—anything that will increase your activism and let your voices be heard.”
CEA Political Action Coordinator Conor Casey told the group to tell their individual stories about how the cuts would impact them. When asked how many attendees had already called their legislators, more than half of those in the room raised their hands.
Many of the retirees, including Ken Carpenter, a retired West Hartford teacher, said their phone calls were taken very seriously. “My call was transferred to the House Speaker’s office,” said Carpenter. “The Speaker’s aide was very receptive. He listened to my concerns and suggested sending emails or letters that could be given directly to the speaker.”
Casey agreed, telling the group, “Handwritten notes are important because legislators rarely get them and they pay more attention to them.” He added, “There’s still plenty of opportunities for you to let your voices be heard by calling, emailing, or writing—take your choice, but do something.”