Guild Conference Draws Over 400 Members
AFT 1521 set its sights toward the future at its annual Health Benefits & Financial Awareness Conference on September 27th.
The topics of breakout sessions -- ranging from Demystifying Social Security and CalSTRS My Retirement Decisions to Basics of Estate Planning and CalSTRS Supplemental Retirement Savings -- were geared toward helping attendees figure out ways to ensure secure futures. Sessions ranged from an orientation to LACCD benefits for new faculty to a session for Emeritus Members (retired faculty).
‘We are here today to learn about and celebrate our negotiated benefits. Let me repeat…our negotiated benefits,” said Guild President Joanne Waddell. “As we’re about to go to the table with management to negotiate our 14th CBA, we all know that a strong membership means power at the table.”
More than 400 members packed the Sheraton Universal hotel for a day of camaraderie, solidarity, and information-gathering. They asked questions and picked up information from representatives of nearly 20 service providers and other organizations at resource tables and attended a variety of workshops.
For Guild Retirement Liaison and conference organizer Sharon Hendricks, attending the conference was like being ‘a kid in a candy store.’
“I really want newer faculty to think about retirement health benefits and all that good stuff now,” said Hendricks. “It’s so important to start thinking about financial awareness when you’re younger because there are many retirees in this room who are thinking, ‘I wish we had had this years ago.’”
“To me, it also shows our union puts its money where its mouth is,” Hendricks continued. “We see the value of learning about financial awareness and this reflects the value we have as a union to protect our members’ interests and well-being.”
During the keynote speech, attendees heard an inspiring recap of the United Teachers Los Angeles January strike from keynote speaker Arlene Inouye. She reflected on the years of attacks on labor and on educators. As a result of their strike in January, the 34,000 members of UTLA won significant victories, including capping class size.
“Our strike was a movement,” Inouye said. “It involved labor, community and parents. It’s much more than an event, it is actually a step, and we’re continuing in that movement today.”
The post-conference feedback from attendees was positive, with members eagerly anticipating the next event in 2020.
“I don’t plan to retire for another 15 years, but this conference gave me the tools I needed to be able to plan for my financial future. Please have it again!” said one member.
“After this conference, I have a better sense of how the benefits offered by the district work,” said another attendee. “As a part-time faculty member, I understand how I can qualify for health insurance. Thanks for providing this information to us.”