The REA Board of Directors proposes to increase the monthly dues by $1 per month. The proposed increase is needed due to the pressures of inflation, the expansion of our mission, the added services and value to our members, and the increased cost of our growing non-profit organization into becoming more business-like and professional. This proposal will be presented to the REA membership at our March 8th Zoom meeting.
A Brief History: REA began as an informal organization in 1966. We incorporated and were granted non-profit 501(c)7 status in 1985. We evolved from a primarily social organization to an advocacy organization in the early 2000’s. Dues to operate REA were set at $1 per month in 2003. With the increased legal threats to our pensions, an additional $1 per month in dues was added in 2006, but the added $1 per month was restricted to a new REA Legal Fund. This total of $2 per month has not changed since that date. To repeat, the dues amount dedicated to the REA Operating Fund has not increased since 2003.
Added value for our members: For over 50 years, REA has existed to advance the social and economic welfare of all retired City employees and their beneficiaries. Over the years this has included many things, from social opportunities to defending our pensions.
We advocate on your behalf with SDCERS, especially in cases where retirees encounter unexpected roadblocks. With your support, we oversee the Legal Fund that, as of the end of 2021, was over $334,000 and growing, to be used in case of future legal threats.
We meet with City Council members and other elected leaders to help ensure that they are aware of our organization and the important contributions of our members. We expect those relationships will be of great value moving forward. We co-founded and actively support the San Diego Retirement Security Roundtable, which includes representatives of most of the retired public employee associations in San Diego (local, county, state, and federal). Through the Roundtable, we exchange information and help each other advocate for public retirees and pension security. We also offer additional benefits to member retirees through our affiliation with the San Diego Public Employee Benefit Association (SDPEBA). Many of you have availed yourselves of these benefits through easy payroll deduction.
Expanding our Mission: Over the past several years, we have been taking substantial steps to raise the image of City of San Diego retirees and REA in the community. In April, 2020, REA donated $3,000 on behalf of its members to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund. We also support efforts like the Restoring Respect initiative of the University of San Diego’s Institute for Civil Civic Engagement, City of San Diego-Prevent Drowning Foundation’s Learn-to-Swim program, SD Food Bank fundraising drives, and quality, balanced journalism, among other things. You can see reference to our support in the Voice of San Diego Morning Report, in the Union Tribune, and in other places. We are actively working to emphasize that as retirees we are still serving the community. A new REA Volunteer Program (VP) was created in September, 2021 that allows our members to work together to make organized contributions of their time to the City and community. Events include volunteering for EarthLab, Habitat for Humanity, and partnering with Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera for a local “Read Across America” day for children in grades K-5. On February 2, 2022 we assisted the San Diego Parks Foundation with their fundraising golf tourney at Torrey Pines Golf Course. These efforts are an expansion of our mission and selectively require targeted financial and volunteer investments. We believe these investments will produce very positive returns for the image of retired City employees and for REA.
Growth and professionalizing our operations: We believe our volunteer Board of Directors does an excellent job of overseeing these many services and activities. However, now with over 1,700 members, we have out-grown our ability to efficiently manage our operations solely with volunteers. We contracted with Integrated Labor Solutions, Inc. for professional membership management services and also contracted with SDPEBA for an REA call center that provides REA telephone coverage during business hours, M-F. You’ve no doubt noticed our expanded website at www.csdrea.org and you receive our upgraded monthly Newsletter and eBlasts via email. We’ve been able to significantly improve our website by cost-effectively outsourcing website development, hosting, and maintenance.
We hope soon to be able to streamline our services to you by also accepting credit card payments online and offering online membership applications and pension deduction authorization (electronic signatures) forms. While some of our members prefer paper forms, members and prospective members are increasingly expecting digital access similar to how they interact online with other organizations and businesses. We need to adapt to these expectations. Even so, we will continue to offer paper alternatives for those members who do not use email or other electronic forms of communication.
All of these services and others we expect to roll out in the coming years come with a cost, which we are finding exceeds the current REA member dues structure. The Board of Directors is therefore proposing a $1 increase per month.* We are hopeful that you will agree that this small increase is justified by the expanded services we are offering and the increased professionalism of REA. Rest assured that the lion’s share of our services will continue to be overseen by volunteers, who need the financial support this change will underwrite.
Thank you for your ongoing support and consideration of this proposal. We can assure you that your funds will continue to be carefully and prudently expended, to the benefit of all of our members, with the oversight of our volunteer leadership.
How to cast your vote: Join us for our March 8th Zoom meeting starting at 11am (we suggest you log on by 10:45 am). For those who receive our emailed eBlasts you will be sent the Zoom link and meeting info the day prior to the meeting. This eBlast will also have instructions for how to join the meeting via telephone if you are unable to participate on-line.
Questions? Call our Call Center at 1-888-730-4935.
*Upon approval dues would be as follows: $3 per month for members paying by pension deduction and $45 per year for those paying annually. Per our By-laws, dues would increase 60 days after adoption by the membership.