For immediate release: August 21, 2015
Contact: Eric Feaver, MEA-MFT President, 406-442-4250
For the last two years, since the adjournment of the 2013 legislature, MEA-MFT, the union that represents Montana public school educators and thousands of other public employees, has waged two legal battles to preserve guaranteed annual benefit adjustments (GABA) in the Montana Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
Yesterday, after losing two district court decisions and facing a third round of district court litigation, the state agreed not to pursue further appeal of its district court losses to the Montana supreme court, thus securing guaranteed annual benefit adjustments in both TRS and PERS for persons already retired and those still working who were employed on or before July 1, 2013.
In return, MEA-MFT agreed not to pursue state payment of its legal expenses defending GABA in court.
The battle began when the 2013 Montana Legislature passed GABA-reducing amendments to bills that MEA-MFT supported that saved and amortized TRS and PERS. At that time, MEA-MFT repeatedly stated that fiddling around with GABA was unnecessary to amortize the systems and contrary to contract law. MEA-MFT promised to sue if GABA amendments were adopted. Unfortunately, the 2013 legislature placed GABA amendments in otherwise excellent pension-saving legislation.
“But as of yesterday, these cases are now settled once and for all,” said Eric Feaver, MEA-MFT President.
“I applaud the State of Montana for these agreements. And I proud of my union. Working with Governor Steve Bullock and several key Democratic and Republican legislators, we did what we promised to do: Save and amortize Montana’s two primary public employee retirement pension plans. I hope all retired persons and all state, local, and public school employees employed before July 1, 2013, will breathe more easily now that the guaranteed annual benefit adjustments in the pension plans in which they are invested will be there for them throughout their retirement years.”
MEA-MFT represents nearly 18,000 k-12 teachers and school support staff, Head Start employees, state and county employees, university faculty, and private-sector health care providers working in communities all across Montana. MEA-MFT is a merged affiliate of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers and is the largest affiliate of the Montana State AFL-CIO.