President Ross to run for Retirement Board
ROSS CANDIDATE FOR RETIREMENT BOARD
My name is Thomas Ross and I am running for a position on the Somerville Retirement Board.
I am a 26 year employee with the Somerville Fire Department.
I have a very strong commitment and history of advocating for employee rights.
I was first elected to the SFD Executive Board in 1991 and elevated to the position of Secretary/Treasurer before being elected as Union President.
I serve as Co-Chairman of the Somerville Labor Coalition.
I am endorsed by Retired State County and Municipal Employees Assoc. of Mass President Ralph White.
I also serve as the Somerville Firefighters representative on the PEC (public employee’s committee) to negotiate health care in the City of Somerville.
I come from a proud Union household. My Father, Buddy Ross who retired from the Fire Department was a long time elected Union representative including a position as President of the Firefighters Union. He passed away from occupational cancer in 1995 and my Mother, Hope is still a member of the retirement system as a surviving spouse.
I saw the disappointment my Mother felt when three years ago the City neglected to pass any cost of living adgustment to her meager pension. More recently, the City chose to increase pensions by an inadequate 2 ½ % on only the first $ 12,000 of the pensions.
It’s been three years since the 105 retirement systems have had the opportunity to raise their COLA base from $ 12,000 to as much as $18,000. Since this date more than 50% of the retirement systems have raised the base. Somerville has not. This is a mistake. If elected, I will make this a priority.
Massachusetts municipal employees pay some of the highest cost toward their pension in the country. Public employees do not belong to the Social Security system. This means that the City does not have to contribute the 6.2% contribution for its employees that States who are in the system do. This savings should be enough to pay a modest COLA for all retirees.
Governor Patrick has proposed a new bill to attack OPEB (other post-employment benefits). Mass House Bill 59 is just extension of pension reform. It forces employees to work 30 years to earn maximum health care benefits. If passed, you must work 20 in order to qualify for any health care benefits at all. I am actively organizing opposition to this bill.
The City has made a number of decisions that impact current and retired workers that had negative consequences. Switching to the GIC was not a cost savings, it was a cost shift. The City saves money, employees pay more. This is never good for employees. Increasing Health Care Premiums on retirees is wrong. Retirees on fixed incomes should not be used to balance the budget. They should be protected.
If elected, I will actively advocate for employees both active and retired.
I will be the outspoken representative for this retirement system that you can rely on. Vote Thomas Ross number 2 on the ballot.