Letters to the Editor

'Supposed to be free'

After acquiring my teaching credential in 1989, I interviewed with the head of the Fresno Unified School District's library system. She told me about the district's health benefits. When she said they were free for life, it helped me make my decision to work for the district.

Now I pay $70 a month for the "free" insurance. Other districts' retirees are paying more than $600 a month. Will Fresno Unified eventually charge that?

Many times during negotiations in the 1990s Fresno Unified promised the Fresno Teachers Association to keep free lifetime health benefits if the teachers accepted no or small raises. In 1999, I contracted a rare neurological disease and had to retire on a small disability pension.

The Fresno Unified Retirees Association has filed a petition for writ of mandamus against the district for not keeping its promises. Health coverage for retirees covers only 18% of the retirees (the rest are on Medicare).

Teaching is an extremely stressful profession. Retiring from Fresno Unified should not become a life of stress wondering how I am going to pay for food, utilities and health care premiums that were supposed to be free as inflation eats away at my dollar's buying power.

Mike Starry