The chief of Alabama's biggest teacher's union cleared up his position on the make-up of the PEEHIP-TRS Board Tuesday.
"I don't want control of the board," Henry Mabry said in an interview. "I want accountability."
Mabry, who heads the Alabama Education Association, says he's done his best to stay out of the ongoing election for new members on the board that manages health insurance benefits for more than 144,000 members and about 293,000 lives.
The head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, Dr. David Bronner, recently published in the agency's newsletter that Mabry had made a "power play" to gain control of the board with members who agreed with him.
During the TRS-PEEHIP December meeting, Mabry presented a resolution to freeze health insurance rates for 2013. The board voted against his proposal 7-6. Some of the "No" votes included Finance Director Marquita Davis, Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice, and State Treasurer Young Boozer.
The AEA responded with several articles in the group's publication, voicing frustration with the board, and even publishing the names and photographs of board members who voted against the resolution.
Mabry contends that Dr. Bronner, the CEO of the RSA, "mischaracterized" his position. He says he wants to bring awareness of the "Lack of compassion for people who are teaching our children and manning our school buildings."
Leura Canary, Chief Legal Counsel for RSA, maintains that the RSA has always and will continue to have the best interests of all of its members front of mind when staff makes decisions that impact rates.
"The number one priority of this agency is to do the best they can to make each member the best retirement benefits and the best possible health insurance benefits with the lowest costs" Canary said.
She continued and said it's also worth mentioning that the cost of healthcare has continued to rise in the United States of America and the RSA has managed to keep PEEHIP fully funded while holding rates at below national averages.
Mabry with the AEA also voiced criticism of the RSA's investment strategy. "RSA has lost almost $700 million in the last five years because of these green top buildings and the golf courses and these other kinds of investments that have just lost money" Mabry said.
Marc Green, the RSA's Chief Investment Officer, said the RSA is still doing well with its funds. For the 2012 Fiscal Year that spanned September 30, 2011 to September 30, 2012, TRS investments were up 18.3 percent, the highest such return in almost two decades.
"Our returns, you know, got decimated along with everyone else's" Green said. "Our ten year annualized return in 2010 was let's say 3 percent, but over the last couple years our return has been around 6 percent, so the portfolio's coming back."
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Retirement Systems of Alabama is the primary lender to Raycom Media, the parent company of this television station.
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