In the fall of 2006, the AFT invited a number of locals to gather in Washington DC for a conference regarding the benefits of establishing as many retiree chapters across the nation as possible.
NAFT’s President Barb Hutchinson volunteered recently retired Dave McDonald to attend. Upon completion of the conference, he reported to the NAFT officers that he would be willing to spearhead the formation of a chapter if they approved, which they did.
Dave then returned to AFT in 2007 for an intense three day workshop on chapter formation. He returned with the goal of tentatively writing a constitutional amendment to the NAFT and a set of retiree chapter bylaws. He also recruited Dave Givens, Nina Norton, and Peg Wernert to serve with him as an Executive Committee. This group also contacted at least 30 teacher retirees to sign a retiree chapter charter for the AFT. Shortly thereafter, the AFT officially approved the charter for North Allegheny.
Our retiree chapter next expanded its Executive Committee with Pat Stair, Pat Gray, Len Thompson, Maggie Wood and Aggie Haverlack. We also reached out to Bob Devlin, Human Resources Director at NA, for the District’s help in researching then-current addresses for as many former teachers as possible back to 2000. We established a base of at least 50 members, had our proposed bylaws approved by them, established a dues collection system, and surveyed members about what types of social and educational activities they thought we should offer.
We intensified our search for new members, often contacting retirees by phone to explain what we were doing. Dave McDonald was elected President, Nina Norton Vice President, Peg Wernert Treasurer and Len Thompson Secretary. Concurrently with these activities, Nina Norton and Peg Wernert attended AFT’s Leadership Training in Maryland to share our chapter’s activities and to learn about successes and setbacks from other locals.
Over the next couple of years the Executive Committee was reconstituted with Barb Hutchinson, John Schwoebel, Deb Sagan, Pat Danahey and Terry Klein joining. We also authorized Len Thompson to create a webpage chronicling our accomplishments.
In intervening years, our membership was expanded to include all NA retirees (teachers, para professionals, administrators, custodians, bus drivers) and our numbers grew to over 200 dues paying members. We changed our title to North Allegheny Retired to reflect our enhanced membership.
Recently, NAR’s Executive Committee has added Marg Foster as treasurer, Margie Linner as secretary, Sue Hubert, Bob Devlin, Johnnie Petrick, Elizabeth Colcombe, John Schwoebel, Nancy McKnight, Pat Danahey and Lynne Burk.
We built upon our initial website by adding more learning / awareness links to further address our membership’s needs.
As we grew, we forged a more inclusive relationship with the District: we are partners at the PSERs exit meeting for current employees; we are guest speakers at the District’s luncheon honoring that year’s retirees
We continue to schedule numerous social events which our members are encouraged to attend. Sponsoring a “Not Back to School” breakfast on the first school day, highlighting that year’s retirees, is a popular activity; hosting a spring luncheon has been a success; our largest and most popular venue is our Christmas luncheon where almost half our membership enjoys a relaxing and collegial festival.
Educational concerns affecting our members are crucial to us: we have elder care seminars featuring a well know Pittsburgh attorney; we instruct members on the differences between “observation” and “in patient” status in hospitals in an effort to save money; we conduct two or three “Planning for Retirement” seminars for current District employees; we have two “Medicare Basics” seminars each year; we conduct health plan options with dealing with open marketplace, HOPs, and Advantra.
As a result, our numbers have grown to the current level (as of November, 2020) of 328 members.