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University’s expanded Retirees Association welcomes new members

By Judith Rice Henderson, USRA Membership Chair

When you leave the University of Saskatchewan for other employment or retirement, would you like to stay in touch with the campus and/or your former co-workers?  Consider joining the University of Saskatchewan Retirees Association (USRA) by applying for a free first year of membership (a $20 value) or by taking out a Life Membership (with fees prorated by age).  USRA is now the University’s only retirees association, having welcomed as Life Members during the 2017-18 academic year the membership of the recently dissolved University of Saskatchewan Non-Academic Retirees Association (USNARA).

Negotiations Bring USNARA Membership into USRA

The USRA, founded in 1989, was until recently the “academic” retirees association on campus, representing the University’s retired ASPA and USFA employees, retirees from equivalent positions in its federated or affiliated colleges, and contract researchers and research officers.

USNARA members included CUPE 1975 retirees and some former ASPA employees who, at retirement, had the choice of joining either or both of the University’s retirees associations because they had stayed in the CUPE 1975 pension plan.  In September 2017, USNARA voted to dissolve and ask the Board of Governors to approve use of its accumulated resources to purchase Life Memberships in USRA for their current membership of approximately 135.

The executives of USNARA and USRA had been negotiating a union of their associations throughout the previous summer.  At its Annual General Meeting a week after USNARA’s vote to dissolve, USRA approved constitutional changes to its own membership criteria and mandate.  USRA now will admit to membership “all persons who have retired from staff positions at the University of Saskatchewan and its federated and affiliated colleges, including staff employed under research grants and contracts.  Also persons who have been employed by the University for 6 or more years and have reached the age of 55 years.”

At its September 2017 Annual General Meeting, USRA also created  a new standing committee, Pension and Benefits, in order to continue USNARA’s role of providing a CUPE 1975 observer on the University of Saskatchewan Fringe Benefits Committee.   Following approval by the Board of Governors at its October meeting, the union of USNARA with USRA was completed by the end of 2017.

The new membership criteria of USRA mean that it is not necessary to receive a pension to join.  Those who have left the University before they are eligible for retirement or who are employed under contracts without pension benefits, such as sessional lecturers and some researchers and technicians, may be eligible for membership based on their age and length of service to the University community.  If you are leaving the University before age 55, consider joining USRA later when you become eligible.

Benefits of USRA Membership

To learn more about USRA activities and awards, see our November and March USRA Newsletters (Nos. 102-103) on our website (http://usra.usask.ca).

All USRA members are automatically enrolled, without additional fees, in the College and University Retiree Associations of Canada (CURAC), a national umbrella organization that holds an annual Congress at a Canadian college or university and that offers its members access to such benefits as insurance plans and travel programs for retirees.

June BBQ to Meet and Greet New University Retirees 

On June 11, 2018, the USRA will celebrate its membership expansion at its annual BBQ by meeting and greeting as guests of honour the 2017-18 University “retirees” (including employees of age 55+ who decided to take early leaving).   The University has promised to subsidize the attendance of these guests of honour and their partners at the BBQ, but is prohibited from supplying USRA with the contact information of its former employees, so to book yourself and, if you wish, your partner,  please contact us by email (ss.usra@usask.ca) or by leaving a telephone message (306-966-6618).   The event will be held at Louis’ patio (or loft, in case of inclement weather) at the Memorial Union Building.  Details will be announced as soon as possible on the USRA website.

How to Join USRA

Please also consider joining USRA.  The offer of a free first year of membership simplifies the process.   Just complete our application form on the USRA website, or print, complete, and mail the form you find there to USRA, RJD Williams Building, 221 Cumberland Ave. N., Saskatoon SK S7N 1M3.    You will receive by mail a Membership Card that entitles you to discounts at the University Bookstore and the Campus Computer Store.  Partners of Ordinary Members are welcomed in USRA as non-voting Associate Members, and they may inherit a Life Membership from their partner.

If you would like the Membership Committee to provide further information, please contact USRA.   We’ll be happy to answer your questions.