What Happened in January

As it relates to the Benefit Funds, several things.

  1. Summary of Material Modifications (SMM) were issued to the participants of the Defined Contribution Plan and the Lake County Indiana, NECA – IBEW Health and Benefit Plan. Please make sure that you read them carefully and to keep them along with your Summary Plan Description books and other important documents.
  2. The Benefit Funds January newsletter was published. Not only does that document contain the details behind the changes and improvements described within the aforementioned SMM, but, and in no particular order, it also contained:
    1. A reminder of the e 2024 increase in the Pension Fund accrual rate.
    2. A reminder of the 2024 increase that was provided to all retirees on the rolls as of December 31st, 2023.
    3. A reminder of the Board of Trustees renewal of the suspension of the Pension Funds prohibited work rule for calendar year.
    4. A refresher of how working within retirement could positively affect your monthly Pension Benefit as well as how it will enhance your Health and Benefit Coverage.
    5. A reminder about the proper way to use the HRA debit card so that you do not lose that privilege.
    6. A reminder of where participants can find the due date for all self-payments.
    7. A summary chart as to when all self-payments are due.
    8. A reminder that the Health and Benefit Plan does not create claims nor can change them.
    9. New Year well-wishes
    10. Thoughts on New Year resolutions/goals and membership.
    11. Thoughts on the discontinuance of the Funds newsletters.
    12. A thank you to the loyal readers of the Funds newsletters.

Pulling back our “lens” just a bit to encompass more of the nation and world, January provided more than a little discord in several areas. To recap a few:

First, January 1 signaled the beginning of an election year for the United States. All indications show that the nation’s communal taste for “batshitcrazypants” politics has not subsided. As such apologies are in order for those citizens that are cut from a different cloth then the general populace and want and expect competent leadership “sans” the sideshow, the excessive blame game and name calling.


  • Both the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills took close playoff games and turned them into soul crushing defeats for their fans.
  • Houthi rebels targeted and launched missiles at U.S. military vessels patrolling in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea off Yemen. They also aimed and struct commercial shipping in the area. The U.S. retaliated by launching multiple strategic airstrikes and general “Wack-a-mole” strikes.
  • While not being able to reverse Russian territorial gains, the world learned in January that the Ukrainians have innovated their tactics in their war to repel Russian invasion forces from their homeland. They can now accurately hit targets, supply lines and ports within Russia and as far away as St. Petersburg with their domestically produced drones.
  • Through January 31st, 26,751 people have been killed and 65,636 wounded in the deadliest Israeli – Palestinian war in modern times. However, and sadly, like usual, long-seated distrust and religious and territorial issues continue to hinder any solution (two state or otherwise) and/or any negotiations for peace.