Will OEA also write the Actives' speeches for them & send a limo to pick them up? How about holding their hands, too, as they deliver their speeches?
John, a Proud CORE member
(Text also printed below)
OHIO SCHOOLS OCTOBER 2005
STRS and HCA launch member education, engagement campaign
This fall, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) and the Health Care Advocates for STRS (HCA) will jointly host a series of meetings with contributing members, employers and retirees in the STRS pension system to discuss the future of STRS retiree health care. The education and engagement campaign is a component of the health care strategic plan adopted by the STRS Board in May.
The STRS and HCA plans were finalized at the September STRS Board meeting during which 17 OEA and OEA-R representatives spoke in support of the continuation of affordable STRS health care for current and future retirees, the need for a dedicated revenue stream to fund retiree health care benefits, and continuation of the 35-year formula established in SB 190.
“I am here to ask members of this new STRS Board to consider the huge impact a sound retirement plan with an affordable health care package will have in retaining younger teachers in our profession so that they can gain the expertise and vision necessary to spend their career with our children for the duration,” OEA member Maureen Reedy, a teacher in Upper Arlington and 2002 Ohio Teacher of the Year, told board members.
“Those of us in education for the long haul know that every day we are investing in our students’ lives and our society’s future by choosing to stay in the profession. We have always looked to our retirement as one of the long-term financial benefits in a career that does not have financial parity with other professionals with similar educational backgrounds,” Reedy explained.
“Teachers work every day to build our students’ knowledge and prepare them for a thinking, participatory role in a democratic society. We are here to ask the Board to continue its commitment to the democratic process of surveying active and retired members, their employers, health care advocates and professional organizations about possible solutions to the retiree health care problem.”
“STRS has a long history of serving teachers,” Mark Meuser, president of the Gahanna Jefferson Education Association, told the board members and audience. “It exists for the benefit of those members of society who have dedicated their lives to public education. I know that the STRS Board has several new members. I trust that these new members share with the experienced members not only a sense of duty to be fiscally responsible, but also an obligation to protect the interests of those for whom STRS was created.”
OEA-R member Len Codispoti said that he has watched as the STRS and HCA have struggled to find a solution to the problems of providing health care that maintains quality care and yet holds down costs. “I am proud of the health care that STRS has been able to provide to this point and wish to see it maintained. These benefits continue to require larger and larger portions of our resources and we must face the fact that action must be taken, now, to prevent us from running out of the resources needed to provide these benefits.”
I am here to ask members to consider the huge impact a sound retirement plan with an affordable health care package will have in retaining younger teachers so that they can gain the expertise and vision necessary to spend their career with our children for the duration. MAUREEN REEDY
In his testimony, Scott DiMauro, president of the Worthington Education Association and president of Central OEA/NEA, said, “Quality health care is not free. While many costs associated with our nation’s health care system seem to be spiraling out of control, there are measures that can be undertaken in the area of hospital and physician procurement, creative utilization of prescription drug formularies, and proactive measures to promote healthy lifestyles and wiser consumerism, that will help contain costs to the extent it is possible to do so.”
“Any solution to the health care challenge must involve long-term, sustainable strategies that involve both active and retired members sharing in both the costs and benefits of change,” DiMauro noted.
The STRS and HCA campaign speaks to the concerns raised by Association members through its primary goals:
1. To educate members about the economic realities of health care and explain that employees will need to plan for the increasing cost of health care.
2. To assess the level of support among members for a legislative proposal to create a dedicated revenue stream for retiree health care. This revenue stream would be funded by an increase in the employee and employer contribution to the retirement system.
The purpose of the engagement campaign is not only to share information about health care with STRS contributing members and retirees, but also to gather meaningful feedback regarding members’ thoughts about the future of the STRS health care benefit. The campaign will begin with presentations to leadership groups such as the OEA Executive Committee. Throughout October and November, regional presentations will be made across the state. Additionally, STRS will provide a presentation that members can view online and will distribute related printed materials.
“I am excited about the partnership between HCA and STRS to address the issue of health care,” says OEA Secretary-Treasurer Bill Leibensperger.
“We need to educate our shared constituencies about the economic realities of health care and we need to assess the level of support for creating the dedicated revenue stream that is needed. We need to gather feedback and generate broad consensus around a sound proposal for funding these benefits. This type of change will require a legislative change, so we will all need to be together and vocal in our advocacy. It’s a daunting task, but I continue to believe that as Ohio’s educators we can help shape the future."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Now it’s time for leaders and members from across the state to come forward and help the new STRS Board understand that these concerns really do represent everyone. Please plan to attend or send representatives to future STRS Board meetings to provide either testimony, or presence or both. OEA Vice President Pat Frost- Brooks (firstname.lastname@example.org) and OEA Secretary-Treasurer Bill Leibensperger (email@example.com) will help with the logistics of your participation and testimony development. Please email both officers to indicate your interest.
Following are the board meeting dates for the remainder of the 2005-2006 school year. Please try to attend the October, November and December meetings especially.
October 20 and 21
November 17 and 18
December 8 and 9
January 19 and 20
February 16 and 17
March 9 and 10
April 20 and 21
May 18 and 19
June 15 and 16
Public participation is held at 1 p.m. on the Thursday meeting day. Please make it a priority to ensure an OEA presence at each of these meetings.
(I can't help wondering about OEA's patronizing, paternalistic approach, when they offer "help with the logistics of your participation and testimony development" [euphemisms for "we will see that you get to Columbus" and "we will write your speech FOR you"?]. I have always regarded Ohio's teachers as highly intelligent, very well educated and articulate individuals, quite capable of thinking, writing and speaking for themselves [and also getting themselves to Columbus]. KB)