Molly Janczyk to RH Jones, November 15, 2008
Subject: RE: "STRS cannot reduce that [retirees] pension"
True Bob. But, STRS is speaking of the amount of your pension check, only. In high times, $40,000,000 + was used for retiree 13th cks annually from discretionary monies. Those high ride times will probably never be seen again. Opportunities missed by STRS to seek HC legislation also long past. I doubt that HB 315 will be passed anytime in the near future.
STRS is wise to raise retirement ages and to seek alternate means for opposing legislators and school boards to consider legislating for educators. Many already see us as wealthy enough with many going for 88% of our salary for pensions, ability to retire early by most standards: 52-57 (with 35 yrs) when most of America retirees at 62 (early) to 66 now for my age group and older for younger workers affected by increased years by Soc. Sec. We get more today for our pensions than does the Soc. Sec. worker and have supplemental insurance thru STRS when many only have Medicare.
I am not speaking FOR STRS; just looking at what legislators and school boards argue.
STRS needs to make changes for REAL consideration and the ORSC is looking at age requirements to be increased whether OEA likes it or not. It would hurt very little to have incremental increases beginning 6 yrs out to 31 yrs., and so on.
Make 20 yrs. the earliest retirement for receiving HC benefits at higher premiums and higher out of pockets to encourage working longer and withdrawing later for those who can afford to retire early or who have supporting salaries from a spouse who also has HC benefits. NOTHING but access to HC for 15-19 years of service for NEW retirees. Disability is, of course, not in this mix but a separate entity.
IF someone is able to work another job besides education, disability should not be given. We should not be supporting able-bodied persons who can work full time jobs other than to 'possibly' add to income if they cannot make educator salaries. True disabled recipients are absolutely covered. Why are we paying individuals disability benefits who work full time jobs outside of education complete with HC benefits???? On the other hand, there are some who are kicked out that need revisiting who cannot earn enough to support their families and have HC. Subsidies may be in order -- but not full disability IF a person can work. There are many jobs that do not have the stress of teaching but connected to education that our unions need to secure for these individuals: library work, office work, education reps and inservice staff, etc.
Every cent needs looked at and line itemed. We are no longer able to pay folks for trying education for a brief period when they could afford to stay home or have substantial spousal benefits at home. If you can afford to retire at 15 yrs., then increase the mark to 20 yrs for early retirement with HC. Folks who chose to stay at home, may go back when kids are in school as hours are very closely aligned and still be there for their kids. Reward career teachers will less out of pocket costs.
Incrementally increase percent of salary for retirement. WE KNOW OEA AND OFT don't want this as they have rewarded themselves with the 35 yr rule. But, it is totally out of line with retiree total population and THESE ARE TOUGH TIMES!
We all make decisions. But, there should be limits to how long a person can leave their money at STRS for returning. If one go into another career, after 6 yrs., they should have to withdraw their money and should not be allowed to vote on STRS issues. Benefits should never be provided for those who leave and do not return in 6 yrs. as then kids would be in school full time.
In tough times, tough decisions should be made BUT NOT ONLY FOR RETIREES AND UPPING THEIR COSTS WITH NO HOPE OF INCREASING THEIR INCOME! We are a retirement system for active and retired educators, and BOTH should be affected in good and bad times. No one or few are going to leave over one year of increasing years to retirement or incremental changes. Reasonable changes for unreasonable times.
Funds for needy retirees established as well as the assistance program. WE ARE YOUR CHARITY! Denote $1 -- however much per ck donated to the fund to give to truly established needy.
TRIM! TRIM! TRIM! Current retirees were told to sell cars, homes, take less vacations, eat out less AFTER THE FACT OF IRREVOCABLE DECISIONS TO RETIRE! Time FOR ALL STRS MEMBERSHIP to chip in vs. punitive measures for those already devoting lives to education.
Freeze salary increases as our city mayor has done. Decrease extravagant over-the-top bonuses in the world of education PUBLIC pension funds vs. corporations. WALL STREET IS RELOOKING THE 90's BONUS POLICIES! SO SHOULD STRS!
STRS HAS BLED CURRENT RETIREES DRY! DO YOU REALLY THINK WE CARE TO READ ENDLESS COMMUNICATIONS ON WHY YOU CONTINUE TO GIVE THE WELL-OFF MORE AND LEAVE US WITHOUT ANY TYPE OF INCREASE WHEN OUR ANNUAL PENSIONS ARE EATEN UP MORE AND MORE EACH YEAR! EACH YR. WE PAY OUT MORE WITH NO HOPE OF INCREASE OF SIMPLE COLAS!
DO YOU THINK YOUR BOARD GOING FOR 35 YRS CARES?? They are fed rhetoric and they robotics that they are, spit it back out.
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR US TODAY! TOMORROW! Stop wasting our time with memos stating what we hear over and over. YOU CAN DO BETTER! WILL YOU?
OEA doesn't care about us. They never even mentioned us in communications until we got press time. They smirked and laughed and called us names. Finally, they had to at least mention us. They care about the actives and as Bill L. said to me long ago, "OEA is active educators." So much for considering their futures except the 35 yr rule active board members wrote for themselves and now strive to reach. 35 yrs is an achievement that should be met appropriately but going 20 pts in % is sure a giant leap for 30 yrs full retirement which less able bodied can make.