From RH Jones, June 7, 2012
Subject: ORTA progress - NOT!
What progress do you see ORTA making? The ORTA has not made any since the molasses slow response to SB 5. Our STRS is now at risk because politicians do not respond to those who make no waves.
Dr. Fluke and I have been trying for over 25 years to get proper retired teacher representation out of the ORTA. All they appear to want is social gatherings; so, therefore, they have no clout. I did not join ORTA for life for social gatherings on my dues! I joined for dynamic representation, politically and at the STRS - I see neither has happened, sadly.
From: Bob (RH) Jones, June 6, 2012
Subject: Re: Hi
Being an optimist, I think that with very astute investments by our STRS investment experts and with an increase in the employer contribution, we will overcome the down market as our country has done since its founding. Also, in your studies, I am sure that you may have read about the many who were made millionaires during the Great Depression of the 1930's. I personally know an individual who did just that. Money can be made by astute investors during down times.
Our STRS staff has received generous bonuses for their efforts during this time of the Great Recession of 2007, just after the STRS board voted to award the 88%/35-yr benefit to active teachers who retired at that time, and since then (some have a 100% retirement formula). Those of us who retired before that time received no such increase. I agree with you in that changes have to be made; but, I must say not for us pre-2007 retirees. We have already given up so much by not being able to keep up with inflation while having only a simple 3% COLA and HC/Rx cuts.
Yes, in time, all the other educators will be hit by not keeping up with inflation. This is because in the past so many trusted union and STRS officials, to keep us secure in our pension. All the while the STRS staff and board were partying lavishly on our money. Active and retired teachers have failed, and are failing, to monitor both the staff and board. Most educators are so busy with all the pressures of the modern world to think of having to keep track of our STRS. That is why we paid dues to our unions. And everyone knows union membership numbers are falling all over the country. Look at the sad failure of the recall of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin just yesterday. Too many union members have been voting GOP and I think, from your letter, perhaps you, [xxx], may have mistakenly voted for this mess that we are in presently. I voted for Reagan and both Bushes, and have been sorry ever since. I will not make that mistake again.
Not only I, but others in CORE feel that our ORTA has deserved the bashing, for if ORTA officials had been doing the job they were elected to do, our CORE would not ever have had to be formed. The ORTA has been part of the problem. It still is. As a member, I have a right to bash them if I feel they are not going public with positive support for maintaining and improving our pension. Personally, there is no way that I can run for office for any union. I do not have the skills to do so. Over almost 30 years of retirement, I feel that I have been helping by being a critic for the benefit of my fellow professional retired teachers. Also, I do not wish to represent administrators unless they are heroes like Dr. Conrad Ott and Dr. Dennis Leone. As a retired teacher, I work mainly on behalf of only retired and active teachers.
Concerning the Virginia Gay Fund, I think it should be opened up for male teachers as well as female. It should be solely on income, not one sex or the other. If this is not possible then, hopefully, one of our retired teachers, who may have become wealthy since retirement, could create a fund only for males. However, if our STRS does its job, that would not be necessary.
Sent: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
This is [xxx]. I saw your last e-mail about STRS and the changes in the pension. I want to talk about it with you. There do need to be changes or our pension will not last. The down market and its lasting so long has cut into our funds. Dennis Leone was right when he kept trying to tell them that this would happen. No one would listen.
The COLA is by far the largest amount of money that is paid out that can be changed to balance things. STRS has no choice but to make changes. They have been ordered by the governor and it also need to be done for the benefit of the retirees. I agree with you that the retirees have been hit for quite a while with the changes in cost of insurance etc. This time, all will be hit. Yes, it is necessary. Do I like it? No. Do I think that it must happen? Yes.
There are two programs in place to help our older retirees. One is, unfortunately, only for females. It is called the Virginia Gay Fund The second thing is no cost [for] health care if you meet certain criteria. I realize this is not a lot but it is something.
I have been trying to suggest more equitable ways to provide a COLA but with little success at this time. I was a member of CORE for quite a few years. It fact, since it originated in 2003. I began to think that the only way to change ORTA was to become an active member of it. That is where I am today.
I feel that ORTA needs to speak out more but that is slowly happening and will continue with the people that we now have on the executive board. I am hoping that you will take an active part in ORTA and help to make these changes. Bashing does no good!!! Help us instead. You can find out more about the insurance help at STRS or the Virgina Gay fund from Barbara Madison at firstname.lastname@example.org