Friday, August 17, 2012

RH Jones' speech at 8/16/12 STRS board meeting

From RH Jones, August 17, 2012
Subject: Yesterday's STRS board meeting

To all retired teachers:

Yesterday, K. Fluke, PhD and I, who are both from Summit County, spoke before the STRS board. We were the only two to speak in support of the retiree issues of maintaining our present 3% COLA and on the return of the HC/Rx that has been already taken away from us. Fluke’s speech was masterfully “off the cuff”. It was his best but, sadly, only a very few other retired teachers were there to hear him. Hopefully, it was recorded. As you may know, audio CDs of the STRS board meetings are usually available to retired teachers. You must ask them to mail them to you.

I have been told that the ORTA has been meeting with the STRS board and the legislators. That is well and good; but, from that which I have learned, they are not telling them what I think the majority of ORTA members want to hear. Although, a couple of ORTA officials were there, at this critical time in the decision coming down by the legislature, they chose, as usual, to stay quiet.

The CORE President, Dave Parshall, was in attendance and told us the Ohio Legislature will probably make its decision on September 12. Therefore, if you are a retired teacher and support the keeping of our very necessary 3% COLA, and HC/Rx, you need to let ORTA, your STRS retired teacher board members and your legislators know. You still have time, and it will help. Do not listen to those ORTA officials who say we should help our STRS long term funding by giving up the COLA and HC/Rx. We have already been deeply affected financially by the take away of a large part of our HC/Rx and further cuts can put many of us in near, or abject, poverty in the final years of our lives.

Personally, I appeal to you: When your chance comes to vote. Vote those people out of office who are so inappropriately recommending having our lawfully negotiated pension compensations so easily taken away from us - These include the legislators, the STRS board members, and ORTA officials. As a retired teacher, it is dangerous to your well being to have these people “representing” you on these issues so vital to our families and us and, yes, even the prosperity of our Ohio. For all Ohioans, education equals prosperity and we, the majority of retired teachers, do spend our pensions here at home.

Please read my message to the STRS board. While doing so, remember that we are restricted to a 3-minute speaking time. My speech:

August 16,2012
Re: political decisions to under-fund the Ohio STRS hurts retired teachers
At my own expense, I, Robert H. Jones, am here as a proud CORE member to speak for my fellow retired teachers. While an active teacher, I was employed during the terrible times of the riots here in Ohio. Tanks were deployed near my inner city classroom. Teachers were, nevertheless, going to work daily.
During these employed years, we sacrificed wages in order to gain our future STRS paid healthcare/Rx for our spouses, our dependants, and ourselves. Also, the fairly calculated 13th check was issued annually when the 30 yr. funding amortization was fulfilled. Later, a flat 3% COLA was issued once per year to us already retired along with other delayed compensations put in place under the Ohio Revised Code.
In view of favorable circumstances, I had decided to retire; however, if ! had known our deferred compensations would be so easily threatened and taken away, I would have stayed on the job longer, at a greater expense to my state and local employer. Note, however, during the present time active teachers should be aware that the STRS paid for pension benefits of dental/eye care and a compounded COLA are not available to them, nor us, in retirement.
The decisions not to adequately pre-fund were, and are, made by our politicians. They have the responsibility for making good on their obligations by increasing the revenues into our STRS. While political underfunding is happening, our STRS, during ever higher retiree medical costs, has cut the employer contribution to the Healthcare fund from 4% down to 1 % -- an astounding 75% drop! Be reminded that there has not been an ad hoc employer increase to ward off compounding inflation for retired teachers in around 25 ­years.
In other words, we teachers could have asked for more, but have not. Speaking as one retired teacher, I encourage you STRS officials, the legislators and the ORSC staff to not be so hard-hearted and, in the all finitude: Be aware of the retired teachers rights, which are guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Please know that we are protected, thanks to those military that died and pledged to die for our Constitution,
Respectfully submitted by
Robert Hudson Jones, an Ohio STRS annuitized retired teacher member
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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