Thursday, April 27, 2017

80-member investment staff at STRS? You've got to be kidding me!

This was in 2013; I wonder how many there are now? And what kind of bonuses they're getting while retirees are getting poorer and poorer? Click here to read more. 

New COLA Tree from Bob Buerkle

From Bob Buerkle, April 27, 2017
Here's what your new COLA Tree looks like
With the STRS Board vote on 04/20/2017 to completely eliminate our COLA they have set a future legacy that will leave our Retirees Impoverished.
In The Past - Consider a retiree with a 1979 retirement date and a $$20,000 beginning pension, enough to buy a new Cadillac. On their anniversary month beginning in 1980, STRS provided a 3% simple COLA and continued to do so each year until 2013. Over that 33 year period their pension rose to $40,000, nearly enough to buy a new Cadillac. Even so they had lost 5.1% in purchasing power. Still, at least they saw a doubling of their original pension over that period thanks to a well-managed pension system. Over 33 years your payments would total $1,003,200 under the old STRS COLA Plan.
Today - Now consider a 2014 retiree who will likely never receive a COLA. Their pension may start off at $40,000 but it will probably never increase. Even so, that's a pension about the same amount that the 1979 retiree now receives and nearly enough to buy a new Cadillac when they retire. However, with average inflation rates and no COLAs for the next 33 years, it is unlikely that your $40,000 pension could buy any model new car in 2047. Under the new STRS "No-COLA" plan your pension payments would total $1,320,000, not the $2,006,400 it should be. You'll lose $686,400 in missing COLA payments, stolen by current "Management of the STRS Retirement System".
A recent fidelity article said that a 3% compounded annual inflation rate will cut the value of a fixed benefit in half in 24 years. The last 100 years of U.S. inflation was 3.19% so you are sure to lose 50% of the purchasing power you retired with.
        Contact your legislators immediately

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The rest of Bob Buerkle's 4.20.17 speech to the STRS Board

Since STRS public speeches are limited to three minutes, Because of this, Bob was not able to complete his speech at the time, but he did have copies to present to the Board and he did get his last sentence in. Here is the rest of his speech. Read it and weep; there's too much truth in it to cheer you up. Remember when they used to tell us STRS was the Cadillac of pension systems? Yeah, right. It's not even an Edsel today!
 *    *    *    *    *
STRS management and the Board have made a mess of our pension system. 
Thousands of teachers were forced to make quick decisions about retirement in order to beat the newly imposed retirement rules.  (in the last 5 years, the number of retirees increased from 125,000 to 159,000, a 27% increase over a short period of time). 
For every extra retiree that was forced out at the top of their pay scale, STRS receives only about half of the previous employee and employer contributions from their replacement.  This means that for many years the STRS will receive lower contributions from these replacement teachers than they would have if they had not forced so many people to retire early. 
Teachers were told that the formula would be lowered for service years beyond 30, the FAS would increase to five years from three, new age requirements were being phased in, and they would not receive a COLA for their first five years if they retired after 08/01/2013.   Now even that turns out to be a lie, since the STRS Board just eliminated the COLA for these recent retirees.  After all, they were told by STRS Counselors and even read in STRS Publications that they would receive an annual COLA without waiting five years before it started.  What a remarkable scam STRS has devised. 
Here's what retirees have learned about STRS. When you make investments that lose money, we lose benefits!  STRS balances its pension obligations by stealing our money from the retirement contract benefits that retirees were promised.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Retirees home in on the grim news.....

"Can you believe that we will never get a cost of living increase again? Retirees like me with only the STRS pension are going to be cooked. I may have  in a few years no choice but to commit suicide. Boy it sure would be horrible to ask actives with salaries we could have only dreamed about to pay more. We have nobody standing up for us.  My God Where is OEA or ORTA?  I guess I should just hurry up and die. That is now the STRS plan. Next I suppose they will take away my healthcare. My God, when will this stop?" 
*    *    *
 "This is a grim, disturbing, and devastating development. (X) paints a picture that is horrifyingly close to the reality that many retirees, especially those who retired prior to 1999, face. The loss of Medicare reimbursement coupled with this COLA cut are a blow to our financial welfare. There's no doubt that the next blow will come in the form of drastic health care changes. (X) and other members/leaders of CORE fought valiantly for ten years to stop this sort of debacle. They supported Dr. Dennis Leone and John Lazarus in their efforts to clean up the STRS Board and make them accountable to retirees even in the face of scorn and personal defamation at the hands of OEA and ORTA. Where is the new generation of retirees who are willing to stand in the gap and speak out against the draconian actions of the present STRS Board? I will repeat yet again that there should be at STRS an immediate freeze on all hiring, salary increases and bonuses until the COLA is restored for retirees."
*    *    *
"I believe the following statements are all accurate.
Retirees are the ones paying for STRS Investment mistakes
No usual and ongoing demographic changes caused this problem 
The 3% simple COLA did not cause this problem
No service formula benefits of any kind caused this problem, including the 88.5% for 35 years
The combined effect of all of the above did not cause this problem
(From Bob Buerkle)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

ORTA and OEA-R....haven't changed much in the last 8 years

From John Curry, April 23, 2017
"By the way…when was the last time you saw a representative of ORTA or OEA-R stand up, at an STRS “public speaks” portion of an STRS Board meeting and…speak as a representative for ORTA or OEA-R while calling the STRS administration or Board to task over an issue of misspending, mismanagement, or entitlement?"
I penned those words below back in 2009....and ....... at the last STRS board meeting not one soul from ORTA or OEA-R stood up at the public speaks portion of the board meeting to condemn the practices at STRS that has lost my fellow retirees their COLA....not ONE PERSON FROM ORTA or OEA-R SPOKE OUT!
*    *    *    *    *
SUNDAY, MARCH 08, 2009
Please pass the green beans!
From John Curry, March 8, 2009
To those STRS retirees looking for immediate relief...
...before the STRS Board "guts" more of our current health insurance program benefits and increases already unaffordable benefit premiums, I have some more bad news! Some of you, including myself, were hoping for almost immediate reform of our national health policy....a praiseworthy wish but...not a realistic wish. This time 'round, the President will turn over a significant amount of this "reform" to Congress. With Congress in the driver's seat comes the reality of lobbyists for the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the health insurance industry to ply their out expense. We will eventually get "reform," but it will come to us in the finished product as a "watered-down" that will still allow a profit-over-service business model. We can and should take an active interest in the directions that these "reforms" will take. We can and should become educated with the current happenings in Congress and, most importantly, write our U.S. Congressmen (and women) about our feelings concerning them. Will we?
So, how did we get to where we are today with our current STRS healthcare picture? My take.... is it is a combination of forces that have caused neglect for the retiree for over a decade. We can start the decline of our healthcare program beginning back in the Herb Dyer days. In those times it was not really a well-kept secret that Herb and some of those in management at STRS really wanted to get out of the healthcare pass it off onto the private sector.
This was compounded by teacher labor organizations who sat idly by while the management at STRS made their executive decisions with no hard questions being asked...nor hardly any questions being asked about the dozens and dozens of motions being passed monthly at STRS with an almost immediate unanimous rubber stamping by those who were supposed to be looking out for our (the retirees') interests - the STRS Board. Think about it....retired educators don't pay association dues to the OEA or the OFT, do they? The Ohio Revised Code 3307.15 didn't and doesn't apply to the OEA or the OFT. These organizations are just recently alerting the active educators as to an impending crisis with STRS healthcare...a crisis that began in the early 2000's but was certainly not actively broadcast to their rank-in-file membership until after the fact...and then the coverage was minimal. This was not broadcast to their membership, in particular, due to the fact that five of the former STRS Board members were criminally convicted for violating Ohio ethics laws...along with former Executive Director Herb Dyer. Things like this you just don't want to brag about, do you?
This was also compounded by the reality that those in executive positions at STRS were and are not educators....they are actuaries, investors, accountants, and business men and women. Some(note-not all) of them even have the Wall Street mentality that we have come to see being exposed these days in every newspaper and electronic media on the face of the globe. It was a good game for those while it was being played in an environment of lax regulations (no real STRS Board member oversight and hard question asking in our case) but....the greed and deception finally has been exposed for what it was...greed and deception. If the STRS administration didn't generate policy internally to present to the Board for adoption they brought in paid consultants who also worked in and lived by the Wall Street mentality of entitlement to do the same. Problem is, the ORC 3307.15 doesn't recognize nor condone an entitlement mentality, does it? If "our" associates, or at least those in management positions, were placed in and paid into the Ohio STRS with Ohio STRS retirement benefits things might have gone a different direction, might they have not? The same can be said for placing our Ohio politicians into the STRS retirement system rather than OPERS system they currently pay you think that may have had something to do with the vast differences in the healthcare premium schedules of STRS vs. those at OPERS and the OPERS proactive planning for future healthcare obligations? I do!
The last factor that led retirees to where we are today is one that we can blame on ourselves, the retirees! Far too many of us have stood idly by and trusted our professional (?) retirement organizations to be a watchdog over the actions and day-to-day work at STRS. These organizations have, for the most part, served only as social gathering service clubs fostering a monthly opportunity to hash over old times with portions of meat and mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans. A tasty time-out in a retiree's monthly calendar with a smidgen of current, and the most important part but not realized by retirees, legislative report which was and is usually met with the more often heard request, "Please pass the green beans!" And then.....the legislative report is neither discussed nor thought about for another month because most retired educators, as well as actives don't pay attention to their retirement system's actions and planning (or lack thereof), do they? Guess what.....they are now! The best way, unfortunately, to get the attention of a retiree is to reduce benefits or increase deductions on that monthly paycheck, isn't it? By the way…when was the last time you saw a representative of ORTA or OEA-R stand up, at an STRS “public speaks” portion of an STRS Board meeting and…speak as a representative for ORTA or OEA-R while calling the STRS administration or Board to task over an issue of misspending, mismanagement, or entitlement? It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? We do have, along with Dr. Leone, some new members on the Board that are open to your suggestions...remember that. Now, please pass the green beans!
Oh, that was SO much fun!!! Let's go after their healthcare next.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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