Saturday, May 01, 2010

STRS Board to meet May 19 - 20, 2010
Click here for details (on revised schedule).
CORE to meet May 20, 2010
Click here for details.
ORSC meeting scheduled for May 12, 2010
Click here for details.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Donna Seaman: ORTA has let us down and does not deserve my support

From Donna Seaman, April 30 2010

Attn: Ann Hanning

I have received a notification to renew my ORTA membership. I have decided NOT to renew again because of ORTA's apparent unwillingness to take on issues vital to retirees such as:
  • STRS board's continuation of bonuses/performance based incentives for investment personnel. This policy must be eliminated totally! ORTA has never spoken out about this important issue!
  • The reinstatement of the 13th check has never been addressed by ORTA.
  • The COLA proposed reduction has never been challenged by ORTA.
  • The new Aetna Advantage health coverage was not discussed by ORTA.
If and when ORTA decides to become active and involved in STRS board discussions on these and other issues, I will reconsider my decision. Until then, I believe ORTA has not met its responsibility as an advocate for Ohio's retired teachers. ORTA has let me and other retirees down and you do not deserve my support.
Donna Seaman

RH Jones: Re: Orville teachers get pay cut in 36th year (Beacon, 04/30/2010)

From RH Jones, April 30, 2010

To all:

As I said once before, some employers must stay up at night trying to figure out how to burden our OH STRS. The Beacon reports that there is a teacher step increase in the 35th year of $7,000. Then, to get them to retire, in the 36th year of teaching they give them a big salary cut!

The STRS 35yr/88% hurts the older 1/3rd of retired educators enough already. And the STRS now asks that we older retirees be penalized, perhaps illegally, with a 1% cut in our simple COLA. This coming after a previous cut in retiree’s HC/Rx, especially for retirees who now have to pay an antifamily penalty cut to the spousal and dependent coverage. Older retirees should be defended, not victimized.

RHJones, a retired STRS teacher member

Thursday, April 29, 2010

RH Jones: A violation of our right to negoiate?

From RH Jones, April 29, 2010

To all:
Could this be our STRS? Spousal and dependent HC/Rx were cut from our negotiated delayed compensations. Since retirement, educators have had to pay more for less HC/Rx coverage. I wonder: does this challenge educators' lawful rights to negotiate benefits on a state and local level?
Please notice John Curry's forwarded cartoon below.
RHJones, a retired OH STRS teacher member
Click image to enlarge.

NBC4 (Columbus): Former workers win lawsuit against OEA

Former Workers Win Class Action Lawsuit Against OEA
Click image to enlarge., April 29, 2010
By Denise Yost
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former staff members of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) are celebrating after a federal court approved their multi-million dollar class action settlement.
OEA will now pay healthcare benefits to retirees who worked for the organization even after they turn 65 years old.
"I am delighted that after all these years, that we've been able to successfully conclude this suit on behalf of all our members and all the retirees of OEA," said Jim Prater, the lead plaintiff.
Compensatory damages amount to $3.75 million. After attorney's fees, the compensatory damages to be distributed to the class members will be $2 million. This litigation has lasted more than five years.
Prater said the outcome of the suit also affects qualified dependents and future retirees, which will amount to more than $30 million over time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't ya' just love the OEA's explanation of the class action "settlement" with their former employees?

From John Curry, April 27, 2010
(Click pig to enlarge)
"The class action lawsuit resulted from a lack of clear contractual language that the Ohio Education Association (OEA) could reasonably rely on to justify the purchase of health care benefits for OEAfederal district court in favor of OEA. Based upon the Plaintiff's appeal of the district court’s decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision on the basis that the factual issues could not be decided by the lower court without a trial. Immediately prior to the start of what would be a long, costly and complex trial, the parties were able to reach settlement of all issues. The OEA is pleased that the parties could achieve a settlement of the lawsuit that allows OEA to provide appropriate benefits to its retirees while also allowing OEA to meet its financial obligations to its members." retirees over the age of 65 years old. The only court decision issued through the history of the case was issued by the
Click image to enlarge.

NBC 4 Columbus: OEA scheduled to settle class action lawsuit

Ohio Education Association Scheduled To Settle Class Action Lawsuit
By Tanya Hutchins
Published: April 27, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is scheduled to settle a $3.75 million class action suit, pending a Settlement Approval Hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Four retired staff employees from OEA say they were notified in 2004 that they would not receive health benefits after they turned 65 years old.
In 2005, they filed the class action suit, which now includes 158 people.
If approved by the court, 335 people could ultimately benefit from the settlement because it affects people who are 65 now, people who are retired but not yet 65 and people who are not retired but will be entitled to the benefits when they reach that age, according to David Cook, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
Cook says the case was originally dismissed, then won when it reached the U.S. Court of Appeals. He says in cases like this, union members often fare better than non-union members and anyone with a contract needs to read it carefully.
"See if it contains provisions that give you benefits after you retire and in particular, if those benefits are directly linked to you receiving a pension," Cook said.
He says OEA originally said the organization had a legal right to terminate the benefits and that the contracts did not bind them.
When contacted for this story, OEA issued the following statement: "The class action lawsuit resulted from a lack of clear contractual language that the Ohio Education Association (OEA) could reasonably rely on to justify the purchase of health care benefits for OEA retirees over the age of 65 years old. The only court decision issued through the history of the case was issued by the federal district court in favor of OEA. Based upon the Plaintiff's appeal of the district court’s decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision on the basis that the factual issues could not be decided by the lower court without a trial. Immediately prior to the start of what would be a long, costly and complex trial, the parties were able to reach settlement of all issues. The OEA is pleased that the parties could achieve a settlement of the lawsuit that allows OEA to provide appropriate benefits to its retirees while also allowing OEA to meet its financial obligations to its members."
Click here to visit the settlement website:
For additional information, stay with NBC 4 and refresh—Where Accuracy Matters. To submit a story idea or news tip, e-mail

The green beans are over a year old but....much of what was said then is also true now...especially the last paragraph!

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!


The ORTA problem (again)

From RH Jones, April 27, 2010
Subject: An unhappy STRS retired person e-mails Hanning & a Cc. to McGreevy
To Ann Hanning, Jim McGreevy and all:
You will find the "unhappy STRS retired person's" letter to ORTA's Director, Ann Hanning, below and Ann Hanning's response.
Personally, I have some problems with Hanning's response. As you all probably know her ORTA salary is $50,000 + and expenses. She, also, receives a STRS retired member pension. Therefore, can she afford to take some cuts in her pay and pension? From her lack of actions on the part of retirees, I would say probably.
An authority tells me that AARP has been indicted due to getting "kickbacks" from selling insurance. About 30-years ago, or so, an OEA Director was indicted for accepting "kickbacks" from insurance companies. He was found guilty and was fined, removed in disgrace from office. Therefore, OEA, ORTA, and OEA-R should be aware that association officials can be held accountable in the court system if they are found guilty of accepting "kickbacks" from insurance companies that they associations sponsor. They all spend too much time promoting insurance and should focus only on representing the membership in negotiations that improve our lot.
From Ann Hanning's response to the 3% COLA, she does not seem to be aware of the 1970 inflation that rose to 14%. Multi-billionaire, Warren Buffet, currently says that America, for a variety of reasons, will be hit soon with very serious inflation. Buffet, as a modern master in making money, should not be ignored. To keep STRS retirees abreast of inflation, the STRS board must not understand that they are authorized by law to issue a 13th check whether it is just for $1 or $1000. The calculations determined by units that is the most fair of inflation fighting legal decision they can make. As one of the few powers the board has to fight inflation for those of us who are retired, they can be lenient here.
There have been no ORTA inquires into how STRS Director Nehf comes up with the huge retiree COLA figures he says impacts so greatly on the STRS general fund. Retirees are dying off everyday, how can he, therefore, justify those outlandish figures. My opinion is that, he must be carrying out those figures into eternity rather than a realistic calculation as he appeases the ORC with a play on words; or is he responding to a political fact that actives educators are more numerous than retired members? Because of this, should the oldest 1/3 of retired educators are impacted the most? I think not!
Further, in trying to get a greater employer contribution, where has ORTA been for the past 20-plus years? And, where was ORTA when the STRS board lowered the 4% employer HC/Rx fund contribution down to only 1%. ORTA could have supported a march on the OH capital building on this but instead chose to be "milquetoast". Is it no wonder retirees are so easily victimized by the officialdom at STRS and in statehouse? Also, has ORTA discriminated against men when she mentioned a 3% COLA for those over 80-years of age and 0% for all the rest -- women outlive men, and therefore, there are more women over 80. And there was no mention of ORTA trying to keep the older 1/3rd of retirees with any kind of inflation catch-up. Do they take a stand on anything, I wonder? As the hired ORTA leader, has Hanning ever contacted her legislative ORTA committees? As a member of the SummitCTRA legislative CMTE, I, nor the Chair, have received any directive leadership memos. I have been told that Hanning has a renewed contract to serve for another 3-years. May I ask for what? To continue to just sit on her hands at STRS board meetings and say or do nothing?
As educator compensation becomes monetarily competitive with other professions, will America stay competitive and survive in the 21st century? Without education, there is no prosperity.This writer is a happy STRS retiree who wishes only to keep STRS, and my country, moving forward in providing a proper retirement for the most important profession: teaching.
RHJones, a SummitCTRA legislative committee member

Subject: Fwd: unhappy STRS retired person
Bob, I sent Ann Hanning an e-mail stating my opinion on the current changes being considered on our pension, especially the COLA. This was her reply.
Note: name withheld by me for privacy reasons .

From: Ann Hanning (
Subj: RE: unhappy STRS retired person
I’m sorry that you are an unhappy retiree. We continue to work with STRS & our Coalition partners to address the issues that you have raised.Unfortunately, the 13th check which many STRS retirees have never received will probably not return. The rising costs of HC for everyone continues to be addressed at all levels (local, state & national). We have yet to learn what impact or effect the national HC program will have on STRS & our retirees. As you know, the pension systems are not required to provide a health care program. However, it appears that members of the ORSC & other legislators are encouraging the systems to continue to offer it.
Your original pension benefit & any increases you have received since 1989 will not be affected by any proposed pension solvency plans or legislation. At this time, a decrease (from 3% – 2%) in the COLA has been proposed. As the 3% simple COLA is currently guaranteed for all 5 Ohio public pension systems, it is likely that any legislation will provide a uniform amount or percentage for all public retirees. Note: one system has proposed having a COLA based on the CPI, which was negative in the last national reports. Also, due to the CPI negative members Social security recipients had no COLA this year & SS is suggesting no COLA will be forthcoming in 2011.
There have been many discussions at STRS & among Coalition groups on the COLA. It has been suggested that only retirees 80 years & over continue to receive the 3%; others receive 0%. It has also been suggested that there be a flat COLA (ie $250) for everyone. Some have suggested that COLAs only be given on the 1st $20,000 of everyone’s pension.
Do you support any of these suggestions? If you have specific suggestions to address the concerns you’ve expressed, I’ll be happy to share them.
Ann Hanning

To:; Ann Hanning Cc:
Subject: unhappy STRS retired person
Cutting our COLA? Increasing our health care costs? Paying people to make bad investments? Rewarding those who were not good stewards of our funds? Ignoring the plight of retirees who are having to make do with less and less funds while costs continue to rise. If we cannot count on you to protect retirement benefits, to whom do we turn? Delaying the reduction of our COLA (which should not even be consideration for current retirees) would be a move that would not drastically impact their financial situation.
Since having to retire for medical reasons in 1989 I have had my pension benefits reduced by losing the 13th pay check, rising health care costs, and increase in health care premiums. Next I and many others STRS retired people are facing the same dilemma by having our benefits curtailed.
Has ORTA stood up for us? I have not read anything that tells me they are!
Name withheld for privacy reasons

Monday, April 26, 2010

Minutes: April CORE meeting

From CORE, April 26, 2010
Minutes of the April 15, 2010 CORE Meeting
President Dave Parshall called the April 15th meeting of the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators (CORE) to order at 12:10. As in the past, this meeting was held in the Sublett Room of the STRS Building in Columbus.
After President Dave’s welcome, Mary Ellen Angeletti moved to approve the minutes of the March meeting; Liz Ebbing seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by those in attendance.
Treasurer Herman Fisher told the members that we have ample funds. He also informed the group that we have some new members and that Ryan Holderman is updating the membership roll as the names are sent to him. The treasurer also explained that Dennis Leone’s returned money-gift will be used in the future toward the “welfare of retired teachers.”
A lively discussion about Dr. Leone and Tim Myers’ e-mail exchanges followed. Questions were asked about whether or not ethics violations and/or election interference occurred.
President Dave re-introduced Jim Stoll to the attendees. Jim thanked the group for its support and for the positive e-mails he’d received. He was appreciative of CORE and said the members had given him added inspiration to work and help retirees.
After expressing his thanks, Jim Stoll proceeded to explain that he’d electronically sent out information to 146,000 active teachers. (However, due to Spam filters only 57,000were delivered.) Stoll’s group sent out second and third messages to follow up… and a final message is in the works. (The cost to CORE is still under $2,000.)
Once more President Parshall addressed the future of CORE, claiming that after September we probably would not be having monthly meetings. Instead, we’d only meet when there were critical issues to be attended to. However, Parshall stressed that CORE members would still work with legislators about our main concern: “Do fairly. The weakest among us shouldn’t be penalized.”
As a follow-up comment Herman Fisher suggested that all of us – throughout the state – should be talking with our representatives.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:55 to enable retirees to head back upstairs and attend the afternoon session of the board meeting on the sixth floor.
Respectfully submitted,
Marie M. Fetters
CORE Secretary

Sunday, April 25, 2010

COREofOEA says 47 million dollars!

From John Curry, April 25, 2010
How much will this settlement cost the OEA? The class who sued (OEA retirees) says 47 million:
"The lack of action by OEA governance and by OEA rank and file leadership in this case is disturbing. To allow this case to move forward considering the Appeals court loss is a gross misuse of OEA dues dollars and appears to be a blank check for attorneys to drag out the case as long as possible. Now OEA has filed for a 'partial' Summary Judgment. Rather than try to read anything into that strategy, as a member of OEA you should read the documents if you care at all about how your organization is attacking employee benefits and how it has acted in an effort to win at any cost including losing its integrity. Just how much is the organization willing to lose? Right now the benefit damages are estimated at over $47,000,000."
Click here to go to the Legal Activities area and read all of the motions and related documents.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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