Friday, December 20, 2019

Overheard at the coffee bar.....

"Dan's speech kinda' reminds me of the old your business or get off the pot. He so much hit the nail squarely on the head. We hear nothing of discussion on these matters at the board meeting, do we. Everything is just so cut and dried."
"The silence of the STRS Board member is deafening!"
"When I serve on a Board of any type I feel I have a responsibility to speak up for those I represent. I think the vast number of we STRS members feel the same. There are members on this STRS Board that talk shoulder to shoulder with us in the schools. Did they turn in their vocal cords when when went on the Board??? SPEAK lets hear your voice at Board meetings and stop looking as if you are being lead around the table."
"We will NEVER be able to recoup what they've stolen from us by cutting off our promised (IN WRITING) COLAs...while at the same time they are giving generous raises to STRS employees?! That's the way mob bosses work."

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Dan MacDonald to STRS Board: Happy Holidays, and what is your game plan?

Dan MacDonald's speech to STRS Board
December 19, 2019
Scenarios, we’ve gotten two versions since October. Director Nehf’s scenario is that STRS go to the state legislators and lobby for an increase in employer contribution which has been stagnant for decades while former Board Chair Robert Stein has put out the scenario that the red flowing from the State of Ohio budget directs the legislators to enact legislation to reduce employer compensation so active salaries might be enhanced. Which scenario is each Board member willing to speak to and pursue as we struggle to reach 100 percent funded?
Hi, happy holidays, I am Dan MacDonald a 38 year STRS retiree from CH-UH City Schools [Cleveland Heights-University Heights]. I am the Executive Director of Local 279-R, NEO AFT Retirees, 1,000 dues paying members strong.
You got to be kidding me. Mr. Nehf makes a suggestion and within weeks Mr. Stein destroys the very concept, meanwhile the Board members are SILENT. So truly, actives and retirees are working for STRS Ohio by their sacrifices through Board enforced policy. STRS OH continues to pay salary raises beating cost of living increases and allowing performance based incentives in the millions through Board policy and vote.
During last month’s Educational and Planning meeting I was informed that our general fund has a greater than 25% chance of being under 50% funded in the next ten years. STRS estimated that there is a 38% chance that the funding period will exceed 30 years within the next ten years.
With this in mind, Mr. Stein writes that the legislators might consider reducing employer compensation. He gives them a game plan. At least most state legislators would keep their remarks quiet if this is what is thought.
So Board what is your thinking? Anyone have a game plan? Anyone on this ship have any course corrections that won’t lead to being fully funded, with no COLA, with crappy retirement benefits for actives, with employer reduction in contributions, with continued growth of STRS locations throughout the county, I am thinking Chicago, plus continued merit-based STRS pay raises and PBI’s even if the market crashes which will fulfill the 25% chance of being under 50% funded?
As I said in my opening, happy holidays, start putting your ideas into public conversation at these Board meetings and tell us what your thoughts are on these scenarios. Silence is agreement with disaster for actives and retirees. If the state considers reducing employer contribution, what’s STRS’s plan to push back?
You all need to do more than sit quietly and talk behind closed doors. Once the state starts, it is too late to develop a game plan. Actives need a better benefit package at retirement and retirees need the return of COLA.

Bob Buerkle to STRS Board: Can any insurance company in the United States implement a negative change in their annuity payout once it has begun? The answer is NO

Bob Buerkle's speech to STRS Board
December 19, 2019
I think all workers who participate in any of the five Ohio Public Pension Plans, work hard and deserve to be justly compensated in retirement based on their contributions and their total number of service career years. Ohio taxpayers have provided the original funds to pay for these services which the general public deems as necessary for the public good, such as Police and Fire protection, Government workers and the Teachers and Support personnel who educate today's students.
The pension laws are codified and specific as to age, service credit, formulas and the annual Cost of Living Adjustment that each system is directed to provide. Once retired, all Defined Benefit Plan Pensioners under these five Ohio Systems should be treated fairly, equally and be assured that they will always receive the benefits they were promised at retirement.
When STRS Retirees see OPERS retirees continuing to receive the 3% simple COLA that they were promised, while our retirees have fallen behind them by 15% since 2013, you Board Members should understand why we are upset. To believe that secretaries, counselors, janitors or the managers here at STRS who belong to OPERS, deserve a better pension than teachers is absurd, ridiculous and totally unacceptable, especially since these same STRS Managers forced obnoxious new retirement rules and contribution levels on actives and changed the rules for STRS Retirees years after their careers were over.
Why didn't you change the rules for yourself? I think you should force yourselves to pay 40% more in contributions and lengthen your careers requirements by 5-9 years like you forced on teachers. When you retire, I think you should reject all COLA raises until you have lost the same amount that retired teachers have lost and continue to lose. Your decisions have created a schism, jealousy and animosity between STRS active teachers and retirees. You have ruined the intergenerational equity that STRS Teachers and Retirees had counted on for decades.
Generally, when most people say they are on a fixed income they are referring to being retired and on Social Security, which covers about 94% of the American Work Force. Sixty to eighty years ago, Ohio, including STRS, opted out of Social Security for government pension plans, telling these members they would be in a better plan. Do you not see the irony in this now, since STRS contributions are 28% of earnings while Social Security is funded with only 12.4% of earnings? And, Social Security also pays an annual COMPOUNDED COLA! Social Security also pays a non-working spouse up to 50% of what the retired wage earner receives, or a 150% pension benefit, while STRS reduces the teacher's pension, on average, by about 10% to protect their spouse.
STRS brings a whole new meaning for our STRS Retirees of what it means to be on a fixed income. It hasn't changed for years, were locked in where we were and there's no change in sight! NOW THAT IS TRULY FIXED INCOME.
One last question for you today. Yes or No, can any insurance company in the United States implement a negative change in their annuity payout once it has begun? The answer is NO.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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