Saturday, March 05, 2022

STRS Investment Employees' Compensation: the most recent data available (FY 2021-22)

From John Curry

March 5, 2022
Thanks to Thomas Curtis of the Ohio STRS Member Only Forum and his Freedom of Information request we now have the latest and most up-to-date information on the STRS Investment Staff, who received bonuses. It includes their salaries, bonuses and geographic pay amounts. This document was received by Tom in February and he would like for me to share it with you.
If you are wondering what "geo" (geographic) pay means it is extra pay that some of our investment associates receive for living and working in one of our four "satellite offices" in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and New York City.
Bonus pay and geo pay (if they receive it) are combined and found in the second column identified as "Total PBI Payment." The two columns need to be added together to get their TOTAL COMPENSATION. Geo pay is extra pay if you live near one of the STRS satellite real estate offices located in San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta or New York City.

John Curry provides us with a clear listing of OEA Staff Compensation; hold onto your seat if you're a dues-paying OEA member/active teacher!

From John Curry

March 5, 2022

OK....since some have asked, here is the "whole enchilada!" The data contained here is all available to you from the United States Department of Labor and was filed with them by the OEA on November 24, 2021. If any on this list "have a beef," they can take it up with the U.S. Department of Labor as this is what was given to them by OEA officials signed by Scott DiMauro and Mark Hill. In my opinion some of these employees really earn these bucks as they are hard workers.....especially the LRC's. This is public information.

Friday, March 04, 2022

Now you know: OEA Staff Compensation in 2021 (Median: $138.326)

From John Curry

March 4, 2022

This table below was constructed using the latest data available to anyone from the U.S. Department of Labor. Every labor organization has to fill an annual form "LM-2" which lists, among other facts, salary data and expense data that was paid to individual employees. Each thin vertical bar represents one employee.

If you wish to search this same file for the OEA filings go to the U.S. Department of Labor and search for LM-2 filings. The "File Number" for the OEA is (512-490). Enter it and then enter search. You will be flooded with around 100 pages of download.

To make your search easy, quickly scroll down to "Schedule 11 and 12". The numbers used for this chart were obtained by adding Column D ("Gross Salary Disbursement Before Any Deductions") + Column F ("Disbursements For Official Business").

This link will help you locate the LM-2 search page:

Thursday, March 03, 2022

STRS: Why are the cafeteria expenses so high if they aren't feeding very many people during the pandemic? Or are they delivering meals to all those employees who are working from home? You tell us!

From John Curry

March 3, 2022

Remember that cafeteria at STRS that hasn't been able to serve food to STRS stakeholders during Board meetings? That's the same cafe that has served a severely diminished Associate staff for quite a while now due to Covid, right? Well....I don't think that this is the location where STRS has been "cooking the books," but they've been cooking lots of something else in that closed (to visiting teachers) cafeteria. Thanks to we now have a record! Here is data on that cafe for the fiscal year 2020! I'd say they've been eating "pretty high off the hog," how 'bout you?

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Rudy breaks the code: now we KNOW why those investors' bonuses have been so HUGE all this time - thanks to the sneaky way they have been figured! When an investment LOSES, THEY WIN, BIG TIME!!!

The Benchmark Scam - How STRS Manipulates Its Benchmarks to Enhance Bonuses
By Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum
March 2, 2022
The purpose of this post is to show how, by manipulating its benchmark for alternative investments, STRS beats the benchmark for alternative investments, even though the benchmark is their actual performance. This outperformance as we will see affects not only alternative investments but the STRS total fund policy return. Manipulating this benchmark increases bonuses.
[ Important note from this blogger: 
On page 3 below, two highlighted numbers showed up as little black boxes. In both instances the number is .412 ]

Rudy explains The Benchmark Scam in terms many of us can understand (thanks, Rudy!)

From Rudy Fichtenbaum

March 3, 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

It's another "Mark's Myth" time

From John Curry

February 28, 202

This time, STRS Board member Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum takes Mark Hill to the woodshed once again! I wonder why this Secretary/Treasurer for the Ohio Education Association continues to carry water for STRS?

Sunday, February 27, 2022


Is that so, Mark Hill? That's not what the chart says.

From John Curry

February 27, 2022

Here's another example of our "crack investment team" and their main cheerleader, the Secy/Treasurer of the Ohio Education Mark Hill. On second our crack investment team really on crack?

STRS Board's discussion about potential benefit improvements during the February 17th STRS Board meeting

From Cindy Murphy

February 27, 2022
Listen to the Board's discussion about potential benefit improvements during the February 17th STRS Board meeting. Pay close attention to comments and questions from Board members Rudy Fichtenbaum and Wade Steen.
"At the February meeting of the State Teachers Retirement Board, actuarial consultant Cheiron provided further analysis of potential benefit improvements designed to benefit both active and retired members of the system. The board expressed interest in various options that include a one-time cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for eligible benefit recipients and a change to the current age and service eligibility requirements for active members, which would allow teachers with 35 years of service to retire at any age (eliminating the age 60 requirement set to be put in place in 2026). The board is also considering a reduction in the member contribution rate to 13% from 14%. Cheiron will complete its analysis of the financial impact of the proposed changes at the March board meeting now that its five-year experience review has concluded." - STRS Ohio
The discussion about benefit improvements begins at 48:00 and lasts 45 minutes.

Leon Knore to Active and Retired teachers: Please vote for Steven Foreman, Julie Sellers (Actives) and Elizabeth Jones (Retired)

From Leon Knore, Former CORE member in NE Ohio

Written by Kay Borchers, submitted by Leon Knore

February 27, 2022
Thank you to all of you who signed petitions and/or helped gather signatures for the STRS Board open positions. You will receive a ballot in late March or early April. PLEASE VOTE. Retirees are encouraged to vote for ELIZABETH JONES and actives to vote for STEVEN FOREMAN and JULIE SELLERS. These candidates support a change in retirement criteria for active teachers, restoration of a COLA for retirees, and other changes in favor of actives and retirees. 
Are you aware???
 --- Active teachers are contributing 14% (highest in the country) and get the least for their employee contribution than all public employees in the USA (10.9% with 3.1% paying unfunded liabilities of STRS). 
--- Totaling the past three years, the top 30 employees of STRS received over one million each (top was $1,956,736). 
--- At the August 19, 2021 board meeting, the current STRS Board authorized STRS staff salary increases (1.4%) and bonuses including the $6.7 million “Performance Based incentives”. Bonuses were awarded in 2017 even though a loss on Panda investments was over $525 million. 
-- Ohio law ORD3307.67 allows STRS to make decisions about COLA. STRS Board members approved a reduction then discontinuation of COLA for retirees since 2017. Actives must wait five years after retirement if a COLA is approved. 
-- COLA 2022 for retirees – STRS Ohio (0%), OPERS (3%), SERS (2.5%), Soc.Sec. (5.9%), OP&F (3%), HPRS (3%). 
--- STRS Ohio has offices in California, Georgia, Illinois, and New York (not true of other teacher retirement systems). 
--- STRS Board and staff member travel was paid in September 2019 and November 2019 (over $238,000) for trips to England, Turkey, China, and Japan. The STRS credit card was used extensively in Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale. 
--- STRS has 530 employees – average compensation is $125,378. 
--- For 2019 – STRS had 65 people making over $200,000 a year. In adjoining states – Michigan has only 5 officers making over $200,000 a year. Indiana and Kentucky have only 2. 
-- STRS Ohio policy explicitly states investment staff compensation 20% higher than other pensions and Wall Street. 
       HRS Policy#4.150 This involves 94 STRS employees. 
--STRS bought a Dallas office building in 2019 for $180 million. In 2020 it was worth only $112 million. 
--STRS does not rent part of the building for other users. Other retirement systems rent part of their building for income. 
--Benchmark Financial completed a forensic audit of STRS Ohio with $75,000 contributed by several sources. 
   *STRS has a transparency problem. For example – with regards to fees and expenses—costs of alternative investments have been under reported by about $2.75 million per day or two times the amount of paying a COLA to retirees. Under reporting means that STRS has about a loss of $2 billion over a five-year period. STRS pays fees to Wall Street money managers for not investing money (committed capital). STRS paid nearly $143,000,000 in fees for money not invested. 
----The State of Ohio Auditor has done a preliminary investigation and has stated “The information obtained to date supports a reasonable basis for conducting a special audit.” A special audit has been initiated of STRS. 
--The Ohio Retirement Study Council has broken the law by not performing an audit on STRS every ten years. It has been over fifteen years. Suggestions were not followed by STRS from the 2006 audit by ORSC. 
Information from the STRS Ohio Benefits site 
-- Life insurance – Full time - $50,000 minimum up to 2x base salary – STRS pays full premium 
   Short-term/Long-term disability – 60% of base salary up to $5000 monthly maximum – STRS pays full premium 
--Educational Assistance – Full time – 100% tuition up to $7500 per year for undergraduate and graduate students with a lifetime   maximum of $42,000. Part time – 100% up to $3,750 per year with lifetime maximum of $21,000. 
--OPERS – Associate contribution: 10% STRS Ohio contribution: 14% 
--Health Insurance Deductible Plan -- Full time -- Optional: POS or HDHP plan 
    POS Active - $37.41/pay – single - $112.24/pay – family POS Passive - $48.63/pay single- $145.91/pay family 
       STRS Ohio pays remainder of premium HDHP - $28.91/pay-single - $86.72/pay – family 
--Dental Insurance – Optional: STRS Ohio pays full premium for both full time and part time employees 
--Vision Insurance – Optional: associate pays full premium $3.51/pay – single $9.74 per pay – family 
--Free parking, $10 monthly membership in fitness center, on-site child care at a weekly rate, cafeteria 
   Bellwether Education Partners released a study in August 31, 2021 titled “Teacher Retirement Systems: A Ranking of the States”. Ohio received a grade of 57% with four F grades and one C. ;
   In a January 14 OEA Legislative Watch article, the writer states that retired teachers need and deserve cost-of-living adjustments. The writer also stated that the STRS Board may also consider changes to benefit active teachers such as eliminating the age 60 requirement or decreased employee contribution. The question is how to pay for these changes. Another statement by the writer is that shoring up the funding of STRS has taken shared sacrifice. 
   Where is the sacrifice to STRS employees? They received 1.4% wage increases last year. The August 19, 2021 performance-based investment bonuses were based on their own benchmarks and totaled over $6.7 million. The bonuses were awarded in 2017 even after the $525 million loss from the Panda bankruptcy (not reported to STRS stakeholders but by media - at least three years after). The regional office directors have exorbitant bonuses. Why should they receive additional bonuses because they choose to live outside Ohio? Why does STRS even maintain regional offices outside Ohio? Why were our STRS dollars used to pay for trips to China, India, England, Turkey, and Japan? Why was the STRS credit card used extensively in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale? Why hasn’t the Ohio Retirement Study Council done their independent audit (required every ten years but has been over fifteen years)? 
   Where is the sacrifice for STRS Board members? Through the Freedom of Information Act and/or subpoenas, ORTA (Ohio Retired Teachers Association) has collected some data from STRS. They also are awaiting other requested data that STRS has denied them. Released information shows reimbursement for travel to Zurich, London, Milan, etc., and more than one entry for meals nearing a cost of $300.00. There are also numerous trips to New York City, Chicago, Boston, Phoenix, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and the list goes on and on. 
   Sacrifice to an active is extending the number of years needed to teach before retirement, adding time needed to pay off student loans, or delaying major purchases, or not being able to save money for the future, or struggling to stay within a budget with inflation driving up the cost of necessary items. Actives in Ohio are paying 14% of their salary toward STRS – the highest rate in this country. After they retire, they will not receive a COLA for several years and the 14% they contributed will decrease in power to 10.1% because STRS is using some of their funds contributed to pay down unfunded liabilities. 
   Sacrifice to a retiree without the promised COLA is: trying to work another job to pay for basic necessities, turning down the thermostat by one or two degrees and closing off some rooms to lower the gas and/or electric bill, patching the house roof for three years and then replacing it only to find that with inflation the cost is now $2000 higher, repairing the over ten-year-old car with 100,000 plus miles instead of being able to replace it, paying more for medical insurance and expenses but decreasing visits to the doctor and not pursuing recommended health/wellness procedures, and implementing other cost-cutting measures. 
    In early February, Plan Design Levers Results were released by STRS. Several options are listed. However, none of the options list the reduction in expenses by the STRS staff, a wage freeze for current STRS employees, a reduction in bonuses, closing regional offices, curtailing travel expenses, and the list goes on and on. There are startling numbers on the website that support a need to examine the spending at STRS Ohio. 
Please share the above information with other actives and retirees. 
If current STRS Board members are voted back in, these spending practices will continue. 
This is your retiree and actives $ contributions. This is why we need a change in STRS Board members. 
Actives – Please vote for Steven Foreman and Julie Sellers. 
Retirees – Please vote for Elizabeth Jones.

Gary Rusk provides us with a COLA chart and Bob Buerkle gives us an explanation using bowling pins! Way to go, Gary and Bob!


From Bob Buerkle
February 26, 2022
The chart prepared by Gary Rusk is correct. Great job Gary. If I can explain the first 4 years I think you will grasp the additive process of the "Simple COLA" structure that STRS uses and you will understand Gary Rusk's entire chart. 
Beginning in 1971, when STRS began paying the first COLA, and ever since, STRS has never paid a "Compounded COLA." 
Now, think of the 10 pins set up in a bowling alley. The #1 pin closest to you is the first year's COLA. In year two, there are two pins in row #2, right behind the #1 pin. One of those two pins represents the first COLA you received because you get to continue to receive all COLAs granted from previous years. The other pin is the new COLA that you received in year #2. 
Each additional year, when you receive a new COLA, your pension base is increased by the value of one more COLA. When you receive COLA #4 you will have received the value of 10 COLAs, just like the 10 pins on the bowling alley. 
Also, all future COLAs that you receive will always be based on your original pension base. If you began retirement with a $50,000 pension then a 2% COLA would add $1000 to your base, and a future COLA of only 1% would only add $500 to your base, while a 3% COLA would add $1500 to your base. 
Looking at Gary's chart again, at 20 years of 2% COLAs worth $1000, your original pension base would have increased by $20,000, rising from $50,000 to $70,000, while your total additional COLA income over the 20 years would have been $210,000. (210 COLAs x $1000 = $210,000)
Think of pins 1, 3, 6 and 10 as the new COLAs granted over a four year period while pins 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 represent the income from the COLAs previously granted, while pins 1, 3, 6, and 10 are the COLAs that increased your pension base over the 4 year period displayed.

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