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Below is the latest 279-R updates/information:
Wishing you a happy summer!
Elections have consequences that play out over years and affect all of us. We as seniors are the most reliable voters and we are trusted messengers. Our message was heard loud and clear by STRS Ohio. The three candidates that we endorsed and campaigned for have been elected to the STRS Board. You helped to make our voices heard.
When these three new members take office in September, our previously-endorsed Board members will have help representing our real interests as they pertain to our pension fund. Even though the changes that will be implemented will probably be gradual and will take some time, there is now a sense of a better representation of our interests in Columbus.
But we can’t become complacent! This is by no means a done deal---we will continue to remain vigilant and monitor what is going on at the meetings, as well as report to you, our members. STRS has heard us at the ballot box. Now we must stay in the fight to protect our pensions and benefits for all Ohio educators.
June Luncheon is Back!
Our Annual Scholarship luncheon is back, set for June 9, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. It will be held at the Cleveland Marriott East, 26300 Harvard Road in Warrensville Heights.
We will have the popular basket raffles again. All proceeds from the scholarship raffles support our Scholarship Fund at Cleveland State University.
There will also be a drawing for four early-bird winners who got their reservation forms and checks in to the 279-R office by Friday, May 20---their lunches will be complimentary!
Price for the luncheon is $40. I look forward to seeing you at this worthy (and fun!) fundraising event.
A Special Scholarship Fund Gift
One of our 279-R members, Lauretta Sinkosky, passed in January 2021. The 279-R Scholarship Committee recently received a check for $10,000, part of her estate that she left to the Scholarship Fund.
Our chapter is grateful for her generous gift, and for Ms. Sinkosky’s support of 279-R’s scholarship fund in her will. Even after her passing, her legacy will help future educators to pursue their dreams of teaching.
Donations to Scholarship Fund
Thank you to those who continue to donate to the scholarship fund. Collectively we are helping future educators realize their dreams of shaping our future leaders. Remember, all scholarship checks must be made out to: 279-R NEO AFT. On the memo line of the check, write Scholarship Fund.
If we missed listing your scholarship donation, please contact us at 216-482-2281. We are not in the office every day.
How to Contact Us
Our direct numbers are: Membership Information 216-482-2281; Pension Line (STRS or SERS) 216-482-2282; other calls 216-482-2280. If no one answers, please leave a message spelling your last name, and phone number. You will receive a call as soon as possible.
We encourage you to access our retiree link from the CTU website. The website address is listed under the letterhead of this newsletter. Please check it regularly.
Have a safe and wonderful summer!
Happy Father’s Day! Happy 4th of July!
STRS Ohio Report
STRS May 19 Board Meeting
Robert Walters and Dan MacDonald attended the May 19, 2022 STRS Ohio Board meeting, called to order at 9:00 a.m. All Board members were present in one form (present) or another (electronically, Steen).
After approval of the minutes, the Investment Department reported that the preliminary total fund return for April was a NEGATIVE 4.03%. The preliminary FY22 total fund return is estimated at 0.11%. Total investment assets ended April at $91.6 billion, lower by $3.2 billion in FY22. [The following statements are for your awareness. All these numbers are VIP. The market had a very rough month. STRS has an assumed rate of return for a fiscal year (FY) at 7%. The FY ends June 30. Presently we are estimated at 0.11%. Only May and June are left to reach 7%.]
The Board reviewed and approved the Statement of Investment Objectives and Policy and Statement of Fund Governance. The new asset allocations will now be the Investment Department’s goals.
The Board reviewed the semiannual broker evaluation and associated policies for the first half of FY23. They reviewed the Performance-Based Incentive Program for FY23. Two positions were eliminated for the incentives. There was a lot of discussion regarding the PBIs and also STRS’s compensation policy in general. The PBI Policy will be voted on during the June Board meeting.
Steen asked about April’s large purchase of Phillip Morris stock. The investment was a “defensive” purchase. Price asked about the chances of a recession. The response was, it is increasing and will be on the June agenda.
The Finance Department had outside consultant Cheiron review economic assumptions for the June 30, 2022 actuarial valuation. Charts were presented on STRS’s historical rate of return experiences, industry trends using 200 large retirement plans, regulatory changes, the Board’s risk preference and how it has changed since 1992 [currently 7%], plan dynamics. [Think contributions and normal costs plus interest on the unfunded liability. Cheiron still projects reaching fully funded in 8 to 16 years.] Basically, Cheiron recommends assumptions of a rate of return between 6.25% to 7.0%, inflation rate of 2.5% [yes, inflation is projected to fall], and payroll growth to continue at 3%. [This does not mean another COLA is in the pipe. It means STRS is going in the right direction.]
The Member Benefits Department did a presentation on pension benefit comparisons against other pension plans. Systems are all over the place with final salary averages, COLAs, health care coverage, contribution rates, benefit multiplier. Director Neville did comment on “Inflation Protection” and hopes to present STRS’s ideas at the Board’s November Planning and Education Meeting. [If you have the time, you should go to www.strsoh.org and download the Member Benefits slide presentation.]
The Executive Director reported on four areas. As of April 30, 2022, there are 400 fewer applications in for retirement than there were last year, a 23% decline. Hunt asked Neville to respond to Ohio State Representative Phil Plummer’s meeting questioning STRS on the pension paying $0.77 on each dollar contributed; 6% pay raise; low investment returns; and transparency. Neville had a response, basically pointing out the inaccuracies of the accusations. Fichtenbaum was the only Board member to push back on Neville’s responses.
Seven retirees and one active member, Julie Sellers, spoke during Public Participation. Sellers, one of the newly-elected Board members who will take office in September, shared that STRS had made no contact with her to this point in time. She asked for an informational packet, orientation dates, and a tour of the building. [Good start for Julie!]
After lunch, a presentation of the STRS Ohio Headquarters Building was presented. The original three-story building was built in 1958. The building was expanded in 1977. A third phase was added in 1988, and the last phase took place in 1998. Four potential solutions were presented: lease unused space; consolidate; relocate; maintain. Each option was discussed. After discussion, the Board will further explore the building’s future.
Routine Matters followed. Under old business, Price brought up the Rule of 92, a combination of years of service and age. The rule combines years of service and age to reach a retirement. The Board voted to hire outside consultant Cheiron to explore this and similar point-based retirement options.
The next Board meeting will be June 16, 2022.
Dan MacDonald & Robert Walters
Dan’s May 19th STRS Board Meeting
Public Participation Comments
Good morning, I am Dan MacDonald, an STRS retiree with 38 years of service, and I am also the Executive Director of Local 279-R, NEO AFT AFL-CIO retirees.
Last month, the FY2023 Budget was presented with a 3% merit-based raise, which, when questioned by the Board, basically is received by all STRS staff. Additionally, this year happens to have 27 paychecks, not the normal 26. Because of the 27th check, an additional $2.1 million appears to be added to the budget.
(continued from previous page)
To be more exact, “the 27th pay accounts for $2.1 million of the $2.6 million increase.” The majority of the STRS staff is SALARIED. Salary covers the salaried year, be it 26 or 27 checks. The 27th check should be overall cost neutral. Instead of dividing salary by 26, payroll divides by 27. Is this STRS Board really giving the staff an extra full paycheck which would include the three percent raise?
I would also point out that the STRS staff does get automatic pay raises. When was the last time a 3% raise was not issued? Ask these questions during public session. Elected Board members, go back to your districts and ask your district treasurer how a 27th check is determined for your district’s salaried employees. Appointed Board members, do some research. Board members, do not vote for this budget without a public airing of the $2.1 million added for the 27th check.
Last month I addressed an issue regarding an STRS retiree in a rehab facility, who now you should know, has paid $30,000 because she is not making progress and can’t be sent home. I mentioned the costs Medicare covers for rehab and its coverage for up to 100 days. I guess I was confusing.
Our STRS health plan is way better than just Medicare coverage. If progress is being made, the STRS plan has unlimited coverage, as many days as needed. So, the Health Committee should inquire who surpasses 100 days? AETNA rules on progress being made, asks for a summary of the benefits paid for retirees staying over 100 days. This is not a HIPAA violation; you are paying the bills and have a right to get a summary of services of the plan, not by name but by descriptive code.
Over 100 days of rehab is extremely rare because the goal is to get the patient home and rehab to be at the home. It is only the stuck patient, the one not making progress, who is usually single, without family who can’t go home because of no viable exit plan, who remains, and is paying from their life’s savings.
My point though, wasn’t the plan or Medicare, my point is to have the Benefit Department develop workshops for actives and retirees about the ins and outs of health plans, the strengths and weaknesses of options, and preparing for the future which could contain a possible financial catastrophe when the health plan doesn’t pay.
As always, actives need their benefits enhanced and retirees need a permanent COLA.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Dan for speaking for us with his pertinent, frank public participation comments at every STRS meeting, and thanks to both Dan and Rob for their in-person attendance and reports. You can attend online---register before the day of the meeting on the website, www.strsoh.org, and they will send you an email link. Or join Dan and Rob in Columbus on June 16!
Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. ---Franklin D. Roosevelt
Since I cannot say it better, I will defer first to the Alliance for Retired Americans AWARE Newsletter, May 2022.
“Elections have consequences that play out over years and affect all of us. It is a fact that in this election season, older Americans are the most reliable voters. You and I are trusted messengers… We built the economy, our communities, and the variety of social fabrics that are America. This convening of Ohio Alliance leadership is a review of what we are for. No matter our color, ethnicity, income, social status, or zip code, we are for policies that further our work for human equality and economic justice at work or in retirement.
“We are for national standards that protect the freedom to vote. We are for continued improvements and easy access to the ballot box to choose who will legislate and administer our government. We are for reapportionment and redistricting that conforms to the voter approved amendments to the Ohio constitution.
“We are for full credit for our work in the Social Security system and funding it into the future. We are for protection and stability for our earned retirement income, whether it be defined benefit pension, a 401K, personal savings, or Social Security.
“We are for continued affordable health care especially through Medicare. We are for affordable drugs and negotiating price for volume. We are for expansion and improvement of Medicaid, building up long term care and supports and the expansion of home and community-based care. We are for enforceable standards of care and infection control in nursing facilities.
“We are for PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act so our children and the next generation can work with dignity, wages that grow their standard of living, continuing to build an economy for all, and have the chance to retire.”
Now if we are working toward the goals just enunciated, then some actions on our part are necessary.
Call outgoing U.S. Senator Rob Portman (OH) on issues where his vote is crucial: 216- 522-7095 or 202-224-3353. We need federal legislation bottled up in the U.S. Senate to protect our democracy and our retirement security.
Another action you can take is writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper, such as the Plain Dealer, or e-mail your letter to cleveland.com.
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Below is a letter written by Jill Wagner, an award-winning teacher in the Independence Local Schools. She answers criticisms of public sector unions. Her letter was published in the Plain Dealer earlier this spring. Jill is also a Democratic precinct committee person in Independence, Ohio.
“It was disheartening to see the Op/Ed by Lauren Bowen with the Freedom Foundation because she markets in hateful falsehood. She is either misinformed or, worse, willing to say anything to please the anonymous billionaire funders from outside Ohio paying her. Bowen is wrong when she says union membership is down in the OCSEA (Ohio Civil Service Employees Association) because members are opting out.
“Prison guards are woefully overworked, understaffed, and underpaid and Lauren Bowen knows or should know it. But this is not the first painful statement she has made just this year. Recently, she attacked teachers like me, and the unions she’s trying to bust for her masters, for wanting to teach remotely during the pandemic to keep our students, families, communities and ourselves safe.
“Lauren Bowen actually wrote this: ‘Thanks to the arrogance of the Columbus Education Association boss hogs, at least educators will get a two-week reprieve while displaced students continue to deal with the real epidemic caused by two years’ worth of enforced distance learning—lower test scores, reduced motivation, depression, substance abuse and even suicide.’ Ms. Bowen, would you be willing to say that to one of the parents who lost their child to suicide? Shame on you.”
Jill Wagner, Independence, Ohio
As educators and Union members, we need to speak out for the values and ideals we stand for! Have a great summer and get ready to work in the fall elections for our candidates and issues.
AFT Disaster Relief Fund:
Thank you to 279-R members who donated to the AFT Disaster Relief Fund for Ukraine at the May in-person meeting. The AFT is coordinating with teachers’ unions in countries that border Ukraine, including Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Through AFT’s disaster relief fund, they are sending money for these unions’ Ukrainian relief efforts.
Every dollar raised goes straight to relief efforts, with no overhead fees. If you want to donate, you can mail a check to the CTU office made out to 279-R; write “AFT Ukraine” in the memo line. Or you can donate online at www.aft.org/diasater-relief-fund .
279-R Travel Plans for October 2022
We are planning a trip to the Middlefield area for a Brown Bag Treasure Hunt. We will visit five places to shop for merchandise, and to get a brown bag gift from each of the places.
We will enjoy an Amish wedding feast---I don’t have to say that this experience is not in line with losing weight! We will have breakfast on the bus, play games, and watch a movie.
The date is Thursday, October 6, 2022. The cost is $102 per person. At the May meeting, we had fliers for those interested, and almost 30 people expressed an interest in attending. I already collected a check for the trip.
Please call me, Linda Opaluch, 279-R Travel Coordinator, at 440-842-9524 if you have any questions or for more information.
Have a great summer!
The 279-R Newsletter will resume
in September 2022.
Protecting Your Money:
Prevent Phone Scams!
Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams---from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly, calling you by your first name, making small talk, and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads attempting to convince you to call them.
If you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy, say “No thanks.” And if they pressure you about giving up personal information like your credit card or Social Security number, it’s likely a scam. Hang up, and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
Everyone’s a potential target. Fraud isn’t limited to race, gender, ethnic background, age, education, or income. That said, some scams seem to concentrate on certain groups. Older people may be targeted more often because callers assume that they live alone, have a nest egg, or may be more polite to strangers.
Join the National Do Not Call List
Register your home and mobile phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov. This won’t stop all unsolicited calls, but it will stop most.
If your number is on the registry and you still get calls, they’re probably from scammers ignoring the law. Hang up, and report them at the donotcall.gov website.
Dealing with Robo-Calls
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s probably a robocall. Recorded messages trying to sell you something are generally illegal, unless you gave the company written permission to call you.
What should you do if you get a robocall?
Hang up! And don’t press 1 “to speak to a live person” or press another number to “take your number off the list.” If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
Ask your phone company if they charge for blocking phone numbers. Telemarketers change their caller ID information easily and often, so blocking a repeated number may not be worth paying a fee, since the number will likely change anyway.
If you get your phone service through the internet or cable, look into free services that screen and block robocalls. Try doing an online search for “block robocalls.”
Report your robocall experiences to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
How Scammers Hook You
Scammers use exaggerated or even fake prizes, products, or services as bait. Some may call you, but they also use mail, texts, or ads to get you to contact them.
A few examples of “offers” you might get are: travel packages; credit and loan offers; sham or exaggerated business and investment opportunities; charitable causes, especially recent disaster relief efforts; high-stakes foreign lotteries; extended car warranties; and so-called “free” trial offers.
Red Flags: Signs of a Scam
If you hear a line that sounds like these, HANG UP, and file a complaint with the FTC:
“You’ve been specially selected for this offer.”
“You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.”
“You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.”
“You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.”
“This investment is low-risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.”
“You have to make up your mind right away.”
“You trust me, right?”
“You don’t need to check out our company with anyone.”
“We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.”
The law says telemarketers must tell you if it’s a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they are selling before they make their sales pitch. If you don’t hear this, say “no thanks” and HANG UP.
Also, the law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time. Earlier or later callers are ignoring the law.
If you don’t want a business to call you again, say so. Then register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. If they call back, they’re breaking the law. Report them.
The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261.
[Source: U.S. Federal Trade Commission]
Betty Foy, sister of Constance Sealey, passed on May 3, 2022. Send condolences to Constance at 1795 Kapel Drive, Euclid, OH 44117.
Maija Zuby passed on May 3, 2022. Send online condolences to her family at www.sunsetfuneralandcemetery.com
Christell Aden passed on April 24, 2022. Send online condolences to her family at www.efboyd.com .
Rev. Robert Turner, father of Donita Rollins, passed on April 28, 2022. Send condolences to Donita at 4542 Whitehall Drive, South Euclid, OH 44124.
Theresa Ormandy 216-741-6764
Please call the Sunshine Committee when there is an illness or death in our 279-R family. However, please DO NOT CALL the committee with other questions, issues, or information.
Have a safe, enjoyable summer!
Page Last Updated: Jun 03, 2022 (07:00:00)