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Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association

Fighting for Ohio's teachers since 1947!

ORTA advocates for the pensions and benefits of Ohio's active and retired educators; demands accountability from the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio; and lobbies Ohio's legislators to provide a strong and sustainable retirement system for all Ohio educators, Pre-K through higher education. We rely on membership dues to continue our work.

ORTA Chapter of the Month

Ashland County is the home of Mohican State Park and the Ashland County Retired Teachers Association. ACRTA promotes the well-being of its retired educators by providing educational and social opportunities for its members, disseminating information to its membership and encouraging proactive community service. 

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ORTA advocates for the pensions and benefits of Ohio's educators, demands accountability from STRS Ohio, and lobbies Ohio's legislators to provide a strong and sustainable retirement system. We rely on membership dues to continue our work.

 

 

The Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association (ORTA) is warning the press to closely follow what is happening at the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). ORTA is issuing a “truth to power” warning.

 

During the past two STRS elections, ORTA’s reform-minded candidates, who advocate for transparency in investments and safer investment practices, have been resoundingly elected by our members. However, after each of these crucial elections, the STRS staff, in a concerning move, has involved Governor DeWine in an apparent attempt to disrupt the will of the voting members. In the most recent instance, a 14-page 'anonymous' document was delivered to the governor’s office and subsequently to Ohio Attorney General Yost (AG). The focus of this letter was STRS board members Steen and Fichtenbaum. Shockingly, without consulting the accused board members, the AG filed a suit against them based on unverified charges.

 

ORTA notes that both of these board members challenged the STRS Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) Benchmarks, which are used to award large and controversial bonuses. Steen revealed that the STRS Benchmarks were based on the investment staff’s own performance, yet bonuses were awarded. Fichtenbaum wants PBI benchmarks to be clear and relevant to what STRS projects to be their annual earnings assumption.

 

Are Board Members Steen and Fichtenbaum being set up? The Ohio AG has charged Steen and Fichtenbaum for not performing their fiduciary duties. ORTA views this quite differently; we think setting proper benchmarks is acting responsibly. STRS staff members must serve STRS members as fiduciaries, too. Receiving performance bonuses under opaque benchmarks merits the AG’s attention.

 

Can Steen and Fichtenbaum receive a fair hearing? Under Ohio Code 109.98, the AG can charge board members, but under Ohio Code 3307.13, the Ohio Attorney General is the STRS legal advisor. How can you receive fair legal advice from the AG office when it sues you?

 

Was this happenstance? In 2006, in an independent audit required by Ohio law, the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC), an oversight committee, was warned of a grave concern. The independent audit noted that Ohio Codes 190.98 and 3307.13 were in direct conflict. STRS management was warned this needed to be addressed. Nothing was done by the ORSC, and nothing was done by STRS management.

 

Here we are 18 years later, and two board members are trying to fix our pension system. They are up against the will of the STRS staff who are trying to protect their investment practices and have solicited the support of the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office. And Ohio law is stacked against them. Please follow this abuse of power closely. 

ORTA is issuing a “truth to power” warning
Pepperspectives & STRS Ohio

David Pepper has published three videos within the past year about STRS Ohio. Pepper talks about Governor DeWine's removal of Wade Steen from the STRS Ohio Board in May 2023, DeWine's subsequent appointment of a second repacement for Steen, and the Ohio Attorney General's recent lawsuit against Board members Rudy Fichtenbaum and Wade Steen.

The Retiree View of Ohio's Pension Drama_David Pepper_May 23, 2024

Retiree View of Ohio's Pension Drama
David Pepper
May 23, 2024

Pension Election Denial, Deja Vu_David Pepper_May 15, 2024

Pension Election Denial, Deja Vu
David Pepper
May 15, 2024

When there's smoke_David Pepper_July 1, 2023

When there's smoke...
David Pepper
Jul 1, 2023

Educators Professional Liability Insurance

 

ORTA is excited to introduce a new benefit to protect our active teachers.

 

Protect your reputation and your career today with professional liability coverage.

Become a member of ORTA and qualify for the new Educators Professional Liability Policy provided through our trusted benefits partner, AMBA.

Explore coverages and get started.

Visit AMBA Benefits and apply online today!

AMBA
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Ohio's teachers are under attack.
Again!

ORTA’s Pension Defense Fund was established in May 2023 to assist Wade Steen in his legal battle with Governor DeWine to retain his voice for reforms at STRS. 

 

Now the governor is calling on Attorney General Yost to ‘investigate’ the hostile takeover of the STRS board. The A.G. is turning his sights on the very people the membership has elected to force transparency on issues like:

 

  • Investment strategies that have failed the members but enriched the investment staff, their friends on Wall St., and the politicians in Ohio.

  • Investment fees and costs that are considered ‘private documents.’

  • The relationship between STRS’ high priced outside lobbyists and the makeup of the STRS board of trustees.

 

STRS Ohio Board members Wade Steen and Rudy Fichtenbaum are incurring legal fees as they defend themselves against the Ohio Attorney General's lawsuit. 

Your continued support of ORTA’s Pension Defense Fund is essential to ORTA’s efforts to reform STRS and build a culture at STRS that values its members over the highly paid staff at STRS. Please consider a donation.


Please donate today to help support our democratically elected reformers and ensure their ability to bring about real change at STRS.

Every dollar will be critical in this fight!

AMBA Webinars 2024

ORTA has partnered with AMBA to offer a series of short webinars about important topics like long term care, Medicare, medical transportation, and more. The talks are educational and informative. Retirees often tell us that they are thankful for the overview and knowledge they gain. Join us for the next one, and invite a friend! 

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ORTA Position on the Election of STRS Ohio Board Candidates and Pension Investments

The mission of ORTA is to monitor, advocate for, and protect the pensions and benefits of its members. The Association shall encourage individuals to improve the social and economic changes and issues relevant to their retirement.

 

ORTA will endorse STRS Ohio Board candidates who actively advocate for transparency of investments and business practices for the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio Pension System. Transparency of Investment practices shall not conflict with Ohio Revised Code 3307.15. In particular, Section 3307.15. (e), states, “Any statement of financial position distributed by the board shall include the fair value, as of the statement date, of all investments held by the board under this section.”

 

ORTA believes that once elected, Board members serving as our fiduciaries should adopt a prudent investor approach and avoid investments where the investment’s fair value cannot be independently determined. ORTA supports Board members and STRS management in exploring investments and investment strategies that might bring additional revenues into the pension plan to restore, maintain, or enhance member benefits. ORTA encourages the Board to predetermine a reasonable dollar allocation while vetting such investments and investment strategies to avoid jeopardizing the fiscal integrity of the pension system.

 

Approved by ORTA Executive Council 5/21/2024

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