The Ohio Retired Teachers Association will be a model for accountability, sound judgment, effective communication and proactive pursuit of member benefits and services. ORTA will be recognized nationally for its performance on behalf of Ohio’s retired educators. The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), the Ohio legislature and other national, state and local organizations will seek ORTA’s advice and counsel.
PURPOSE (from the ORTA Bylaws, [revised 2017]):
ORTA’S mission 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.
Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus
What Is ORTA? (A short history lesson)
In 1920, when the Ohio General Assembly created the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), they had the foresight to guarantee that once established, the retirement benefit could not be reduced for the life of the recipient. There was no way that, in 1920, they could have anticipated what was going to happen to our nation’s economy in the ensuing years, so they made no provisions for increasing the retirement benefit as conditions changed.
Teachers who retired in the 1920s were very pleased with their retirement benefits, in spite of the fact they were in the $55 to $65 per month range. First of all, they had paid very little into the system and whatever they received was much more than their predecessors had received. During the decade of the 1930s, retired teachers receiving a retirement benefit from STRS were certainly much better off than the large numbers of unemployed among them. Then, in the decade of the 1940s, retired teachers began to hear unfamiliar words such as “inflation” and “consumer price index.” Suddenly, their small retirement benefits became even smaller as their buying power diminished.
Individual retired teachers began to approach legislators asking for help to increase retirement benefits to keep pace with inflation, with no success. Active teachers were organized and were successful in obtaining modest salary increases which in turn, increased their retirement benefits. Retired teachers soon learned they too had to get organized and provide a united front to negotiate with legislators and even the retirement system.
In 1947, several separate groups of retired teachers joined forces and formed the Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA) with the goal of representing the interests of retired teachers at the General Assembly and STRS. About the same time, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus organized the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) and Ohio joined California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to become the first affiliates of NRTA.
There are 5 regions that make up ORTA's structure, holding over 80 local county/area chapters. These regions are the Northwest, Southwest, Central, Northeast and Southeastern sections of the state. These regions are lead by "Regional Liaisons", who help provide leadership, direction and a voice for their counties as both a whole and individually. This structure was adopted in the fall of 2017, and is beginning to take shape in the early parts of 2018. Along with these changes, the office in Columbus, Ohio has re-staffed to allow for some better support and to take the new structure to it's highest potential. The office is now staffed with an office manager overseeing day to day operations, budgets and spending, along with a full-time administrative assistant who is in charge of memberships and payment processing, and a full-time publications and communications coordinator, who is in charge of the website, monthly newsletter and social media outlets. Among these positions. ORTA has also hired a new Executive Director who is committed to fulfilling his position with the work to accomplish the new structure and is ready to carry ORTA into a new era: to 'Serve all Ohio Retired Educators'.
Membership is open to any educator retired from the public schools, state and municipal colleges, and universities of Ohio; any educator retired in any other state but living in Ohio; any spouse who becomes a benefit recipient of State Teachers Retirement System (STRS); and any person in Ohio interested in education and the issues of retirees.
ORTA Dedication of Ohio Village Schoolhouse