History of ORTA
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'.
ORTA's continued mission is to advocate for Ohio's active and retired educators.
ORTA is a model for sound judgment, effective communication, and proactive pursuit of member benefits and services.
ORTA demands accountability from the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio - and a strong pension for Ohio's educators for decades to come.
ORTA provides advice and counsel to STRS Ohio and the Ohio legislature.
ORTA works with national, state and local organizations to provide a better environment, strong pensions and useful resources for teachers at every level.
ORTA encourages individuals to improve the social and economic changes and issues relevant to their retirement.