ORTA's continued mission is advocating for YOU, the retired educator!
ORTA AND the STRS AUDIT FUNDRAISER
The time has come! The ORTA Board recently voted to serve as the fiscal agent for an effort to engage Edward Siedle to conduct a forensic audit of the STRS pension system. Edward ‘Ted’ Siedle (principal of Benchmark Financial Services) is a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attorney and globally recognized expert in pensions. His firm, Benchmark Financial Services, Inc., has conducted well over $1 trillion in reviews of pensions on behalf of pension plan sponsors and pension participants. To learn more about Mr. Siedle you can visit http://www.siedlewhistleblowerforensics.com/whistleblower-forensics-6.html.
This decision did not come easy. Throughout ORTA’s 73-year history of advocacy for the retired educators, ORTA has strived to ‘keep peace’ with STRS and avoid controversy. However, since the promised benefits to STRS retirees have been steadily reduced since 2015, and there is no planned return of these promised benefits, it is time for a review of what is taking place with our pension fund. STRS is in the best financial shape of the 5 public pension systems in Ohio, however, STRS retirees have gone several years without any promised increase in benefits. Some retirees have gone 8 years without an increase in retirement benefits! The loss of COLA, despite being promised by STRS and guaranteed in Ohio law at the time of retirement has no end in sight. When pressed for answers, STRS leadership simply say ‘STRS will only consider providing any COLA after the pension system has reached a funding level of 85%’. Keep in mind that in over 100 years of existence STRS has only been at funding level of 85% or above a handful of times and has not been at 85% or more in the past decade. At the October STRS meeting the paid financial consultant for STRS (Cheiron) indicated that STRS is not likely to reach the 85% funding threshold for many years.
Thus, ORTA has agreed to participate in the collection of donations from STRS members to pay the fees associated with this external and independent review of STRS. To collect these donations ORTA has established an account at our partner Education First Credit Union. All donations collected for this purpose will be deposited into the Forensic Audit Account. There are several ways that you can donate towards our goal of raising the $75,000 required for this forensic audit.
Ways you can donate:
Click below to donate NOW!
You can mail a check to ORTA at 250 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Suite 150, Worthington OH 43085
(please include donation remarks on checks "memo line")
Call our office and donate over the phone at 614.431.7002
Here are a few of the more important recent actions ORTA has taken:
September 2019 – ORTA participated in the NRTA lobbying event in Washington, D.C. where we provided information to the Ohio Congressional Delegation on three pieces of legislation directed at reducing medication costs for senior citizens.ORTA also lobbied several Ohio congressional members in an effort to gain support for the repeal/modification of WEP/GPO laws that negatively impact STRS retirees.
ORTA has been a consistent voice for the establishment of a ‘Pathway to COLA’. This Pathway to COLA would provide for establishment of benchmarks or conditions that would be necessary for the return to increases in retirement benefits.
ORTA participates at Healthcare Pension Advocacy for STRS (HPA) meetings and has done so since HPA was established. Efforts by this committee resulted in STRS holding premiums for Medicare at the current level through. Additionally, HPA convinced STRS to retain the $29.90 subsidy for Medicare recipients.
ORTA has been present at all meetings of the ORSC (Ohio Retirement Study Council) as this group of legislators meet to discuss legislation that impacts public pensions in Ohio.
ORTA has met with STRS Executives to work on COLA issues and concerns. These efforts continue as ORT is present at all STRS Board meetings and offer comments to STRS Board members during the public comments portion of each month’s meeting.
ORTA continues to work with STRS (through the HPA) on ‘health care policy development’. This will shape the direction of health care provided by STRS for years in the future.
ORTA has met with local leaders in each of the 5 regions of Ohio (Northwest, Southwest, Central,
Northeast ,and Southeast) to develop leadership and outreach to all areas of the state.
ORTA publishes a monthly newsletter that is emailed to all members with an email on file and posts these newsletters on line at the ORTA website.
In each newsletter legislative matters are discussed and or published, helping to keep our members informed of legislation that may impact their retirement.
ORTA has worked with the Ohio Delegation in Washington D.C. on legislative matters such as the Windfall Exclusion Provision (WEP) that penalizes public employee retirees. If fact, legislation has been introduced to rectify this unfair situation.
ORTA has met with Ohio legislators to convey what the loss of COLA has meant to the thousands of STRS beneficiaries. ORTA has also provided information on the impact of the loss of COLA to all legislators through emails and letters.
ORTA has worked with a grassroots group STRS Members Only Facebook group to advance the restoreourcola.com petition drive.
Did you know...
ORTA members Dean Dennis and Bob Buerkle have begun a lawsuit with STRS to fight to restore our COLA. The lawsuit was filed in the fall of 2019, and further details can be found here.
*ORTA has NOT taken legal action with the STRS for COLA restoration; this at the freewill of Mr. Dennis and Mr. Buerkle
A great way to make your voice heard is to sign a petition. These petitions are for both COLA, but one is for STRS to set their Investment Rate Assumption more in line with their actual 30 year funding period earnings, and the other is to apply pressure to restore the promised COLA.
Your voice is important!
Share any comments or stories about what advocacy means for you and we'll be happy to listen and get back with you on what we are doing.
Keep it social!
Are you on Facebook? If you're looking for an additional place to get the latest on the fight for COLA, pension advocacy and more, please join us in getting involved with the Facebook group page Ohio STRS Members Only Forum. In this special group, retirees have a great way to share comments, news and posts about our current retirement system and how to best advocate for our COLA and more. With over 9,000 educators, it's a constantly growing group. ORTA is active within this page, sharing all relevant information that promotes our advocacy mission.