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  • Robin Rayfield

Time is a precious commodity for retired teachers! 

Good morning. My name is Robin Rayfield, and I am a STRS retiree and the Executive Director of ORTA. 

As I travel around the state meeting with STRS retirees, each local chapter of ORTA recognizes the passing of members of that chapter. I am amazed each time the names of people that have passed are read. My purpose for telling you this is that I want you to understand that time is a precious commodity for retired teachers. 

Teachers across Ohio have clearly demanded change at STRS.  Reform for an organization that has never had meaningful oversight and has no capacity to reform itself will face many obstacles on the road to reform. Despite electing a majority of board members committed to reforming STRS, the self interest of STRS management, highly paid investment staff, and consultants direct their efforts at impeding reform at STRS. These same people have even enlisted the help of high-ranking elected officials to thwart reforms at STRS. 

As I listened to the discussion about PBI yesterday and today, I heard something to the effect that ‘We owe our investment staff the PBI as they are undercompensated’ or ‘These people deserve to know what the PBI structure is before they begin the work’. I find it interesting that the employees of STRS are ‘deserving’ of what their PBI will be and that STRS investment staff should be paid PBI as they have earned it. I agree that people should be paid what they are promised. 

Unfortunately, STRS management is adamant that employees should be paid fairly, but retirees do not receive what they were promised. Using ‘they earned the bonus or bonus is really just part of their compensation’ falls flat when you are talking to someone whose guaranteed benefits have been reduced by 30%. Would it be fair to cut the PBI by 30% or more? 

At any rate, the concept of urgency is important to incorporate into the language at STRS. Last year it was imperative that bonuses be paid before the alternatives were valued. It had to be done, it must have been urgent. 

Now for the 3,500 retirees that will pass this year (because they were out of time) your lack of urgency failed them. Instead of putting the interests of the staff above the membership of the pension, for once put the members first. 

STRS Ohio Board members Rudy Fichtenbaum and Wade Steen are incurring legal fees, defending themselves against the lawsuit brought against them by A.G. Dave Yost. ORTA will use donations from the Pension Defense Fund to help them, if needed, pay their legal expenses. They have volunteered their time to support Ohio's teachers. Now it's time for us to show our support for them! Make a donation today to the ORTA Pension Defense Fund

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. Join ORTA!



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