The Word - 2011/02/28

 

 

The Word from CSEA

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of February 28, 2011

SURVEYS RE: BARGAINING ISSUES FORTHCOMING

Our current contract is up June 30. If Senate Bill 5 does not completely abolish it, collective bargaining will begin this spring. The Executive Committee is forming a Negotiating Team and preparing a survey seeking direction on issues that members want addressed at the bargaining table. Certainly the conversion to semesters will require much attention during negotiations, but we will be seeking your input on other issues as well.

Review the issues that confront you in your day-to-day work to do your job within your program/department. Consider the processes that don’t seem to support the effective and efficient completion of your professional work and the mission of the College. Your ideas will form the basis for the discussions that the Negotiating Team will engage in this spring.

Also, portions of the survey will ask whether you are willing to serve on a negotiations subcommittee that will address a particular issue - please consider doing so. These committees will likely be short-term committees active during spring quarter, and would be an excellent way to have your voice heard and provide valuable college service.

AT THE STATEHOUSE, THEY’ RE TALKING ABOUT YOU

If the talk at Broad & High is in any way accurate, you are paid too much, you don’t pay a big enough percentage of your health care, you don’t work hard enough, you gouge the taxpayers by working at a reduced rate Summer Quarter, you are as privileged as investment bankers, and you are unreasonable to expect agreed-upon guidelines for how you’ll be treated on the job.

That’s the substance of Senate Bill 5 and the apparent opinions of its supporters, who think collective bargaining (and not a Wall Street shell game) created the state’s current budgetary woes. And if you’re feeling a little defensive, it’s not surprising.

Public employees are being made the scapegoats for Ohio’s (and other states’) budgetary problems and looming deficits. We could debate the real reasons for the critical budget situations in many states. Most notably, we could note how the construction of complex financial instruments that risked investors’ money and enriched investment bankers sucked billions of dollars out of financial markets and tossed the national economy into a near-Depression; we could note how these criminal financial shenanigans looted both private and public pension plans of hundreds of millions of dollars, or how they threw the mortgage industry into a collapse that has deprived states and school districts of critical funds; we could note how only a handful of those responsible have been charged criminally for actions that, done by any middle- or working-class person, would have resulted in long jail terms.

Senate Bill 5 is being fast-tracked through the General Assembly for ideological reasons, not fiscal ones. What’s happening here and across the U.S. is a coordinated push to permanently lodge economic power in the hands of corporations and the wealthy. And if you think this is the language of class warfare, consider how the terms normally linked to the wealthy elite— “pampered...privileged...exorbitant”—are being used to describe faculty instructors making $43,000 a year and administrative assistants making $22,000 a year. This, at the same time the governor increases the $150,000+ salaries of his staff and cuts the pay for secretaries by several thousand dollars.

Senate Bill 5 is radical solution in search of a problem. It would make teachers subject to “merit pay” that would make your salary subject to whether your students studied for tests and whether your employer provided you with necessary resources to improve student learning. It would remove the opportunity for educators to collectively advocate for better classroom resources and improved teaching and learning conditions. It would make your job subject to the whim of any administrator rather than defined by a legally binding contract that ensures equal protection for every faculty member. It would allow school districts to layoff or terminate the most experienced teachers (under the guise of "merit") because of their higher salaries. It would take the improvements that we’ve seen at CSCC over the past 10 years and say, “That really wasn’t necessary.” CSEA doesn’t believe that.

Ohio's collective bargaining law has created a framework for problem-solving that has made strikes rare. Teacher, police officer, firefighter, and other public employee affiliates negotiate effectively to avoid disruption of services provided. A list of state senators representing Columbus State's four-county service district appears below. We urge you to contact them TODAY with your concerns about SB 5.

District 3 (Eastern Franklin County), Kevin Bacon, (614) 466-8064, SD03@senate.state.oh.us

District 10 (Madison County), Chris Widener, (614) 466-3780, SD10@senate.state.oh.us

District 15 (Central Franklin County), Charleta Taveras, (614) 466-5131, SD15@maild.senate.state.oh.us

District 26 (Union County), Karen Gillmor, (614) 466-8049, SD26@senate.state.oh.us

District 16 (Western Franklin County), Jim Hughes, (614) 466-5981, SD16@senate.state.oh.us

District 19 (Delaware County), Kris Jordan, (614) 466-8086, SD19@senate.state.oh.us

PROPOSED STRS CHANGES

CSEA is asking that you call or email your State Representative and State Senator about excessive changes being considered to the ways Ohio's public pensions are funded. By a 7-3 vote on January 27, the STRS Board voted to make significant changes to the plan it had previously approved in October. The drastic action was taken after Governor Kasich announced that he would not sign any legislation that increased the employer's portion of contributions to STRS or that failed to reduce the funding period to 30 years or less.

Prior to the January 27 meeting, the STRS Board was recommending that the employee contribution rate be increased by 0.5% per year for 5 years, resulting in an increase from 10% to 12.5% by 2015, and that beginning in 2016 the employer contribution rate be increased by 0.5% per year for 5 years, resulting in an increase from 14% to 16.5% by 2020. The new recommendation approved by the Board on January 27 is that only the employee portion be increased, from 10% to 13%, phased in over 3 years beginning in 2012, with the STRS Board being authorized to increase the employee portion to 14% if needed.

The Board's new plan also reduces the cost-of-living allowance (COLA) from 3% per year to 2% per year, and defers the first COLA for 5 years after retirement effective in 2012.

The Board's new plan changes the computation of a retiree's final average salary (FAS) from the average of the highest 3 years of earnings to the average of the highest 5 years of earnings, thus adding 2 more years of lower incomes to be used in the computation of FAS.

The Board is also eliminating the "enhanced benefit" for years taught above 30. Currently, an STRS retiree receives 2.2% of their FAS for each year taught up to 30 years (at which time they receive 66% of their FAS). The enhanced benefit was a percentage added to the 2.2% per year for years 31 and above, and was an incentive to keep experienced teachers in the classroom and contributing to STRS, rather than drawing from STRS. For example, someone retiring after 35 years received the 2.2% per year for a total of 77% of FAS, plus an enhanced benefit of 11.5% (per the enhanced benefit formula), for a total of 88.5% of FAS. The elimination of the enhanced benefit would mean this retiree receives just the 77% of FAS.

Finally, the Board is changing the retirement eligibility criteria for full benefits from 30 years of service at any age to 35 years of service at age 60. Retirements before the new eligibility requirements are met would be subject to a reduction in retirement benefits.

OEA does not support the new plan adopted by the STRS Board on January 27. The cuts are too deep and do not offer sufficient flexibility to teachers who are nearing the end of their careers. Furthermore, the calculations used to craft the latest proposal are based on financial figures that are more than six months old, and ignore the billions of dollars in investment earnings over the past six months as financial markets have begun to recover.

Please take the time to contact your state senator and representative. Tell them:

  1. To keep the enhanced benefit provision. It was determined several years ago that this provision is cost-neutral. The additional (enhanced) percentage of FAS earned by those teaching longer than 30 years is paid for by the fact that those individuals are contributing to STRS those additional years, rather than drawing a pension from STRS after 30 years.
  2. To reject the changes in retirement eligibility requirements. The plan adopted by the Board last October was reasonable, and allowed for one to retire after 35 years of service at any age, rather than reducing the benefit if one retired before age 60.
  3. To, ideally, enact the plan adopted by the STRS Board in October, 2010. That plan spread the burden of sacrifice among current employees, retirees, and employers, and brought the funding period down to 33.4 years, as measured during the worst economic recession in many years. Emphasize to your representative and senator that, as the economy recovers and STRS recoups the investment losses it incurred, the funding period for such a plan will in all likelihood meet the 30-year funding requirement.

We urge you to make your voice heard. Your retirement—when, how much, what benefits—will be determined by these STRS changes. Contact your state senators via the list provided in the previous article.

TAX INFORMATION RE: CSEA DUES

Of the total OEA/Uniserv/NEA dues from last year, members may deduct $593.25. On top of this, all $54 of local CSEA dues are deductible. Therefore members can deduct a total of $647.25 from their 2010 taxes. Note: this qualifies as a miscellaneous deduction (on Form 1040, Schedule A), the total of which must equal at least 2% of adjusted gross income in order to be deductible.

VOLUNTEER NEEDED FOR MASTER PLAN STEERING COMMITTEE

A faculty member is being sought to serve on the College's Master Plan Steering Committee. The work of this committee is expected to take 12-16 months, and produce recommendations regarding the future growth and development of the College. This would likely include analyzing the College's current use of its facilities, classrooms, laboratories, and office resources, and propose options for enhancing effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability; exploring the relationship between the College's two campuses and its sites, particularly the future role of the Dublin and Westerville sites in regards to the Delaware campus; developing a Land Acquisition Plan - identifying areas of interest near the downtown campus for future expansion; and developing a Land Use Plan - identifying future building sites and potential use of future buildings.

If you are interested in serving on this college committee, please contact Darrell Minor (x5310) as soon as possible.


The Word is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Darrell Minor, President/ x5310
Kevin James, Vice-President / x5008
Judy Anderson, Secretary / x5453
Phil MacLean, Treasurer / x5308
Ingrid Emch, Parliamentarian-elect / x5824

Gil Feiertag, Senior Association Representative, Career & Technical / x5861
Health, Dental and Veterinary Technology
Allied Health

Steve Abbott, Senior Association Representative, Arts & Sciences / x5096
Business

T.J. Duda / x5309
Construction Science
Automotive
Engineering Technology

Gilberto Serrano / x3863
Mathematics

Beth Barnett / x2593
Hospitality, Massage Therapy and Sports & Exercise Studies

Bill Cook / x5364
Communications

Mort Javadi / x5635
Physical Sciences

Jackie Miller / x2601
Nursing & Related Services

Mark Mitchell / x3612
Justice & Safety

Keith Sanders/ x5288
Humanities

Mike Schumacher / 5482
Social Sciences
Psychology

Cindy Evans / x2435
Human Services

Dr. Antoinette Perkins / x5754
Marketing & Graphic Communication
Computer Information Technology

Eric Neubauer / x5698
English

Amy Brubaker / x5068
Developmental Education
Modern Languages

Dr. Sue Longenbaker / x2430
Biological Sciences


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