The Word - 2011/05/02

 

 

The Word from CSEA

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of May 2, 2011

UPDATE ON CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

Contract negotiations began on April 7 and have produced tentative agreements on a number of existing contract articles. The feedback members provided through the issues survey in March has helped considerably in reaching these agreements, and your input is guiding the Bargaining Team as talks continue.

Negotiations on existing articles and new issues takes place each Thursday and Friday. Ground rules agreed to at the beginning of bargaining prohibit comment on specific details.

The Bargaining Team includes: Darrell Minor, Kevin James, Keith Sanders, T.J Duda, Ingrid Emch, Amy Brubaker, Judy Anderson, Gil Feiertag, and Steve Abbott.

STRS CHANGES WILL IMPACT YOU!

Ohio legislators have still not settled on a final reform package for Ohio's five public pension plans. In order to satisfy a state law that requires the pension plans to have a 30-year funding period, the STRS Ohio Board had initially proposed increasing the employee contributions by 2.5%, phased in over five years, followed by an increase in the employer contributions by 2.5%, phased in over the following five years. The STRS Board presented this plan in September, 2010, and included other changes in benefits. After the 2010 elections, the Board was informed that Gov. Kasich and Republican legislators would not support any plan that increased the employer portion of contributions, so the Board began working on revisions to its proposal.

The Board developed a plan that would increase the employee contribution by 3% phased in over three years (and with the possibility of an additional 1% increase in the fourth year as needed), but made significant additional cuts to benefits, including delaying any cost of living adjustments (COLA) for 5 years after retirement; requiring the Final Average Salary (FAS) to be calculated based on the five highest years of earnings, rather than the three highest years (thus lowering everyone's FAS by including two additional years of lower earnings in the calculation); and eliminating the enhanced benefit for more than 30 years of service. The Board adopted this proposal, which did not include any additional contributions by employers, at its January 27, 2011 meeting.

Then on March 15, Gov. Kasich released his two-year operating budget, which contained a proposal to decrease the employer contribution by 2%, while simultaneously increasing the employee contribution by 2%. The pension boards immediately noted that such a shift would do nothing to address the 30-year funding requirement, and in fact would actually hurt the funding period because the overall contributions would not have increased and also because employees who leave the plans before they are vested would be withdrawing a greater portion of the contributions from STRS.

The Ohio legislature then began trying to reconcile the Governor's budget proposal with the STRS plan and the 30-year funding requirement. On April 7, Senator Bill Seitz was replaced by Gov. Kasich as chairman of the Senate's Government Oversight and Reform Committee, which had been hearing testimony on the pension reform plans. Sen. Seitz was one of six Republicans who joined all ten Democrats in voting against SB 5, the anti-collective bargaining bill, and has been a vocal critic of the attacks on public-sector employees.

On April 28, the legislature wisely proposed removing the Governor's language that required an even split in pension contributions of 12% each from employers and employee from the budget bill, and instead proposed addressing the pension contributions in a separate bill focused on pension reform.

Some of the changes that have been proposed could result in employees retiring earlier than planned. Some faculty have indicated to us that it appears that they might be financially better off retiring before June 30, 2012 (when COLA changes may be implemented) than putting additional years into the system and retiring later. If you think these changes could impact your retirement decision, you may wish to consult with STRS advisors or your own financial advisor.

EARLY RETIREMENT INCENTIVE

In light of the draconian changes to the public pensions that are being discussed by the Ohio legislature, CSEA is reviewing the possibility of an Early Retirement Incentive (ERI) at Columbus State and would like your feedback. Such an ERI was last undertaken at the College about six years ago, and has resulted in considerable savings to the College since then. These savings have also been used by the College to satisfy "efficiencies" that are required by the Ohio Board of Regents.

If you are age 50 or older and would consider taking advantage of an ERI sometime over the next three years, and would be willing to volunteer some information regarding this with CSEA as we continue with contract negotiations, please contact a member of the Bargaining Team (listed previously) and provide them with the following three pieces of information: the number of years of service that you currently have in STRS and other public pension retirement systems; your date of birth; and your intended retirement date. Providing this information is strictly voluntary on your part, and would help us determine the feasibility of implementing an ERI during the next three years.

MEMBER MEETING COMING

Look for a notice early next week of a forthcoming CSEA member meeting. During the latter portion of the meeting, we expect to provide training for anyone interested in circulating petitions for the referendum to repeal SB 5, which strips higher education faculty of the right to participate in union activity.

SPRING FLING VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

CSEA will have a table at the annual Spring Fling on Wednesday, May 18, from 11:30 AM-1:30 PM, and we’ll need volunteers to staff the table. Our primary focus that day will be to collect signatures on the SB 5 referendum, which will require that you have been trained as a petition circulator. However, in conjunction with that effort, we’ll have another table registering people to vote (so those not already registered can sign the referendum petition).

If your teaching, office-hours, and meetings schedule allows, please sign up to volunteer by contacting either of your Senior Association Representatives Steve Abbott (x5096) or Gil Feiertag (x5861).

HEALTH INSURANCE SURVEY

The College Healthcare Committee reviewed several different options for the coming fiscal year, and narrowed down their choices to two options. The first option is to renew the current plan (keeping the same plan design) but with increased premiums ranging from 15% (Core plan, family coverage) to 46% (H.S.A. plan, single coverage). The second plan would include increased deductibles, increased copays, increased coinsurance limits, and increased inpatient hospital fees, but would result in smaller increases in premiums, ranging from 8.5% (Core plan, family coverage) to 34% (H.S.A. plan, single coverage).

This year, the College Healthcare Committee did not come to a consensus on which of the two plans to recommend, so CSEA is putting together a summary of the different plans, showing greater details about the changes in the plan designs and the increases in the premiums, and expect to send out a survey on the different plans in the coming days.


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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