To: OAPSE Members
From: Executive Director Joe Rugola
Re: Summer Update
Date: July 22, 2021
I hope this finds you well and enjoying a summer that feels a little more “normal” than what we experienced last year. July is typically a quiet time for most OAPSE members, but that doesn’t mean your union is taking time off from representing you – in your workplace, in your community, at the Statehouse and even in Congress.
I want to give you an update on some of the priorities your OAPSE leaders and staff is working on and how they will impact you now and in the future.
Repeal of Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
OAPSE and our International union are putting on a full-court press to convince Congress to repeal the GPO and the WEP, both of which are unfair and penalize public sector employees when they retire.
I provided testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, and you can read that here. I focus on the GPO and tell the stories of OAPSE members who – because of the GPO – will lose Social Security benefits they should receive when they retire after decades of public service. This paragraph sums up the broad situation for OAPSE members:
The GPO hits OAPSE members particularly hard because it disproportionately impacts low-wage workers, particularly women. About 80 percent of public pensioners affected by the GPO are women. Most of these women began their careers expecting to retire with both a public pension and a Social Security spousal benefit. It’s a shock when they realize that they will not receive a much-needed portion of their expected retirement income. Many are forced to make extreme choices because of the loss of income. They are already existing on shoestring budgets, having been low-wage earners. The GPO cuts are demoralizing, as evidenced by the individual examples included in this testimony.
OAPSE leaders Barb Ward, Bev Payne, Carol Harper, Lois Carson and Sheila Dawkins-Flinn agreed to let us tell their stories and just how much the GPO impacts everything from delaying their retirements to considering selling their homes and moving in with family to save money. Four of these long-time school employees are in their 70s and four are still working because they simply cannot afford to leave work. The fifth – Carol Harper – had to retire because of a severe back pain. But now, Carol says she will have to sub just to pay her bills and help raise the grandchildren who live with her.
Our hope is that by providing personal stories to Congress, they will see the devastating impact the GPO has on our members and will repeal it and the WEP.
Thousands of OAPSE members are impacted by the GPO and the WEP, and if you are one of them, we want to hear from you so we can tell your story and show Congress just how widespread this problem is.
You can email Kathy Malone at [email protected] with your information so our communications team can get in touch and get the details of your situation. Thank you in advance for helping us tell these stories.
And look for more information on direct action in the coming months.
Now More Than Ever, I’m Sticking With My Union!
As an OAPSE member, you have seen the value of your union over the past few years. We have detailed our success during the pandemic in keeping our members employed, continuing your pay and benefits and ensuring health and safety protocols and job security.
We are in negotiations in hundreds of jurisdictions across the state to bargain for improved contract language, wage increases, and guarantees regarding privatization and discipline, and a host of other issues that affect you at work.
To put it more broadly, OAPSE has been fighting for you. And we are going to keep right on fighting to ensure fairness and justice for every single member.
Your support for your union is critical as we wage these battles on your behalf. It is the solidarity of 34,000 members that gives us the clout and the power to make a difference and to see justice done.
You can show your support on August 30 during our Now More Than Ever, I’m Sticking With My Union! event and contest.
We will be sending local presidents new lapel stickers and bumper stickers. On August 30, send us your photos and videos of you with your sticker and you will be entered in our contest for prizes. And we will post you on our social media for members across the state to see.
We will accept videos and photos August 30-September 1. Just email them to [email protected] to be entered into a drawing for prizes including cash, an overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus and more great prizes. Every photo or video will be counted as an entry. Names will be drawn at the OAPSE Executive Board Meeting on September 11.
We will send details about this to local leadership in the mail. But watch our Facebook page for more information.
I’m really looking forward to seeing all the members who are proud of our union and the work we do!
OAPSE Free College for Members and Your Families
The OAPSE Higher Education Plan (HEP) continues to grow, and thousands of members and their families have taken advantage of free college.
Now, in addition to degrees through Eastern Gateway Community College and Central State University, you can get your degree at Franklin University.
For all the updates to HEP, go to www.oapseeducation.org or call 888-590-9009.
HEP is just one of the members-only benefits we are proud to offer. Make sure to check it out before the fall enrollment deadline of August 16.
OAPSE Making a Difference (OMAD)
Our union is proud to provide food assistance to students around Ohio through our OAPSE Making a Difference (OMAD) program.
Since 2014, we have assisted hungry students in Columbus City Schools, Fairland Local Schools, East Cleveland City Schools, Lima City Schools, Zanesville City Schools and Canton City Schools. Unfortunately, we were unable to have an OMAD project in 2020 because of the pandemic.
But we’re back! This year, OMAD will be assisting students in the Manchester Adams School District, where employees are represented by OAPSE Local 343. Manchester is one of the poorest districts in the state. (Adams County has the highest unemployment rate in Ohio and even more jobs are on the way out because of the power plant closures). On September 9, local, district and state OAPSE leaders will join the school district to distribute bags of snacks and meals to elementary students and food vouchers for a local restaurant to middle school and high school kids.
We need your help to make this happen. Since 2014, members and staff have donated thousands of dollars to make this program possible. And we are asking for your help again. If you have already donated, thank you! If not, you can still send your personal, local or district check to OMAD, Inc. 6805 Oak Creek Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43229. Every dollar is tax deductible and goes directly to feeding hungry students in districts where OAPSE has members.
I know OMAD Chair Sandy Wheeler joins me in thanking you for your past support of OMAD and your generous donation to this year’s project at Manchester.
We will keep you updated about all the topics detailed here and others as they come along. As always, please stay in touch with your field representative and regional director about any issues and questions.
Stay safe, stay well, and God Bless.