To: OAPSE Members
From: Executive Director Joe Rugola
Re: Updates on OAPSE Priorities
Date: June 2, 2021
Greetings, OAPSE sisters and brothers. I hope this finds you well as we wind down the 2020-2021 school year and you head into the summer season. And what a year it has been!
Since March 2020, we have been through a series of events unlike any we have ever known. From the shutdown of school buildings to the closing of libraries, community colleges, boards of developmental disabilities and Head Start agencies to the hybrid learning, partial and complete re-openings to the mask mandates which have been in place for a year but are officially lifted for vaccinated people today – our circumstances seemed like they were changing every few days.
But our commitment to OAPSE members never wavered. We adjusted our focus and priorities based on your needs. And we never stopped fighting for you, your job security, your wages and benefits and your health and safety. And we won those fights!
Included in this email are a few updates of interest to our members across Ohio. Take a look and be assured that we will stay on top of important issues that impact you and your family at work and in your communities.
Have a safe and healthy summer. I look forward to seeing you at district meetings in the fall.
Social Security Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision
For more than 30 years, OAPSE has been engaged in a fight to repeal the Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Both of these laws penalize OAPSE members who have worked in our schools, county boards of developmental disabilities, libraries and community colleges by reducing social security benefits when they retire.
In the case of the GPO, the overwhelming majority of public employees affected are women, who often see their Social Security survivor benefit drastically reduced or even eliminated. For example, a school employee who is entitled to a SERS pension of $1,500 per month and a survivor benefit of $1,800 per month, the Social Security payment would be reduced to just $800. Many public employees lose their entire Social Security benefit as a result of the GPO.
For public employees who worked in the private sector as well and are entitled to a Social Security benefit as a result of that work, the WEP reduces the Social Security payment by as much as 50 percent.
OAPSE has led the fight to repeal the Offset and Windfall provisions here in Ohio and in Washington, DC, and I have testified in front of Congress on several occasions.
While both laws are unfair, the Offset is especially cruel to women who have spent many years working in the public schools or our other jurisdictions. The reductions in Social Security survivor benefits often pushes those women to or below the poverty line, or forces our members to work many years after they would have retired.
You can be certain that the union will continue to wage this battle no matter how long it takes to right this wrong.
Family Fun Days
It’s that time again! And back by popular demand after a year’s hiatus are our Family Fun Days deals for members only. OAPSE members-only benefits are available for visits to Ohio’s amusement parks, zoos and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI). Take a look at the video below for the places you can get discounts. For details, click here and enter your member number and last name. Go to My Benefits and then Family Fun Days to see how to access the members-only benefits.
Check back throughout the summer as providers are still working through their COVID protocols and reassessing how to offer benefits safely. And have fun!
OAPSE Making a Difference at Manchester Adams Local Schools
OAPSE members will have the opportunity to assist students at Manchester Adams Local Schools as part of our OAPSE Making a Difference (OMAD) program. OAPSE Local 343 represents the employees in the school district.
As we always do for our OMAD projects, we are asking for donations to make it possible to provide meals and snacks for the 1,000 students in grades pre-K through 12.
We are again working with Champion Foods to put together tote bags of meals and snacks. The local union will stuff the tote bags for students in elementary school. The middle school and high school students will receive certificates/vouchers for food from a local provider.
On Thursday, September 9, the members of Local 343 will be joined by Southwest District officers and OAPSE state officers to distribute the bags and vouchers directly to the students.
“We are so excited to partner with the members of Local 343 to feed hungry students. That has been our mission since we founded OMAD in 2014. We really count on your donations to help make our OMAD projects possible, and we thank you in advance for whatever you can do as a member, a local or a district,” said Sandy Wheeler, OAPSE state secretary and president of the OMAD foundation.
Donations are tax deductible. You can send your donation to the OAPSE State Office, 6805 Oak Creek Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43229. Just mark your envelope Attention: OMAD.
Now More Than Ever, We’re Sticking with our Union!
OAPSE members know it always pays to have a union – and that’s especially true during unpredictable times like those we have experienced over the past 15 months.
Even during the worst economic crisis in decades, the closing of schools and the curtailing of important public services provided by OAPSE members at libraries, childcare and Head Start facilities, community colleges and help for the developmentally disabled, our union kept working on behalf of the 34,000 workers we represent.
We partnered with state and local government officials and school boards to keep OAPSE members paid, keep your benefits intact, and make sure health and safety measures were in place to protect those of you who returned to onsite work.
Along with AFSCME International, we fought for COVID relief packages to provide critical funding to states, local governments, schools and directly into the pockets of American workers.
And we stayed on the job to handle workplace disputes with employers and to negotiate contracts that included raises and stronger benefits.
And we aren’t finished! In fact, OAPSE field representatives and regional directors will negotiate 260 contracts this summer. And they will be pushing for the strongest contracts possible given the additional funding streams since last spring.
You can count on everyone at OAPSE to stick with you. And we hope that you will continue to stick with the union!
You can join your OAPSE sisters and brothers in a pubic display of support on August 30, when OAPSE will sponsor our second Sticking with the Union Day.
We will have “Now More than Ever, I’m Sticking With MY Union!” stickers and bumper stickers available for you. On August 30, we ask you to wear your sticker and send us photos and short videos so we can post to social media and show our members and the public that even after all we’ve been through, we are still here fighting for each other and that we are proud to be OAPSE!
More information will be provided by email, on Facebook and by your field representative. We look forward to posting your message of solidarity on August 30!