News & Blog

07.14.22

Mid-Summer 2022 Updates

The AAUP Votes to Affiliate with AFT
At the National AAUP biennial meeting in June, delegates from around the country approved the agreement for the AAUP to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which also entails affiliation with the AFL-CIO.The Ohio Conference AAUP is pleased that the AAUP is more formally becoming a part of the larger labor movement. We always have worked closely with our sisters and brothers in other unions, but the combination of resources, joint organizing, and other opportunities will strengthen faculty and other workers far beyond what we can accomplish on our own.To read more about the affiliation agreement, click here.
Statehouse News: August 2 Primary & Legislative Updates
August 2 State Legislative Primaries
Due to the chaos surrounding the state legislative redistricting process, the primaries for State House and State Senate seats were not held in May along with the other primary elections. Instead, these state primaries will be held on Tuesday, August 2. All 99 Ohio House seats and 17 of the 33 Ohio Senate seats will have primaries. Click here to check your voter registration status and polling location.

Legislative Updates
Before breaking for summer recess, the General Assembly passed, and Gov. DeWine signed, Senate Bill 135. One of the centerpieces of this bill, which will become law on July 21, is a mandate that public colleges and universities establish processes to handle “free speech” complaints by any members of campus communities. While we expressed concerns about this mandate, these provisions take the wind out of the sails of “educational gag order” (EGO) bills that have tried to regulate what can and cannot be discussed in classrooms on account of free speech concerns.

One of those EGO bills, which we have monitored closely, is HB 327. The sponsors of HB 327 continue to work on new iterations of the bill, even though House Republican leadership does not appear to have an appetite to advance the bill. If the bill were to become law, it would set a precedent for educational content to be decided by political whims. Our chief concern is that it would muzzle faculty and restrict academic freedom. It could threaten faculty tenure, as well as program and institutional accreditation.

Another EGO bill that has received quite a bit of press attention is HB 616. HB 616 is targeted at K-12 education and contains anti-critical race theory components as well as provisions dealing with sex education. HB 616 could impact college and university courses, as the bill would prohibit educators from receiving continuing education credits for courses that address certain topics (like critical race theory).Due to the late August 2 primary, and the fact that legislators will be campaigning for the general election afterward, there likely will not be much legislative activity this fall. However, it is always expected that there will be a slew of activity during the “lame duck session”–the session after the general election and before the beginning of the new calendar year. As always, we will keep members apprised of relevant developments.
STRS Updates
Election Results
We are pleased to relay that the OCAAUP-endorsed candidates for the STRS Board–Elizabeth Jones and Julie Sellerswere successful in their election bids. In addition to Jones and Sellers, incumbent challenger Steve Foreman was elected to the Retirement Board. Their terms begin September 1.Thank you to all OCAAUP members who participated in the elections! Your votes helped to elect people who will work closely with our own Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum to create a more secure retirement for STRS members–one that better balances fiduciary responsibilities of the system with the real-world implications for active members and retirees.

STRS Benefit Plan Changes
Earlier this year, the STRS Retirement Board approved two benefit plan changes that took effect on July 1:

1)A one-time 3% cost-of-living increase (COLA) that will be paid to eligible benefit recipients. The COLA will be implemented as applied under current Ohio statute — that is: An increase of 3% of base benefit will be added to the monthly payment in fiscal year 2023 for benefit recipients who began receiving benefits on June 1, 2018, or earlier, and will apply to future monthly payments. The date of the increase is the anniversary date of retirement, which always falls on the first of the month. For example, any teacher who retired effective July 1 (2017 or earlier) will receive a COLA on July 1, 2022. A teacher who retired effective June 1 (2018 or earlier) will receive a COLA on June 1, 2023.Members who retired July 1, 2018, or later are not eligible for a COLA at this time (must have received benefits for 60 months to be eligible for COLA).

2) For active members, elimination of the age 60 requirement for retirement age and service eligibility that was set to take effect in 2026. Now, the final change to the phased-in age and service requirements will be made Aug. 1, 2023, when 35 years of service will be required for an unreduced retirement.

In recent STRS Board meetings, consultants have painted a grim outlook for market returns and the ability of the system to consider a more permanent restoration of the COLA or relaxing the retirement requirements for active teachers. We will continue to be advocates for sound and fair retirements for faculty in STRS.
OCAAUP In Person Annual Meeting: October 28-29, 2022
We are excited to announce that OCAAUP is planning on hosting its first in-person annual meeting since 2019! The events will be held in the Polaris/Westerville area of Columbus. We are attempting to make this a hybrid meeting for those who will not be able to attend in person.

The annual meeting will begin with an informal dinner on Friday, October 28 at Polaris Grill. Hotel accommodations for that Friday are available at a reduced group rate at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus Polaris. The main business meeting will be held at the OCSEA Union Hall on Saturday, October 29.

The cost of the meeting is $50 for those attending both the Friday dinner and Saturday business meeting. To attend just the Saturday business meeting, the cost is $25. For more complete details and to register, click here. You can direct any questions to sara@ocaaup.org.

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