Kentucky educators concerned with pension bill fix, worry about possible strike

Eastern Kentucky Education Association President Merry Berry works with students at her school. (WCHS/WVAH)

The West Virginia school strike has fired up many Kentucky educators who are now fighting for their retirement benefits.

The Public Pension Overhaul Bill (SB 1) in the Kentucky Legislature had its first reading in committee Wednesday with educators having concerns with the legislation.

Hundreds of educators across Kentucky came to Frankfort for the committee meeting.

"We're working to keep our insurance where it's at. We want our pensions to stay where it's at," said Jo Ashworth, principal at Carter City Elementary School in Carter County.

Merry Berry, president of the Eastern Kentucky Education Association, said she was made a promise and "they are not keeping that promise."

Berry has been in education for 26 years and has never missed a retirement fund payment. She said after retirement her pension is all she has.

"They are the ones who have not paid for 25 years, but yet they want to fix that on the back of the very educators that has been paying theirs," Berry said.

It could mean teachers working longer past their planned retirement.

"It's kind of to the point where most teachers are feeling like they need to leave the classroom, but they want to be able to. May not feel as effective then," said Heather Bond, a first grade teacher at Carter City Elementary School.

Kentucky educators believe the next step is to educate parents and the public about this issue and how it effects teachers, staff and students, hoping they don't have to take matters to the next level.

Both Berry and Bond worry and fear a possible teachers' strike in Kentucky.

"We do have to stand up and fight for our own families livelihood. I hope things don't get to the point where it interferes with our daily job," Bond said.

Educators will wait and watch how the bill works its way through the legislative process.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said the public pension overhaul proposed by Republican lawmakers would not withstand court challenges likely to follow if the measure becomes law.

For more information from the Kentucky Education Association on the pension bill visit the links below:

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