The text of the complaint letter is printed below:
Over the last six months, it has come to the attention of our JESP leaders that many, if not all, of our members in the Bus Barn have been denied a pension benefit that is their right by law. At this point, JESP has submitted a written letter to the district calling immediate attention to this situation. According to Missouri Revised Statutes, the Public Education Employee Retirement System (PEERS) applies to all regularly employed public school employees who devote at least 20 hours per week and 600 hours per year to such employment. If an employee meets the eligibility requirements they must be included in the system and all relevant contributions must be made. In investigating this situation within on our membership, we have discovered drivers who have served the district for 20 years or more, each one having been regularly employed and working over 20 hours a week and 600 hours a year. Each of these drivers have been denied their pension benefit under law, a retirement that for each individual would now exist in the tens of thousands of dollars - if it existed. In other scenarios, drivers and aids have been granted and then denied their rightful benefit over the course of more recent years for seemingly nonsensical reasons. One thing is clear: there is a problem with the pension benefit distribution within the bus barn community and while the district has taken steps to remedy this problem going forward (contributions for employees working over 20 hours a week did resume in January), the problem of lost retirement to dozens of hardworking employees remains. We look forward to hearing back from Joplin Public Schools and reaching resolution on this matter on behalf of our members.
JESP is the arm of the Joplin National Education Association (JNEA) that works with support personnel.