Strike update from IEA:
Marcia Schulte is the local President.
They have been out for 2 days so far.
There are 39 teachers and 535 students.
The strike headquarters is at Turner Hall, 307 West 2nd Street.
Senator Dan Biss is one of the leading pension busters in Illinois.
Our S.O.R.E chapter of IEA Retired confronted him at his district office prior to the vote to cut constitutionally protected pension benefits.
Yesterday I received countless copies of an announcement Biss sent to constituents.
Biss is hosting a community meeting ON RETIREMENT SECURITY.
I wanted to send you a quick email tell you about two events my office is hosting in the coming days.
The first is a seminar this Wednesday hosted by Central Management Services (CMS) to help explain changes to retiree health coverage for public workers.
The second is the last in our Critical Issues Series, this time about ways to help workers find retirement security when their employers offer them no options. I’m excited to be joined by a fantastic panel, and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important topic.
Panelists: Lucy Mullany, Senior Policy Associate with the Heartland Alliance and Coordinator of the Illinois Asset Building Group; Spencer Cowan, Vice President of the Woodstock Institute; and Scott Adams, labor specialist who was instrumental in passing a similar piece of legislation in California.
Please let my office know if you have any questions at 847-568-1250, and I look forward to seeing you soon!Best,
Senator Daniel Biss
9th District – Illinois
Diane Horwitz is a Moraine Valley Community College retiree who lives in Evanston. Rinda West is an Oakton Community College retiree who lives in Chicago. The following was published in the Springfield State Journal-Register. You can comment on the SJR page.
President Barack Obama recently cautioned the nation about “a dangerous and growing inequality.” As retirees, we feel that state policies are contributing to this worrisome trend.
Just last week, the Illinois legislature dealt a blow to teachers’ and other state employees’ retirement benefits.
We faithfully paid into our retirement plans for 30 years while we were teaching, and now we stand to lose a third of our promised benefits over the next 20 years because the legislature regularly failed to contribute the state’s share to our pension fund.
This assault on retirees comes at the same time we are grappling with critical decisions around health care. Just last month, we learned that the state of Illinois was eliminating our public, nonprofit Medicare coverage and pushing us into Medicare Advantage programs, operated by private health insurance companies.
We have just until Friday (Dec. 13) to enroll in one of these private plans or completely relinquish our claim to the state benefits we earned over many years.
Imagine an 80-year-old retiree, who was given only a few weeks to evaluate the state’s Medicare Advantage plans; compare these to the option of sticking with traditional Medicare and buying individual Medigap plans; compare prices, deductibles, co-pays and drug costs; and check with her medical providers to see if they are willing to take the new insurance plan.
In the middle of this process, she learns her pension benefits will be cut!
We have seen firsthand the confusion, anxiety and anger of many retirees from these cuts and changes. How do such state policies increase income inequality? One of our state senators, Senate President John Cullerton, argued in October that the state’s pension debt is not a “crisis” but rather “an issue being pushed by business-backed groups seeking lower income taxes at the expense of retiree benefits,” according to the Oct. 21 Chicago Tribune.
Slashing benefits is an injustice for retirees and current workers. Our pensions are not “gifts.” They are part of the wages we earned in a lifetime of work, compensation we were promised contractually. Why should we sacrifice so tax breaks can be given to the likes of Archer Daniels Midland?
When the General Assembly cut health care benefits for retirees, it precipitated the shift toward Medicare Advantage plans. While touted as a cost-saving measure for Illinois, studies have shown that the move to private Medicare Advantage programs will end up costing taxpayers even more because of the generous subsidies the federal government gives to these private, corporate plans.
Last May, the General Accountability Office estimated the Medicare program overpaid private insurers by $5.1 billion during the past three years for these Medicare Advantage plans, which are big moneymakers for insurance companies. Humana, for example, derived more than 60 percent of its revenue — $25 billion of $39 billion last year — from Medicare Advantage.
n contrast, public, non-profit Medicare has very low overhead and is accountable to the public, not to private shareholders wanting to squeeze profits out of our health care.
In our minds, none of these issues would have arisen if Illinois had an equitable, graduated income tax system and pursued other options for revenue generation, options that would have corporations and the rich “share the sacrifice” along with retirees. For example, we could get rid of our regressive flat tax of 5 percent that both millionaire bankers and fast food workers alike pay.
When it comes to health care, our entire nation would be better served by a simple, unified national health care system, a “Medicare for all” plan, under which health care would be assured from birth to death. We’d save money and lives.
Dignity and security are eroding for all of us in our country. It’s an especially precarious time for seniors. We need policies that reduce income inequality and provide security for all our citizens.
I am publishing the names of every Illinois legislator who failed to vote in defense of the language of the Illinois Constitution protecting public service worker pensions on Tuesday, December 3rd. I will post this every Tuesday. Every name. Every week. Y equals a vote against our pensions. P is present. E is excused absence (!). NV is not voting.
Pension thieves in the Senate:
Y Jones, E.
Y Van Pelt
Y Senate President John Cullerton
Pension thieves in the House:
Y Chapa LaVia
E – Denotes Excused Absence
The harder the mayor works to kill a public discussion of this dangerous idea, the better it starts to sound.
In June of 2012 we collected signatures in Logan Square for an elected Chicago school board. Nobody turned us down, except the City Council and the Mayor.
An elected school board for Chicago is a very good idea.
That’s why I went door to door with a petition to get the idea on the ballot back in the summer of 2012.
Nobody refused to sign the petition. Not one. It was the easiest petition to get people to sign I have ever done. Frequently people would ask, “Is this against the Mayor?” And when I said it was against his control of the schools, they would grab the petition out of my hands to sign it.
That’s because it’s a good idea.
So good that every school board in Illinois is elected.
The mayor picks the members of our school board.
Good job, Mayor!
By the way. Last night the phone rang and it was a polling company. They asked me one question: If the election were held today would I prefer Rahm Emanuel or Toni Preckwinkle?
Do I need to tell you what I said?
But who paid for this poll? I doubt it was the Mayor. And there was only one other name among the choices.
Run Toni. Run.
Now, back to the topic of mayoral control of the schools. Later for mayoral control of the city.
Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown admits he is not a big fan of non-binding referenda, which is what we petitioned for.
It would be non-binding because Chicagoans don’t have home rule on the issue. The state’s legislature must allow us the right to vote for a school board.
We get to vote on the board that runs the water filtration system, but not for members of the school board.
But even Mark Brown is changing his mind.
Even though every other community in the state of Illinois elects its school board, the very idea is considered too dangerous an idea for the city of Chicago.
It’s so dangerous that we can’t even allow a silly advisory referendum, the results of which everyone would be free to ignore, because that might invite a public discussion. And if we had that discussion, somebody might be forced to face the possibility that the citizenry, having considered the counter-arguments, supports having a democratic voice in the operation of its public schools.
On Monday, the City Council maneuvered for the second time in two years to avoid hearing from voters on the elected school board question.
State law allows only three advisory referendums per election, so aldermen came up with three questions of their own to put before voters in the March 18 primary. That made sure there was no room on the ballot for the elected school board measure.
Instead, Chicago voters can weigh in on whether to raise taxi fares, ban concealed firearms in places that serve alcohol and also ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Those are all legitimate questions of public policy, although I think we can predict right now what the outcome of those referendums will be. No. Yes. Yes.
Ald. John Arena (45th), sponsor of the proposed elected school board referendum, said the intent to crowd the measure off the ballot became clear when the other three referendum proposals surfaced at the last City Council meeting.
Brown’s conclusion is that if the mayor is so against it, it must be good.
Not a bad standard.
- George Schmidt publishes Substance News.
I’d phrase it this way: Pat Quinn has a unions problem. From the time he picked Paul Vallas as his running mate, he had signed his political suicide note. His signing the Pension Theft legislation was just the inking of the note. But let’s not forget that the birth of corporate “school reform” — long before Arne Duncan and Race to the Top — was brought to Illinois courtesy of Paul G. Vallas in Chicago. Closing of “failing” schools? Vallas began it in 1997 by “reconstituting” Englewood and other high schools. Crazy testing? Ask me about Chicago’s CASE tests. Quinn just doubled down when he signed on to pension theft.
Remember, too. Quinn won slimly in 2010 — three counties out of 101. And that victory was because of the teacher votes we helped bring him from the Chicago Teachers Union. No Chicago teacher will vote for Pat Quinn this year. And that was before the Pension Theft vote. This just, to use the cliche, ices that shitcake Quinn will be trying to serve us…
I appreciate your history lesson, George.
But as for the current situation, I’m not sure you’re right about what every teacher will do. I already have gotten into plenty of discussions with Chicago teachers over who to vote for – with Quinn being an option.
And I have heard from teachers all over the state. There’s is no doubt about our anger.
But as always, anger is not enough. The missing ingredient is leadership.
Without leadership, particularly union leadership, what are teachers and the other pubic employees to do? Without an electoral alternative that is progressive, pro-public education, pro-union, pro-pension the vote will be split – with some teachers voting for a Republican like Dillard, some staying home and some even voting for Quinn.
The state’s union leadership has had plenty of time to push for and back a progressive candidate. But as is often the case, they did nothing. It’s not as if back when Daley and Lisa Madigan were still in or considering a run did we have good choices.
While Quinn will not get my vote, without an organized electoral alternative and clear union leadership, what all teachers will do is very much in doubt.