Let’s consider this scenario:
A school district employee works as a teacher for 20 years. She pays into the state’s retirement system 9.4% of her salary every paycheck as she is required to do. Let’s say that her salary after 20 years and having moved through all her possible professional growth lanes is now around $80 or 90 K. By the way, over this same period the state rarely pays into the system what they are legally obligated to pay. Meanwhile the teacher has gone back to school at night and earned at Type 75 certification which qualifies her to become an administrator. Which she does. As an administrator her salary is now well into the six figures. All of it creditable to the Teacher Retirement System.
Now let’s look at another scenario.
A teacher works for 20 years. She pays into the state’s retirement system 9.4% of her salary every paycheck. The state has not met their obligation to pay its share. The teacher is active in the union and get’s elected president, her salary is now in the six figures. But that teacher can no longer have her union salary credited to the retirement system. She is frozen at her teacher salary.
TRS contributions are presently capped at a salary of $250,000.
The Chicago Tribune considers this a reform.
The Chicago Teachers Union considers it anti-union punishment and is going to court.
The measure, which deals with abuses exposed by the Tribune and WGN-TV, affects a small number of city workers on leaves of absence to work for their unions, and it passed with little dissent.
Now the narrow change is being challenged in court. A lawsuit spearheaded by the Chicago Teachers Union this month seeks to overturn the law, and the union’s leaders are making it clear they will aggressively counter any push to solve the pension crisis on the backs of public-sector workers.
“I would disagree with the characterization that it’s a reform,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “There is a lot of politics being played, and part of that has to do with looking for people to blame.”
CTU leaders say reforms to the pension system should include additional revenues to shore up the funds, not just benefit reductions.
As usual, Jesse Sharkey is exactly right.
The law, which punishes teachers who are chosen by their members to serve as union leaders is one more attempt to chip away at the pension protection clause of the state constitution and take attention away from the revenue problem.
The $90 billion unfunded pension liability is not the result of elected union leaders being credited for their union service.
The liability exists because of the failure of the state to raise sufficient revenue to pay their bills.
Let me say it again: There is no pension problem. There is a revenue problem.
Good for the CTU for taking on this fight.