AFT’s Randi Weingarten supports the pension deal. That’s no surprise. But claiming it fixes the pension system?


American Federation of Teacher President Randi Weingarten gave her stamp of approval to the awful pension deal worked out between the We Are One coalition and Senate President John Cullerton.

“Instead of focusing on blaming, scapegoating and trying to eviscerate public workers—as is the sport in so many states—there was a real effort in the Senate-passed measure to reach consensus with state workers and find a fair solution to fixing the pension system.”

This continues the tradition of the leaders not just claiming they cut a deal that needed to be cut.

It “fixed the pension system.”

How is that possible?

The deal does barely anything to address the $100 billion dollar pension liability.

And the only ones paying more going forward are members of the pension system. Teachers and other public service workers.

This reminds me of the leaders’ pronouncement that Senate Bill 7 wasn’t just a bad deal that they were forced to agree to (which they weren’t).

It was a model for the nation.

It was teacher-led reform.

Here’s the news, Randi.

Nothing is fixed by this.



14 thoughts on “AFT’s Randi Weingarten supports the pension deal. That’s no surprise. But claiming it fixes the pension system?

  1. “Fighting for things as well as fighting against things” is a non comment. Why not address the things that members ARE fighting for ? Hers is a process comment. I see this all over Fred, “what are you doing to find a solution to the economic problems”? when the problems are purposely created and imposed upon people, where is the “cooperative spirit” then?

  2. Just got back from the pension “reform” meeting in Orland Park where Ingram (TRS), Matire (CTBA), Montgomery (IFT pres.), legislators Burke, Cunningham, and Hastings were in attendance. If I understood what was said, the legislators were in agreement that with SB2404 there’s absolutely no guarantee that the state/legislators won’t be back for more in the future. Ingram left his slides in the car and tried unsuccessfully to “wing-it”. I don’t believe anyone asked him any questions. Montgomery said that while SB 2404 wasn’t necessarily fair, that he told the legislators that this bill is the bottom line since he’s negotiated away $50 billion in benefits in the shared sacrifice and that if anything is changed the deal is off the table! Since the overwhelming majority of the crowd was made up of active teachers, why they weren’t up in arms about having their benefits taken away from them is perplexing. Could it be that the unions have done a better job duping their constituents than we give them credit for? I’m at a loss for an explanation. Perhaps that’s why union leaders feel they speak they way they do about taking away our hard earned and promised benefits. Matire, on the other hand was the only one who really made sense stating that the tax structure needed to be changed. It was interesting to watch the legislators take notes on Matire’s presentation. Unfortunately in order to change the tax structure, the constitution would have to be opened up–something that may not be good for state annuitants.

  3. HI Fred! I always find your posts interesting! You have such a way to turn a phrase! You are an idealist. You strive for perfection. You find such interesting ways to turn a phrase! I disagree with you however from when you said so subtly …..” AFT’s Randi Weingarten gave her stamp of approval to the awful pension deal worked out between the We Are One coalition and Senate President John Cullerton. …..”

    Fred I disagree — I think your wrong. It is not an “awful Deal” it is a good deal given the realities of Illinois Government in 2013!

    Politics is the art of the practical. The pragmatic not the perfect. YES! we wanted the above prescription! The lobbyists and elected State Leaders for the eight labor unions making up ….”We Are One” presented these ideas. Pushed The original SB2404. The Legislature had no stomach for it. NO Revenues! No matter how many times we came back at them – No Revenues! Especially a Constitutional Amendment for a graduated Income tax. ……”No! No! No! Maybe next year” — they said — …” these things take time. Loop Holes? We don’t want Caterpillar moving to Texas – maybe next year. …..”

    Then Madigan started his Pension show. Then he moved SB 1. No more discussion of the “perfect” — we needed a plan “B” for survival.

    ….Here is my shot at offering a logical (not my strong suit) and “compelling” argument in favor of SB2404……It was “the perfect” it was the prectical.

    First — SB 2404 is a great deal better than SB 1 and unless we came up with an alternative to SB1 — we were going to have it passed. That to me was a compelling reason.

    Second — two very significant considerations were gained in SB 2404 —

    * Contractual enforceable access to state-provided healthcare: Currently, access to state-provided healthcare is not a constitutional right or a contractual right. In fact, the state could remove it at any time. If SB 2404 becomes law, it moves access to state-provided healthcare to a contractual right. Giving people the option to have access to state-provided healthcare ensures that the state healthcare plan, or a comparable plan, be continued. Many members have mistakenly believed that state-provided retiree healthcare, such as TRIP, is something that the state must provide. Not so.

    * Funding guarantee: The state is not constitutionally required to fund the pension systems at any particular amount. Under SB 2404, it will be. More than 15 years ago, IEA was involved in a lawsuit to force the state to pay its portion to the pension systems. The court ruled that the state must honor the pension benefits but the state didn’t have to pay into the systems. Sad, but true. So, what we have put into SB 2404 is language mandating the state pay the systems, and allowing the systems to sue if the state doesn’t pay. Without funding, we jeopardize ever getting our benefits.

    Giving people a choice and providing them something of value they didn’t have before in exchange for accepting a change in benefits (“consideration”). Through lengthy conversations and review with our attorneys (both from the IEA and the coalition), we feel the choice concept has the greatest chance of being constitutional. Each choice in SB 2404 contains something one can exchange for something else.

    All choices have a consideration of constitutionally protected and enforceable guaranteed funding by the state, and a Pension Stabilization Fund, which adds more money into paying off the unfunded liability of the pension systems.

    In the past, there have been choice bills that we have opposed. What made them unconstitutional was that they did NOT offer any significant consideration (giving something of value to members in exchange for what they were asked to give up). SB 2404 offers choice with what we believe is significant consideration.

    I think IEA deserves a lot of credit for not giving up when the could have, for perseverance, and for creatively trying to find alternatives to SB1, and maybe, just maybe remodeling Illinois Political landscape ( alternative to Madigan). To be brutally honest it is way too early to know if we will be successful! But I applaud President Klickna for having the creativity and courage to attempt a restructuring of the Illinois Political landscape — not accepting a defeat, a down ball, a safety but making a play to score!

    Bob Haisman

    1. Why, Bob. I believe you’re posting form letter comments. You simply switched Glen’s name for mine on this one. A little cut and paste action perhaps? I’m hurt. I think I’ve earned condescension with an original comment.

    2. This is from a We Are One fact sheet regarding “unfair, unconstitutional pension cuts”:

      “Although the bill [HB 3411] contains a pension funding guarantee, it can be circumvented if a court finds it significantly imperils broad categories of other funding priorities… Furthermore, it does not give employees a separate right to civil action and only provides permissive authority for the retirement systems to sue for payment.”

      Is this not the case with SB 2404, Bob? Remember: “There isn’t a bill that the legislators cannot undo” –Elaine Nekritz.

      This issue is also about trusting people who cannot be trusted to do what is legal and moral now or in the future.

  4. “For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.” :
    Niccolo Machiavelli – (1469-1527) Italian Statesman and Political Philosopher – Source: Discourses, 1513-1517

  5. It’s really annoying when someone in Randi’s position supports something she probably has not even read, in full, and, therefore, neither understands nor foresees all the ramifications of the bill. However, isn’t that the case with numerous legislators? Does anyone involved (except us, the rank-&-file) REALLY read such things that affect OUR lives? Something analogous that immediately comes to mind is the parking meter fiasco in Chicago. Was not well read or thought through. A rush to judgment, a rush to get things done, without careful thought and consideration.

    Further, Ralph Martire has repeatedly explained cause and solution
    The Springfield legislators: few listened, few researched, few read, and a number said, “Well, let it go to the courts!”
    And who gets hurt?

  6. To the question:

    The room full of teachers were not “up in arms” because they realize that if they end up with this deal they will have dodged a much bigger bullet and they will be hurt a lot less than any of the other proposals to date. The leaders were courageous and did well. I personally don’t think 2404 will pass as is but I am hoping it will. Most teachers and retirees I’ve talked to feel the same way. They may not comment on blogs, go to demonstrations and marches, etc. but they are paying attention and most feel that they can live with this bill if it will end this seemingly endless crisis, at least for now.

  7. From Randi Weingarten:
    Illinois’ pension system is facing huge financial hurdles; the right wing was having a field day using that as a reason to dismantle it and with it, retirement security for today and tomorrow’s retirees. To ensure a solvent fund and viable defined benefit plan for years to come, everyone had to give and take—the state, taxpayers, and current and future retirees. Shared sacrifice is not a term anyone likes but is required at times like this. Current employees, retirees and the state reached a sensible compromise that resulted in SB 2404. In every negotiation, no one gets everything they want—but what sets this agreement apart from the blame game targeting public employees that we see in other states is that this was forged with workers and their unions, not done to them.

    The 13,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers’ Retired Teachers Constituency Council and I have very good reasons for supporting this fair solution for long-term pension stabilization. In exchange for shared sacrifice – accepting a reasonable short-term cost of living freeze—Illinois public employee retirees will have an ironclad pension funding guarantee to ensure that promised benefit payments will continue throughout their retirement. This is huge, considering the Illinois pension system has been plagued by funding shortfalls for years. As the retiree constituency council said in a statement, “Retired teachers spent their careers giving back to their communities. In order to ensure the long-term health of Illinois’ retirement systems, we’re willing to continue that shared sacrifice.”

    Of paramount importance for current and future retirees should be the preservation of the defined benefit plan and the long-term stabilization of the pension fund. These issues are met in SB 2404. If this measure is rejected, the contemplated alternatives could be far, far worse for public employees. Pension benefits wouldn’t be cut with a scissors, as in this case, but with an ax that could shred whatever hopes hard-working public employees have for a retirement with dignity. We have seen that result in other states.

    Randi Weingarten
    President, American Federation of Teachers

    1. Thought you might be interested in NEA President Van Roekel …….

      NEA President urges passage of pension bill negotiated with labor unions
      Dennis Van Roekel: Senate Bill 2404 will help Illinois get its fiscal house in order

      WASHINGTON—Senate Bill 2404 (SB 2404), the pension bill public employee unions, negotiated with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, was approved by the full Senate last week and now heads to the House. Below is a statement by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

      “The state of Illinois can take a huge step toward remedying the damage done by past legislatures and governors by accepting the offer by teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public employees to make changes to their pensions.

      “Senate Bill 2404, the pension legislation, was negotiated by members of the We Are One Illinois union coalition and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and will save $46 billion over 30 years. Our state affiliate, the Illinois Education Association, should be applauded for stepping up, along with the other coalition members and proving once again that unions are problem-solvers.

      “By accepting changes in their pension benefits, the public employees and retirees represented by the coalition unions showed they were willing to help address a problem they had no hand in creating. SB 2404 will help Illinois get its fiscal house in order and, at the same time, stabilize the state pension systems, while helping to ensure the systems will be able to continue to deliver benefits for decades to come.

      “The Illinois House of Representatives is urged to pass, and Gov. Pat Quinn should sign, SB 2404.”

      Follow us on twitter at

      # # #

      The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

  8. Dear Fred — I have a rather nice Picture of President Von Roekel to go with the above post so you wouldn’t have to draw up one of your famous caricatures… let me know I will email it to you! haisman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s