NY UFT President Michael Mulgrew and AFT President Randi Weingarten.
The following statement was sent to me from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
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.
President, American Federation of Teachers