Randi Weingarten responds to my blog post on pensions.

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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.

Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

8 thoughts on “Randi Weingarten responds to my blog post on pensions.

  1. Federation of Teachers’ Retired Teachers Constituency Council? I am a member of IFT – Retired and I knew nothing about this group. Am I a member by default? If so, perhaps I will un-default myself since they don’t seem to believe that our pensions are a promise. I am also a proud member of IRTA. The dues are cheap and there are good people representing the interests of currently retired teachers at the state and local levels. If you are not a member, please visit their web site or phone them and join up. .

  2. Randi needs to read any of Glen Brown’s blogs from the last three years.
    Instead she allows the Civic Committee via Madigan to frame the argument. She even mentions the nasty “right wing” (?) that the Madigan/Cullerton liberal democrats represent? Simple minded. Propaganda points based in semi-reality.
    *retirement security for today and tomorrow’s retirees
    *ensure a solvent fund and viable defined benefit plan for years to come
    *shared sacrifice
    *sensible compromise
    *the blame game
    *this was forged with workers and their unions, not done to them
    *this fair solution for long-term pension stabilization
    *a reasonable short-term cost of living freeze
    *an ironclad pension funding guarantee
    *promised benefit payments will continue throughout their retirement
    *preservation of the defined benefit plan and the long-term stabilization of the pension fund
    *rejected, the contemplated alternatives could be far, far worse
    *a retirement with dignity
    Randi recites her Kabuki Theater script, as required of her role; she recites it like the puppet she is.
    Now, how nauseating is that?

    -Ken Previti

  3. I once thought that only the republicans hated the unions. Then I found out that the democrats, too, hate the unions. Now I’m finding out that our own union “leadership” hates unions. Together, the Grand Triumvirate have ignored, denied, and destroyed a constitutional covenant, a sacred pact which we have honored forever they have forever abused.

    1. Mike! I agree!! Mike Madigan the Chairperson of the Democratic Party in Illinois not only turned his back on one of the Democratic Parties loyal partners the Union’s , not only wouldn’t he talk to us, negotiate with us — he went after a Union Valur – Pensions! He sponsored the first of a string of Pension Killers -SB512 (three years ago) and he testified for it!

      But I lose you when you say IEA’s (I presume?) leaders hate unions? HUH? The truth of the matter is it was the IEA that held the Union Coalition together — It was IEA President Cinda Klickna who reached out to Democrat Cullerton and prevailed upon him to negotiate with the Union Coalition.

      Despite attempts to downplay it — SB2404 is a UNION Bill. A compromise – not just one union sought but eight unions — SB2404 is a union compromise negotiated with a democratic leader who wanted to work with the Unions. You might be right that it is unconstitutional but eight Union Lawyers disagree.

      Folks including the IRTA who stand against SB2404 and are actively working against SB2404 are standing in opposition to the unions and just may scuttle a very positive return to Union-Democratic party partnership. I understand groups who don’t consider themselves and don’t understand unions like the IRTA not understanding those core union values but union members?

      With all due respect Mike …. I don’t get all misty eyes over the “Sacred Pact” stuff but I do take very serious support for my UNION and In fact eight unions. I had good friends that couldn’t understand how I no longer considered them to be friends after they publicly did not support our union when we set up a picket line. Disagreeing with the union leadership is good. Debate should be encouraged not discouraged in a Union. Maybe it’s simplistic on my part — but once a decision is made, a direction charted ….supporting your union is a pretty basic value. I understand groups who don’t consider themselves a union like the IRTA not understanding those core union values but union members? We need to pull together and oppose SB 1 and support SB2404…… publicly working against SB2404 ….. is ….is …..not productive. Bob Haisman

  4. Randi, SB2404 is only supported out of fear that Madigan’s SB1 would be the only other option. WE did not create this crisis!! You have to know that it’s just a matter of time that they dig into our pockets deeper and deeper. If they get by with this one, look over your shoulder; they’ll be coming again. What exactly are taxpapers contributing? All I’ve heard is that retirees are expected to fix this. Current retirees should be exempt and judges should be included. Are you ok with the exclusion of judges?? You want a fair and equitable fix, take $100 per household where you will find either a retiree or someone who sooner or later will retire. That would be fair. Increase taxes on alcohol. Charge farmers for using and tearing up our roads. Increase fines for DUI’s. There were other options. I’m sorry you don’t see them.

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