In the post below my friend Bob Lyons speculates on the week ahead in Springfield.
Nobody knows more about the pension situation than Bob. He is a member of the TRS board of trustees and serves us well in that position.
But I was struck by his thinking when it comes to the role of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Look for Cullerton on the other hand to attempt to convince the Chicago Teachers Union to accept the same deal as the state union coalition agreed to and to have the Chicago Teacher Pension fund be included in SB2404. His idea is that with the CTU backing the bill a number of city Democrats will push the Speaker for a vote on the measure.
Now, I have no inside information on the role of the CTU in all this.
However, I can speculate with the best of them about it.
Many Chicago teachers that I know are supportive of the cost shift.
This is because in their minds, they are paying twice. CPS pensions are funded by Chicago taxes and state pensions are funded by state taxes which Chicagoans also pay.
The whole state pension system is designed to have everybody looking out for their own. That is why they leave judges’ pensions out of the bills.
Even though I am a strong supporter of Chicago teachers, I oppose the cost shift because it will sharply cut into what downstate districts will be able afford to pay teachers and support education programs. Plus it will hit the poorest districts the hardest.
It is a dilemma that Madigan and Cullerton take full advantage of in their attempt to divide and conquer.
Is, as Bob speculates, Cullerton going to go to the CTU to get their support for a deal that incorporates a cost shift into SB2404?
Will he succeed? I doubt it.
The We Are One coalition includes the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
The CTU is an IFT affiliate. In fact, the CTU represents 30% of the IFT membership.
But nothing in SB1 or SB2404 directly impacts Chicago teachers.
While the We Are One coalition has paired with Senate President Cullerton on SB2404, it is clear that there is broad discontent among the rank-and-file of the affiliated unions with the deal, particularly among retired teachers.
My experience is that there is nothing in the history and practice of the current CTU leadership that would suggest they would cut a deal that many of their members would see as throwing Illinois active and retired teachers under the proverbial bus.
Talking to a rank-and-file Chicago teacher yesterday, he analyzed SB2404 perfectly: “There’s no new revenue and no promises of health insurance. Sounds like a shitty deal.”
I don’t know what’s going to happen on pensions between now and Friday. But I don’t look for a deal between Cullerton and the CTU.