I’m not running this year.

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Trying to get recognized at an RA. That’s why I wore the ugly orange sweater. They said they didn’t see me.

For only the second time in over two decades I will not be running for the IEA Representative Assembly.

The first time was as a first year retiree in 2012 when the IEA leadership would not let me on the ballot. They had screwed up the paper work when I tried to transfer my membership from active to retired. By the time the Springfield office figured it all out it was too late to submit my ballot to run state-wide as a retired delegate.

The next year I ran and was elected. People tell me it is unusual to win state-wide on your first try.

I am not running this year. Until active rank-and-file members are tired enough of leadership that is unwilling to end their compliant, anything-to-get-a-seat-at-the-table strategy, my attendance at an RA as a retired delegate seems more and more an existential act.

IEA leaders don’t represent the hundred thousand active members very well. And they sure don’t represent retired members.

The leadership of the IEA is too willing to ignore our interests as retirees. That is what they did when they bargained SB2404 and offered to give away our COLA increases.

Some voices who speak for the leadership even wanted to start a war between IEA Retired and other members of the pension rights coalition.

Former IEA President Bob Haisman never ceases his public attacks on the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. Either the elected leadership agrees with him or they make no attempt to restrain him and his wild accusations.

In either case, the interests of retired teachers in protecting our pensions in Illinois are undermined by this behavior.

Last year when we tried to get a commitment from the RA that IEA leadership would not bargain away what we would soon win from the Illinois Supreme Court, we were stymied by parliamentary maneuvers.

This is an old game the leadership plays in subverting democracy at the RA.

I can recall when in order to be recognized by Ken Swanson at a microphone as an elected delegate from my Park Ridge local, the entire Region 36 delegation had to stand behind me waving their hands.

This can change. It must be changed. For the first time in decades, teacher union membership has fallen below 50% of the teachers in this country. Union survival is threatened by leadership such as this. But active rank-and-file members must be the force to change it.

Retired simply don’t have the numbers or the power.

It is difficult for this retiree to feel I have a home in the IEA anymore other than in my local S.O.R.E. chapter.

I am clearly not alone.

Very few retirees feel compelled to attend the RA. There are only 25 retired members running for the 21 delegate slots. This is the fewest number of candidates running in my memory.

My main advice to retirees would be to withhold their votes from former IEA Presidents Bob Haisman and Ken Swanson. Although they will likely get elected based on name recognition, not voting for them might just send a message to the leadership.

Many retired delegates should recall that it was under Haisman’s watch that we got the disastrous pension ramp and it was under Swanson’s watch that we got the disastrous Tier II. And while SB 7, which took away seniority rights, tenure rights, tied teacher evaluation to student test scores and raised the required strike authorization vote percentage for Chicago teachers, was passed with Cinda Klickna as president, it was bargained by Swanson’s people.

The other development is that for the first time our votes can be cast electronically. Usually less than 2,000 members vote for delegates out of 12,000 or so members state-wide. It will be interesting to see if electronic, rather than mail-in voting, will increase the number of retired members who see a purpose in voting.

I will also be voting for Bob Kaplan, Mae Smith and Pearl Mack.

11 thoughts on “I’m not running this year.

  1. Teachers and other public employees and retirees are being set up by Rauner. Already he had Munger shortchange the TRS and the other state pensions hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. Early next year, Rauner will claim the state is short of money. He then will say “I have a billion dollars that I want to give to daycare/social services/Medicaid/CPS/etc., but these greedy public retirees are preventing that. Instead of being able to fund these social services, they want me to put the money into their pensions.”
    Rauner will try to blame us for the revenue crises he has deliberately caused. Rauner will try to force lawmakers to do a pension “holiday” in exchange for funding the other shortfalls. We must remind these lawmakers everyday that our pensions are deferred compensation for work we have already done. The supreme court has spoken and our pensions are not negotiable.

    • Don’t fall for the false choice presented as the basis of this argument. Excessive debt is the cause of budget problems, not pensions.

      Debt is fungible. One could easily argue that bond interest payments, or interest on past due bills owed by the state, or pork projects, or prison costs, or education costs, or (add your least popular spending item here) are consuming money that could otherwise be spent providing services. (Notice no one ever promises that any money saved WOULD be spent on services)

      The real problem (one which has existed for at least 50 years) is that revenue is insufficient to pay for what our elected officials have promised to provide. So they rob Peter (earned pension benefits) to pay Paul (provide services popular with their constituents). No real plan was ever made to try to pay the money back.

      Politicians are now trying to avoid responsibility for this mess by blaming pensions. They refuse to raise revenue to pay what is owed, They also refuse to reduce payments to their friends feeding at the trough.

      Instead, they create false choices where the public is asked to agree with them that some debts are worthy of payment and others are not. With pensions, they declare the payments to be too expensive to pay, (and blame the victims for the theft of their benefits) calling pensioners “greedy”. How are we greedy to expect to be paid what we were promised?

      While all this goes on, politicians continue to pay the money owed to their friends and stiff everyone else. The choice of what gets paid shows the connections of wealth to power in state government.

      Politicians have all the money in the world available to pay what they want to pay for, and nothing for retirees or any other (in their eyes) less valuable citizens. No concession on our part would ever be enough to solve this problem. Besides, we have earned (and are owed) this benefit.

      The Supreme Court has stated that they will require the payment of pension benefits directly out of the state treasury (if necessary before anything else gets paid) if pension funds become insolvent. So ALL of the state’s money would have to be gone for us not to be paid our pensions.

      The only way politicians can avoid all this is by getting us to agree to accept less. Raising the spectre of pension fund insolvency is an attempt to intimidate pensioners into accepting something that cannot (by law) be forced upon them. They are nothing but liars and thieves Don’t play the game.

  2. Thank you for all you have done. I will never miss reading your blog. I will also have not and will not jon retired IEA because they have never represented me. IRTA is honest and worthwhile, IEA not.

    Retired after 37 years of teaching.

  3. A million thanks for all that you’ve done, Fred, & all that you tirelessly continue to do, through your blog & your public speaking.
    I still don’t–& probably never will–understand the IEA leadership’s animosity toward the IRTA. IRTA membership & activity does NOT take anything away from IEA–in fact, most–if not all of those who are retired IEA members–continue to belong to IEA-R, in addition to IRTA. (I would think that the same is true of IFT-R members, & I have heard of no attacks on IRTA by IFT leaders {although that could be because I don’t belong to the IFT}.)
    Sounds like grade school playground stuff to me.
    Or, perhaps, the ILL-Annoy General Assembly.

    • Where the I.E.A. “stands” is clear. I.E.A. leadership “personal interests” trump active employee interests (and everything else).

      The I.E.A. demonstrated they will accept reductions of retiree pension benefits (SB 2404) to preserve I.E.A.’s “seat at the table”. As part of the “deal” they also believed a meaningless promise that pensions of active employees might be diminished a little less if they sell out retirees.

      This agreement showed that that the I.E.A. views retiree pensions as gratuities from our employers, not as deferred earnings that belong to us. A chip to be bargained away (at our expense) to further the interests of others deemed more important.

      The I.E.A.’s support of SB 2404 and later refusals to publicly repudiate “negotiated” pension reductions for retirees even after the Supreme Court decision were the final straw for me.

      The “divide and conquer” strategy of the pension thieves has been internalized by I.E.A. leadership. It may in time destroy any effectiveness they might have as a union. The I.E.A. has created a situation of “them” v. “us”.

      That is why I support I.R.T.A. . No weasel words or double talk. Clear positions backed by action and measured militancy. The choice is clear to me. I do not want the I.E.A. to speak for me. I choose I.R.T.A..

      Active educators will have to decide for themselves if they want to continue to be represented by the I.E.A. Perhaps it is time for them to do something else. Do they want to be represented by a club or a union? It is up to them.

      Why would any retiree even want to join I.E.A. retired?

  4. Teachers and retirees are being betrayed and targeted by Rauner (R) AND Madigan (D) AND Rahm (D).
    Illinois government is all about the BIG money, the names of BIG money are listed in the private rich boys club headed by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. (Rich sisters and wives [present and ex] are welcome.)
    Corruption and betrayal are bipartisan in Illinois. There is a reason that Illinois is losing population, and the corruption called government in Illinois is the major cause.
    IEA lackeys (called leadership) serve at their table rather than work for the best interests of IEA members. The worst betrayal is that which comes from within leadership (present and past).
    Rah-rah Haisman, Swan-song Swanson, and Click-heels Klickna have track records to prove this.
    We need real leaders such as Chicago’s Karen Lewis and Massachusetts’ Barbara Madeloni. We need to search them out now and support their bids to IEA leadership position.

    • Small off-road engine sounds good. But it stands for Skokie Organization of Retired Educators. We are an official chapter of the Illinois Education Association’s retired branch. We represent retired IEA members in the Chicago north suburbs.

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