-By John Dillon
The Illinois Policy Institute is angry once again with what their editorialist Diana Sroka Rickert considers another unnecessary handout to Chicago teachers: the Pension Pickup.
In her December Tribune editorial last week, Rickert urged Chicago’s besieged Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool to end the current practice of providing pension pickups for the Chicago Teachers Union.
“While (they) have busied themselves asking state taxpayers to send hundreds of millions of dollars Chicago’s way, they’re unwilling to use the $174 million that’s already available for them to use for teacher’s pensions.”
But they’re not the peculaters. The real culprit? Read on, please.
“Chicago teachers are supposed to pay 9 percent of their salaries toward their own retirement savings. But instead, teachers pay just 2 percent; the rest of the “teachers’ contribution” is picked up by taxpayers, thanks to a clause negotiated into their contract6s in the early 1980s.”
As a retired educator from a suburban district I suppose I could feel a little miffed with having paid 9.4% of my salary each paycheck, instead of 9% like those in the CTU. Adding to that, if CTU paid only 2% of the 9%; well, why didn’t I get such a deal?
And that’s exactly what Rickert and the IPI want all of us to do. Let’s not think it out or look into it. Let’s just be blind angry.
The “deal” that Chicago teachers got in the early 1980s was actually a mandated law by the General Assembly in 1983. And this statute (40 ILCS 5/17-130.1) provided the opportunity for retirement contributions to be considered part of the negotiating process in salary and benefit settlements during collective bargaining. In fact, all districts in Illinois got the same deal.
“An Employer or the Board may make these contributions on behalf of its employees by a reduction in the cash salary of the employee or by an offset against a future salary increase or by a combination of a reduction in salary and offset against a future salary increase.”
Teacher’s Union: We’d like to ask for a 2% increase in our wage benefits across the board this next contract.
Board of Education: We’d like to find a way to do that. How about a ½% increase across the board, and we’ll pick up 1.5% of your contribution costs per person?
If` you’re still not sure how this works, it means that my union never debated with the Board over my 9.4% payment. But just down the highway at another district near the airport, they did and paid only 4% of their 9.4% requirement.
Read the rest of the article here.