Keeping retirement weird. How not to fight back in the Trump era.


Fighting back in a time of Rauner and Trump. Low-paid workers strike at O’Hare last week.

Teachers in Skokie District 65 voted to ratify their collective bargaining agreement yesterday. They have been without a contract since August. The vote was 579 in favor and 101 against, according to Paula Zelinski, DEC president.

The details of the CBA will be released to the public following another ratification vote by the District 65 board of education.

I don’t know anything about the results. No matter. I never comment on the results of somebody else’s bargained agreement. I have bargained plenty of them. It is difficult stuff.  These are difficult times. I hope the teachers did okay.

And teacher contracts are mainly about local stuff.


It is getting close to Winter break and to my knowledge there has not been a single teachers strike in the state of Illinois where there are roughly 600 school districts with way more than that many contracts. I would guess maybe a third expired and had to be bargained this past year.

I follow this stuff pretty closely and I can’t recall a year in recent history without at least a couple of teacher strikes in Illinois in the Fall.

No strikes.

Is that a sign of labor peace or labor fear?

Every situation has its own particularities. Nobody likes a teachers’ strike. Certainly not teachers. But it is a part of the process and once in a while a strike is needed.

Maybe just not this year.

Or maybe it is a sign of fear and playing defense in the era of Rauner and Trump.

Like the Carrier deal, which allows hundred of jobs to get sent to Mexico, but maybe keeps the Indiana plant open for a while.

Sarah Palin called it crony capitalism. I don’t even know what the hell she is talking about. What kind of capitalism isn’t crony capitalism these days?

Bernie Sanders was way more accurate when he wrote that it gives permission for every corporation to demand a bribe to keep from moving to cheaper labor.

The United Steelworkers Union, which represents the Carrier workers, applauded the deal even though they weren’t consulted and hadn’t seen the details. Democrats called for 800 more deals just like it. And the national media got played by Trump once again.

I’m thinking about the last week in the Illinois legislature where on consecutive days the House failed to override a veto by Rauner, our little Trump, of a budget agreement for CPS but passed a bailout for ComEd.

Progressive friends – and they are friends – tell me that the bill contains money for green technologies and needed changes to regulations which we wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t give ComEd the bailout.

What I know is that in a state that can’t pay its bills, that doesn’t begin to raise enough revenue to keep its public schools from being last in the nation in state school funding, where retired public employees have had to spend hundred of thousands of dollars for legal fees to protect our contractual and constitutionally guaranteed pensions, which hasn’t had a budget in two years, legislators just gave ComEd a bailout.

I’m sure there were good intentions. But the road to hell may well be lit by by the solar power of good intentions.

Some of this is just old news. Same old same old.

Or maybe we are seeing a trend in fighting Raunerism and Trumpism.

I don’t believe we can win this way.

Resisting Trumpism is going to be difficult but all the more necessary at a time when union leaders and Democrats are saying we should give Trump a chance and corporate bailouts are called wins by even progressive legislators.

6 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. How not to fight back in the Trump era.”

  1. Yep. ComEd (which makes billions in profits) gets a huge bailout, we all pay more on our bills, and those of us relying on our earned pensions from CTPF are a little more insecure because the state again reneges on the promise of an actual state payment to our pension plan. Teachers in Chicago are now looking at Christmas wondering if there will be massive layoffs soon. Just what the clowns in charge of government want. A fine Dickensian life of poverty and insecurity for the masses as the rich and wealthy eat lavish meals around a holiday tree. Please, sir. Can I have a little more?

  2. Fred, thanks for labeling the legislaton for what it is: a bail out for com ed who already makes charitable donations from rate payers. Can you list legislators who voted for this- I would like to know for next election

    1. I encourage every Illinois voter to contact their state rep and ask them how they voted on the school budget agreement and the ComEd bailout. Ask them. Let them hear your voice. Elections are two years away. Screw the election. Ask them now.

  3. It’s totally labor fear. It has been going on for some time now. In Chicago and many districts in the collar counties, teachers have had to fight and sometimes strike just to keep what they have, or at least keep their losses to a minimum. Once outside of the collar counties, teachers in many districts have much lower pay scales, their raises have been 1% or so for many years, and a lot of districts never offered the 6% retirement incentives. In the last few years medical insurance premium percentages paid by these teachers have gone up substantially. At the same time, co-pays, deductibles, and the list of things “not covered” have also increased, all coming out of the teacher’s pay. These teachers can’t put up a big fight, and don’t dare strike because they can be SB7ed later at the whim of administration. The economy of rural and downstate Illinois is already bad, and ex-teachers can have a difficult time finding other employment. At least up here in the Chicago/collar county area, ex-teachers usually can find other employment.
    So, labor peace is here only because most workers and unions (especially outlying and downstate) are very fearful of losing even more if they go on strike then if they “negotiate” cuts in pay and benefits. There is little or no sympathy from the general public for us, one store worker I talked to said “the state is spending $14 for every $10 it takes in, it can’t go on like this. Rauner is trying to do something about it, but the Democrats are holding everything up.” This is going to be a rough 4 years (or more), and we have targets on out backs.

  4. “Sarah Palin called it crony capitalism.” Sure that SHE doesn’t know what she’s talking about, either, Fred.
    “Democrats called for 800 more deals just like it.”
    I think you mean Dumbocrats. Or DINOs.

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