I normally don’t get into the details of collective bargaining agreements.
First of all, I know how hard the process is for those on the union side of the table. It is mostly volunteer labor and it usually involves long hours. At the end there are always those who think you could have done better and got more.
How do I know? Because I have bargained on the union side more times than I can remember.
Another reason I don’t normally comment on the details of collective bargaining is that it is a democratic process. The members have a vote. If they don’t like the deal, it’s on them. I don’t have to work it.
Having said that, I got some calls this week from teachers in Evanston.
The newly bargained CBA has a clause that allows teachers to have up to one percent of their salary matched by the board if it is placed in a 403(b).
I am hearing that Evanston is not the only place where IEA (and maybe IFT locals) are bargaining this kind of a deal. I have been told that Oak Park River Forest has a similar arrangement.
So I am commenting because it seems to be a trend.
Matching 401(k)s is not unusual in the private sector. But this is a new trend in the public sector and in collective bargaining agreements.
And not a good one.
It is beyond a slippery slope.
The union can bargain special compensation for those in the bargaining unit based on what they do.
They should not bargain special benefits for a group of teachers based on who they are, on the fact that they have more or less money to save.
It is perfectly legitimate and a long-standing practice to bargain on behalf of a group of teachers within the bargaining unit for some benefit that may be preferential, such as a bump for those about to retire, or extra hours and compensation for those who teach special needs children. It is not okay to bargain on behalf of a group that is arbitrarily established, like those without kids in college or those without elderly parents at home and who have more or less discretionary income to place in a 403(b).
These are among the teachers who have written to me.
They have also written to the IEA and contacted lawyers.
I think they have a case to bring to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB).
The Evanston school board will report out to the community those matching 403(b) funds as part of the bargained package.
Yet, the money wasn’t the collective part of the agreement.
Those Evanston IEA members who object say those funds should have been part of the salary package offered to every member of the bargaining unit. It should have been part of their TRS pensionable compensation. It should not be compensation available to only those who can afford to bank it.
It violates the basic principle of collective bargaining, they say. It’s what Governor Rauner has been pushing for.
It’s not my contract. So maybe it’s not my business.
That doesn’t make it a good idea.