Unions notch win in deep-red Missouri with rejection of right-to-work law
The irony is that while unions in Missouri beat back right-to-work legislation in a popular election, Illinois is facing stealth right-to-work creep by undermining local bargaining rights and passing teacher salary caps.
When the Democratic legislature and Governor Rauner finally agreed on a full year state budget last Spring for the first time since Rauner was elected, they included a salary cap of 3% on teachers.
The Democrats, when pressed, explained that they needed something to get Republicans on board.
Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was teacher salaries.
There is nothing that gives Republicans a boner more than the opportunity to screw public school teachers.
But, folks, this is right-to-work wine in a different bottle.
Again, if pressed, Democrats will refer to the wage restriction as a pension cost shift.
This is more than a semantic difference.
Both the Governor and Speaker Madigan have advocated shifting the cost of pensions from the state to the local school districts for years.
That is what is meant by a pension cost shift.
With so many of the state’s school districts on financial watch, such a plan would be devastating to education programs and school quality.
But the 3% salary cap is something quite different than a pension cost shift. Democrats will tell us that by limiting pensionable wages to 3%, the local district will then have to pay the actuarial cost of any pensions based on raises over the cap. They say that makes it a pension cost shift.
That won’t happen. Union bargaining teams will be sitting at the table with one arm tied behind their backs. They will try to get a cost of living adjustment over 3%, but good luck with that. The board will respond that the penalty of paying the actuarial cost of each teacher pension will be a budget buster.
And it most cases, they will be right. The actuarial cost is the cost of the pension for the life of the teacher.
By the way, the rate of inflation is already knocking on the door of 3%. Cost of living increases that don’t exceed 3% will be a loss of real dollars to employees.
Teachers took to the streets last year in right-to-work red states where local bargaining is against the law and the legislature determines teacher salaries and benefits.
But how is that different than what happened in Illinois when Republicans and Democrats in the legislature joined together and established a salary limit on the state’s teachers?
They may claim they acted to prevent what they call pension spikes. That is the practice of increasing salaries in the final four years to boost pension payments.
But pension spiking is a myth. There has been a limit on so-called pension spikes for years.
I will go into why limiting end-of-the-year retirement incentives was a dumb idea in the first place in a future post.
The state’s unions have been asking for the legislature to reverse the wage limits. Nothing will happen until after the November elections.
But it seems to me that there is a deafening silence on this issue, even among progressive legislators. Maybe it would have been better for the legislature to have passed right-to-work outright. Then, like in Missouri, the voters would have risen up and rejected it.
In Illinois it is slow, stealth right-to-work creep and they are hoping nobody notices.