Yesterday I posted a brief response to Crain’s Chicago Business and their pension forum.
On Thursday, former IEA President and former member of the Teacher Retirement System, Cinda Klickna, wrote an opinion piece for the Illinois Times.
Klickna correctly identified a problem: The state’s continued shorting of the pension systems.
It was Cinda Klickna, who as a member of the Teacher Retirement System board of trustees representing the Illinois Education Association gave her blessing to a two year pension holiday by the state when payments were not made.
It was under the IEA leadership and agreement of Bob Haisman when the flawed “Pension Ramp” (Public Act 88-0593) was signed into law in 1995. It was later discovered that “the Statutory Funding Plan’s contribution schedule increased the unfunded liability, underfunded the State’s pension obligations, and deferred pension funding. The resulting underfunding of the pension systems enabled the State to shift the burden associated with its pension costs to the future and, as a result, created a significant financial stress and risks for the State…” (In re Pension Reform Litigation (Doris Heaton et al., Appellees v. Pat Quinn, Governor, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants)).
It was under the IEA leadership and agreement of Ken Swanson when SB 1946 passed on March 24, 2010 in approximately 10 hours, a senate bill where Tier II members would begin subsidizing both Tier I and Tier II benefits, where the state would eventually not owe any annual contribution to TRS because the Tier II members would be paying down the entire cost, where Tier II members will receive a TRS pension that will be less than Social Security, and where school districts will be responsible for making up the difference.
It was the IEA leadership of Ken Swanson and Cinda Klickna that “proudly supported” Senate Bill 7 signed into law in June 2011, the bill that ensured that teachers’ evaluations and their tenure were tied to the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (Public Act 96-0861), the bill that ensured a so-called “streamlined process for the dismissal of teacher tenure,” the bill that also required an authorization of 75% for a strike vote in Chicago, to name just a few complications that confront today’s teachers.
It was on July, 2, 2012 when Fred Klonsky, John Dillon, Michael Cousineau, Catherine Lenzini, and I met with Cinda Klickna and other IEA leaders to discuss our concerns about the IEA’s willingness to negotiate teachers’ and retirees’ constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits and rights. Of course, the IEA leadership did not heed our advice.
Instead, 10 months later we witnessed the folly of the IEA leadership’s agreement to a reduction of pension retirees’ benefits and rights in Senate Bill 2404in May, 2013. The IEA leadership believed SB 2404 would have thwarted any further attacks on the Pension Protection Clause. Fortunately, Michael Madigan never called for a vote on this bill. What soon followed, however, was Michael Madigan’s Senate Bill 1 in December 2013, another diminishment and impairment of teachers’ and retirees’ constitutionally-guaranteed benefits. Senate Bill 1 was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court on May 8, 2015.
Teacher retirees have not forgotten these acts of betrayal by the state’s teacher union leadership.
It is a betrayal of teacher retirees that has gone on for decades.
When Klickna recently tried to grab a seat representing retired teachers on the TRS board, her attempt was soundly defeated in spite of an expensive full-court press by the IEA.