I don’t buy the story that Mayor Lightfoot is Rahm 2.0, plus I supported the teachers and the CTU’s strike demands.
Under their new contract, Chicago Teachers Union members would be able to accrue more than six times as many unused sick days as before.
The tentative agreement reached Thursday between the city, Chicago Public Schools and the CTU allows union members to bank 244 sick days, up from 40.
That’s more than enough days to cover an entire school year — an increase that could allow a longtime employee to retire a year early and still receive their full pension.
The 40-day cap was the result of 2012 contract negotiations following scrutiny of a policy that allowed employees to cash out up to 325 sick days at retirement, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in payout to employees when they retired.
Without getting too weedy, I want to share a few facts about sick days and pensions.
After all, I am the pension guru.
While sick days are a cost calculated as part of the teachers financial package, they are not a real cost until they are used. The cost to the district is the added cost of a sub. The ability to accumulate days saves the district money.
With the previous 40 day cap, teachers were more likely to use sick days rather than lose them, costing the district money.
While most public school teachers in Illinois pay 9% towards their pensions, some Chicago teachers pay 2% as a result of an earlier contract agreement.
But, it was instead of a salary increase, something the IPI doesn’t bother to mention.
If public school teachers had Social Security instead of a teacher pension, they would only pay 6% and districts, the state and CPS could not have evaded making their retirement contributions.
Which they did.
Seventy percent of the cost of public pensions is interest on the debt, not as the benefit to the employee.
Teachers retiring two years early is another cost saving to the district. Veteran teachers, although worth every penny, are paid a higher salary. Retiring a year or two early allows the district to hire younger, lower paid teachers.
The state’s teachers outside of Chicago can already accumulate 340 sick days and use them as pensionable credit.
But one or two years of pensionable sick days added to the normal costs of the pensions systems is a relatively small amount
And this gets to the crux of the matter.
“When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says ‘there’s no more money’ to give away to end the CTU strike, she’s right. Pensions are the main reason why,” says the IPI.
The IPI is wrong.
As I wrote yesterday, the reason why is that the state and legislators in Springfield have not met their responsibility to adequately fund either the schools or the pensions.