It has been just a few days since the Chicago Tribune embarrassed itself by publishing the ghoulish op-ed by Kristen McQueary which called for a devastating natural disaster like Katrina to hit Chicago.
Only “water gushing through manhole covers” could bring school reform to our city wrote McQueary, praising the privatization of New Orleans schools that followed Hurricane Katrina.
This morning they publish another one of their patented bull poop articles on teacher pensions, claiming a district’s pension pick-up is a “perk.”
They write that this perk is “little noticed.”
That’s because to most observers of collective bargaining agreements between labor and management it is not normally considered a perk to receive compensation for your work.
A point about the contract language: If someone were to read the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Park Ridge board of education and the Park Ridge Education Association (of which I was a member for 30 years) it says, “the Board shall pick-up the teacher’s required contribution to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS).”
What does this mean?
It means that the board will take the 9.4% our of our check and send it to TRS. We paid the entire amount but the board transferred the money. That is all that they did. It was nothing more than an electronic transfer of our money so that we didn’t have to mail in a check to TRS ourselves.
Yet someone might read that and think the board paid our contribution. They would think wrong.
Are there districts in Illinois that pay all or a share of the teacher contribution?
In the course of negotiations both sides of the table understand that there is a finite amount of money to be bargained. How that money is divided up is what the bargaining is about.
Some goes directly to salary. Some goes to benefits such as health insurance. Some goes to pension payments.
If you look at collective bargaining agreements between teachers and school boards state-wide you will see that some are heavily weighted towards salaries. Others are weighted more strongly to the benefit side.
It’s all bargained compensation.
Compensation is not a perk.
No matter what the Trib thinks.