“If we have learned anything about dealing with politicians is that they will look for any crack to take what is ours.”

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-By Hugh. Hugh is a frequent and informed writer of comments to this blog.

I really knew very little about the Teachers Health Insurance Program before reading about what happened to retired city workers on Fred’s blog. I decided to take a look at The State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971 (as amended in 1995) Interesting reading.

Reflecting back on what I read, as well as what thought I knew about retiree insurance benefits, here are some short takes. They could mean something or nothing. I’m no expert.

First: Fred is absolutely right. Retiree health insurance was never intended to be a “pension” benefit when it was created. It is right in the law. How Kanerva might affect that is unclear as far as teachers are concerned.

The law was intended to create an ongoing subsidized benefit of health care insurance for retired teachers (among several other things). Unlike most other insurance programs that this law provides, most of the cost for retired teacher health insurance is paid by active teachers and retirees (75% or so) with the state contribution capped at 24%.

The subsidy is paid out of a special fund (similar to the T.R.S. Pension fund), not out of the state treasury. The state, active teachers, and retirees all contribute to the fund. The fund pays the subsidies.

I believe (but do not know for sure) that there is a continuing resolution for this contribution to T.H.I.S. The Governor or the General Assembly may or may not put that contribution in the budget, but unlike with other state insurance, they cannot claim the money was not appropriated.

That seems to be one big difference from the situation with A.S.F.C.M.E.’s insurance subsidies, administered by a government entity and paid for out of the treasury.

No termination dates are listed in the law. The benefit for teachers looks to be an individual retiree’s property. This is different than retiree benefits negotiated by unions as a group for their members. That is a big part of the issue with city workers.

I suspect part of the the reason why Governor Rauner and company backed off on their attempt to not budget teacher health insurance subsidies was because it would cost more to end them than to keep them. More in dollars, litigation and public relations.

The benefit is mostly paid for by teachers and retirees. not the state. It has it’s own trust fund. The legislative intent was clearly stated in the law. There could be problems with the contracts clause of both the federal and state Constitutions, Kanerva notwithstanding. Lots of possible problems to eliminate a program now doing what the Governor claims to want A.F.C.S.M.E. to do.

Watchful waiting seems to be in order for teacher retirees, as well as support for our colleagues who’s benefits are now under attack. If we have learned anything about dealing with politicians is that they will look for any crack to take what is ours. Harm to one is harm to all. Be vigilant.

City workers that not only built and maintained this city are now being treated as dirt.

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-I haven’t heard from Pasqual LoPresti in a while. Today he shares his views on Mayor Rahm’s decision to raise the cost of health care for retired city workers. Pasqual is a retired Chicago Streets and Sanitation worker and union member.

Please excuse me for taking time to respond to your exposing Bill Daley as being part in this plot of grand theft of retirees and survivors. I can see his dad’s face right now watching his 2 sons and 1 adopted nephew of his son Richie 2, called TUTU flushed in angry red for screwing over his loyal machine army. These very City Workers that not only built and maintained this City are now being treated as dirt. These were the Ol’ Man’s people.

Even the Zombied citizens are fast to blame us rich city retirees for this whole mess but fail to realize it was Richie 2 that started to take down this city and his nephew TUTU carries it on.

I had a feeling something was ready to explode because a week after our last court case we had a set back on Aug 21st, not a mention or peep from the media. I had warned all on the site City Workers I smelled skunk. Even TUTU was quiet and that’s a so called man that pounds his lil’ chest and squeals in his Tarzan mousy voice if he stomps an ant or bare handedly breaks a tooth pic. It was like that for a month until this pops up – the theft of our health care.

Oh, and did they ever go for the throats on this. But yet the Feds lay back and are fine with this too.

We are not the 6 figure pensioners that the media says we are. By the City’s lawyers own admission on the average a city retiree is grossing (not shitty hall math) 44,000 per year

Now minus tax of 15%  – 37,400 per year net minus health care: $31,320.

Don’t forget many of us weren’t allowed to pay Social Security and Medicare.

Rent gas electric food etc from $506 per month left to live on.

 And let’s take this down to survivors income of 1/2 pensions.

Our health care costs has increased from $700 per month for 2 non-Medicare to $2610 per month since 2013. And none of these are typos nor shitty hall math but are facts.

And all the while the 1%ers get fatter, the Daley family rakes in a cut, yet on everything and our own little ballerina prances. Also the man I was so proud of that rose up to become our leader wound up shaming me and others by standing up for this chooch on 5 while so many suffer hardships because of his greed. He stole our American Dream just to stay mellow and watch our grandchildren grow in peace.

To the people of Chicago, the City I was so proud to care for and maintain in every way imaginable at all times. Thank you for turning on us. Like Ditka would say “WE WERE THE GRAWBOWSKIs” We cherished our City. That now shames us on the world news every day. This is your man and he will rob you too !

Our own pension board and union 1001 laborers fought against us retirees and survivors in court and even the current work force that started working pre 2011. Oh yes they screwed us all and the currents still have to pay them dues and 1001 in turn gave TUTU 100 GRAND FOR THE LAST ELECTION. Our union at one time was like your CTU, they worked for their membership.

Ms Lewis is a throw back to those days and shares her heart with the union leaders of the past. Like I’ve said on Fred’s site before: Teachers appreciate what you have in your union because someday it may not be there. I support you people and ask all my brothers and sisters on our site of City Workers Present and Past to do the same and if I may, a special thanks to Mr Oscar Ortiz for all he has done for both our memberships. Stay strong my friends, for the day will approach to where we can flush the SHIT FROM OUR STREETS !

Sunday chowdah.

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Keith Lamont Scott and family.

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I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country.  But your children and mine will be.  And their children.  And their children’s children.

All of us still yearn to remain free. It is what we stand for as a country.  I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change.  In our democracy, the decision to remain free is ours to make.

My 100th birthday is exactly one month and one day after the next presidential election. I’d like to celebrate it by blowing out the candles on my cake, then whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

As my beloved friend Lauren Bacall once said, “You know how to whistle don’t you?  You just put your lips together and blow.”  Kirk Douglas

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(Will) Guzzardi, who is a Chicago Democrat, says if Illinois taxed wealthy people and profitable corporations at higher rates the state could bring in enough money to do this, while also erasing the deficit.

“I think if we’re going to ask the taxpayer to contribute more in order to fix this current budget crisis — we’re going to have to ask the taxpayers to contribute more. And if we’re going to do that, we need to be able to say: Here’s what you’re going to get in exchange,” he said.

Guzzardi says he’ll travel to campuses around the state this fall to promote the idea. NPR

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National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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A blue-ribbon commission had just excoriated Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks for fueling the financial crisis. Prosecutors were investigating whether Goldman had misled investors. The company was a whipping boy for politicians looking to lay blame for the crash.

But in spring of 2011, Lloyd C. Blankfein, leading one of the nation’s most reviled companies, found himself onstage with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one of the nation’s most admired public figures at the time. And Mrs. Clinton had come to praise Goldman Sachs.

The State Department, Mrs. Clinton announced that day in an auditorium in its Foggy Bottom headquarters, would throw its weight behind a Goldman philanthropic initiative aimed at encouraging female entrepreneurs around the world — a program Goldman viewed as central to rehabilitating its reputation. NY Times

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Recent polls show deep allegiance to the Republican nominee by majorities of white non-college educated voters of both genders, many of them blue-collar workers who’ve traditionally supported Democrats. Then there are union women like Geanangel, who helped build Pittsburgh’s airport and Three Rivers Stadium, feeling the same angst about plant closures and wage stagnation as male colleagues but seeing more help from a Clinton White House.

In the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin, 76 percent of women in the AFL-CIO plan to vote for Clinton, while 62 percent of men do, according to a recent poll by the union. That may be a small club, but it’s viewed by Democrats as a very powerful one — especially in a race being waged on the margins.

“Women are more activist than men,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, “and understand that Clinton supports collective bargaining, raising the minimum wage and paid time off for illness and family care.” Bloomberg

Keeping retirement weird. Rahm screws city retirees on their health care.

 

A note from Jack Retired Water:

Fred, very sorry to hear about your friend. Speaking to that matter of health insurance the city of Chicago is dropping all retirees at end of year. They are offering a private bc/bs policy for a non medicare annuitant and spouse at 2600 a month. For some this could be entire paycheck.

Here is the skinny.

The City of Chicago is offering exactly zero dollars to city retirees to help subsidize health care.

Zero.

Members of all four retirement plans will have to come up with $1400 for single coverage, $2600 for couples and $3600 for family coverage.

A month.

No subsidies.

I am told that the city never shopped it around to any other providers other than Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Why should it?

Bill Daley sits on the board of Blue Cross/Blue shield which is the only provider the city is offering retirees. (Note: I cannot confirm that Daley sits on the BCBS board).

Rahm’s folks will send out letters to city retirees saying they are canceling their insurance and then will send out another letter saying they can OPT in for this insurance at those rates.

 At rates no typical retired city employee can afford.

 

“A very good friend of mine (retired teacher, no Medicare) died on 26 August.”

Hello, Fred.

You won’t remember me , but we met at a couple of the NEA national conventions.

This issue of the 500 infuriates me, for a very personal reason.

Feel free to share the information.

A very good friend of mine (retired teacher, no Medicare) died on 26 August.

She had been to a specialist in June to discuss a colostomy. That doctor recommended the procedure. However, he was not in the HMO , and she did not have the $50,000 cash to pay for it. Even after explaining how serious her condition was, the soonest she could get an appointment was 8 September. She didn’t live that long.

Honestly, I cannot say that the colostomy would have solved her problems, because she faced several issues- however, at the least her quality of life would gave been greatly improved, and at the most, the operation may have saved her life. She never had the opportunity to find out.

The fact that the IEA had the chance to address this insurance issue and chose not to do so is sickening. (You reported this in an earlier blog-I certainly never heard about this in any IEA publication).

I intend to contact the IEA and ask them to reconsider its position in this matter. I truly hope we don’t need to stand by and watch the remaining teachers in this situation die, one by one, while we have it in our power to help even one.

Thanks for all you do on behalf of students and teachers in our state, Fred.

Frank Marks, retired teacher

The non-Medicare eligible 500. And shrinking.

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My 39th State Representative Will Guzzardi.

There was Jeri Shanahan’s name on my iPhone when it rang yesterday.

If you read this blog you know Jeri.

She is the retired teacher who retired too long ago to qualify for Medicare.

Here is what I wrote in August.

Ms Shanahan is a retired Illinois teacher who is not Medicare eligible. According to the law she doesn’t qualify for Medicare because she retired too many years ago.

If she moved to Arizona or Florida she would pay half of what she pays for health insurance. She chooses to remain in Illinois, so she gets socked.

A bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature to address this situation that impacts maybe 500 retired very elderly teachers.

Ms Shanahan told me the bill failed. It had either the opposition or no support by the IFT and the IEA. Ms Shanahan wasn’t sure and I couldn’t find out.

The position of the IEA and other organizations that represent teacher retirees seems to be that since this is only an issue that impacts less than 500 teachers in the state, they have to be concerned with the majority.

“What if I said that about my students when I was teaching?” Ms Shanahan said to me on the phone yesterday. “What if I said I could only be concerned with the majority of students and not with the ones with special needs?”

“Good point,” I said.

Last August I sent my post and a Trib article about the issue to my state representative, Will Guzzardi. He wrote me back saying he would sign on to legislation in the coming session.

“I talked with Will’s office,” Ms Shanahan told me. “They were so polite. They listened to everything I said and promised to work on it.”

She called him “Will. ” I know Guzzardi genuinely likes that.

Anyway. Ms Shanahan was just checking in.

But we spoke frankly about what is really happening here. The numbers of those in her situation are declining through attrition. That’s a polite way of saying they are dying.

That’s what the union leadership is saying when they talk about the needs of the majority.

One IEA Retired leader reacted by telling Ms Shanahan to go get a job to meet the required quarters to qualify for Medicare. I’m not going to ask Jeri Shanahan’s age. But trust me. She’s not getting a job.

There were 600 retired teachers affected when I first heard from Jeri Shanahan about this.

There are less than 500 now.

It’s a waiting game when it comes to old folks.

We don’t last forever.