Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Illinois Federation of Teachers Calls on the Teachers Retirement System Director to Resign


Statement by the Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery

Since 1939, the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS) has done a tremendous public service in stewarding and safeguarding the life savings of the state’s teachers. The state benefits from a system where teachers--who do not collect Social Security--can avoid poverty in retirement. But, once again, the current executive director of TRS, Dick Ingram, has announced his personal views about diminishing key benefits for existing workers and retirees.
In an interview with Crain’s Chicago Business last week, Ingram focused his remarks, as he did in April, 2012, on reducing cost of living adjustments (COLAs). It is inappropriate for Mr. Ingram, who is responsible for safeguarding the retirement benefits of 360,000 teachers, to promote his personal views by advocating for the destruction of TRS members’ retirement security. Such actions contradict his fiduciary duty and are in violation of a resolution passed by the TRS Board of Trustees. Mr. Ingram’s insubordinate and irresponsible actions can only result in one honorable outcome—his resignation.
Mr. Ingram fails to mention in his many interviews that teachers in the system have already paid for the cost of living benefits he wants to cut—their payments are built into the contribution calculations they are required to make in every paycheck. In addition, it seems not to matter to Mr. Ingram that the Illinois Constitution expressly forbids the benefit cuts he finds so attractive. Mr. Ingram says the Constitution is “unfortunate.” We say it is just and fair.
Mr. Ingram may think that he can mislead the members of the TRS Board of Trustees into believing that his remarks do not violate their fiduciary responsibility or their own resolutions regarding TRS advocacy. We have more faith in the board members than that.
Mr. Ingram would like the public and other unions to believe his comments are merely an intellectual exercise and are not meant to promote his own preferred solutions to the pension crisis. To this we say, “We will not be fooled.” The Teachers Retirement System must work for its members, not the politicians, corporate executives, or newspapers its leaders may be bullied by.
When the fox is guarding the hen house, it is the fox that must go. Mr. Ingram has lost the trust of those he is employed to protect. He should resign from his position as TRS executive director.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I admit it, I'm proud to be in the IFT today. Dan's point about the COLA already being in the calculation is excellent. It's a benefit that's already in the math underneath the TRS's annual certified state payment. I second the motion, as well. If Dick Ingram wants to make statements that have to be walked back and clarified and revised and put into a different context, then he's either incompetent or lying. The man is running a $37b operation-- clear communications and unimpeachable intentions are a basic requirement.

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