Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Response from a Retired Delegate to the IEA-RA Representative Assembly: I am saddened...

Re: IEA-NEA Proposed legislative Platform Amendment #2, April 17, 2015 

The Association also remains opposed to any unconstitutional changes to the laws governing retirement benefits that diminish or impair current members’ benefits. However, the Association supports any proposal that otherwise creates fair, practical, and constitutional solutions which sustain the long term viability of the pension systems. 

Proposed Language Changes to the above Decree: 

The Association opposes any diminishment or impairment of the pension benefits for current and future members.  

Rationale for the one sentence revision (submitted by ShiAnne Shively and seconded by Tim Allaire): 

Senate Bill 1 is currently in the courts and hopefully will be ruled as unconstitutional. This change removes any ambiguity and clarifies what the IEA will oppose.

Unfortunately, the proposed changes to the wording was struck down by the majority of delegates of the IEA-RA Assembly (and to the delight of the IEA president) without thorough discussion.

I agreed with the proposed changes to the language and spoke to the Representative Assembly, hoping the IEA leadership had a comprehensive plan already in place to address the next wave of attacks on our defined-benefit pension plan, regardless of the Illinois Supreme Court ruling:

We know Illinois politicians will continue to ignore legal and moral solutions for the state’s budget problems and pension debt, and they will continue their assaults on the Pension Protection Clause, no matter what the Illinois Supreme Court decides.

Never before has there been a need for dynamic leadership with a determination to build the rank-and-file’s collective capacity to resist then there is now.

I urge the Association to be fully prepared to oppose House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 9, a constitutional amendment meant to subvert our only retirement plan. I urge the Association to be fully prepared to oppose any transferring of the normal costs to the pension system to local school districts (HB 429, SB 72). I urge the Association to be fully prepared to oppose a Tier III pension plan for new teachers (HB 134). I also urge the Association to be absolutely prepared to defend our pension benefits and rights without apologies, without concessions, and without compromise. 

I would have also said to the Representative Assembly:

Let us remember the flawed “Pension Ramp” (Public Act 88-0593) signed into law in 1995 that exacerbated the unfunded liability. Let us remember a previous IEA leadership supported Public Act 88-0593. 

Let us remember that the current IEA leadership “proudly supported” Senate Bill 7 that was 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 required an authorization of 75% for a strike vote in Chicago, to name just a few complications that confront today's teachers.

Let us remember the current IEA leadership proposed Senate Bill 2404 in May, 2013: “A unilateral reduction of pension rights [that might have been deemed] unconstitutional, even if coupled with equally unilateral benefits that the [Labor Coalition] imagines retired and active public employees might theoretically find desirable (4)…” (Gino L. DiVito, John M. Fitzgerald, and Katherine M. O’Brien of Tabet, DiVito & Rothstein LLC, Constitutional Issues Concerning Legislative Pension Reform Proposals).  

Let us remember the IEA leadership had agreed to diminish and impair current teachers’ and retirees’ constitutionally-guaranteed benefits that had been protected by previous Illinois Supreme Court rulings. (The IEA does not represent the majority of retirees). The IEA leadership believed SB 2404 would thwart any further attacks on our Pension Protection Clause.

Though forgetfulness is a cousin to naivety, it took a calculated political manipulation by an ex-IEA president against the proposed legislative platform amendment, the IEA members' failure to remember any of the aforementioned IEA supported agreements in the past, and an outright fabrication by the IEA's lawyer meant to instill fear and doubt to make sure the majority of the IEA delegates voted against the new unequivocal language that was proposed in amendment #2.

I am saddened that the IEA leadership has created such an acquiescent provincialism. I am saddened that the IEA leadership avoids challenges to their authority and critical discussion. I am saddened that current teachers have lost so much already in these past few years and will lose even more in the future.

There should never be any negotiation of our constitutionally-guaranteed benefits with an Illinois General Assembly that has proven over and over again they will not negotiate to “create fair, practical, and constitutional solutions.” We already have the definitive “fair, practical, and constitutional solution” in place for us. It’s called the Pension Protection Clause, and it has always been and should remain non-negotiable.

Glen Brown 


What the IEA never talked about at the Representative Assembly were strategies for after the Supreme Court ruling -- no plan on how to proceed in protecting our pensions again and battling the privatization of public schools; no discussion about pushing the issue of a progressive income tax again or preventing the possibility of the state transferring the normal costs (to pensions) to school districts; no strategies were debated for dealing with a despotic governor and his right-to-work agenda and vehement attacks on unions; no thoughts about promoting a progressive candidate early on for governor in the next election to avoid supporting another ALEC candidate and a politician who signed the so-called pension reform bill; no tactics were discussed for engaging the many liars and thieves of the Illinois General Assembly, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Civic Federation, the Illinois Policy Institute, and the media...

"Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class struggle and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools. The social demands of unions early in the twentieth century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour day, and Social Security have been abandoned” (Chris Hedges). 

Please also read my dear friend's The Sad State of the IEA


  1. from Fred Klonsky’s blog:

    “...Why was the substitute [amendment] language important? Because the IEA leadership had used the ‘however,’ to bargain SB 2404. That senate bill was the defensive maneuver that they had hoped would derail the more draconian SB 1. That strategy was wrong on two counts: It still diminished benefits that were protected under the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution. And it failed anyway.

    “Many of us wrote and spoke up at the time that this was a wrong strategy. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association refused to go along with it and were blasted by IEA leadership. A high-level staffer in the IEA confided to me this weekend that if they had known the courts were going to rule as they did in their Kanerva decision, the IEA would never have pushed for SB2404.

    “In Kanerva the court ruled that state retirement health care benefits were protected under the pension protection clause and turned away the very arguments that the state argued in defense of SB1. It is clear that the IEA leadership will never admit, before the delegates and their members, that they were wrong about SB2404…”

  2. from John Dillon's Blog:

    Who's Got Your Back? IEA?

    “When I lost my bid to be an IEA – Retired Representative a few months ago, I wasn’t surprised. My good friend and fellow blogger Glen Brown was successful in his bid, as was our friend Fred Klonsky. Fred is more than a blogger; he’s a force for progressive reform on all fronts. Glen has been a stalwart defender of our constitutional pension promises since the day he began retirement – no fishing, little traveling. Just ongoing battle using his keen mind and a moral position.

    “If you’ve read their blogs, you also know that their arguments include concerns for active teachers as well as future educators – not just those who got out before SB1/Rauner/SB2404/PARCC/Arne Duncan/Pat Quinn/Pearson/Charters/Tier 2/ forced 401K’s.… When they confront something wrong-headed, they don’t sit back quietly. You’d expect that, and you’d expect they’d attend the IEA assembly to represent all of us – retired and active and future.

    “But you might not expect the kind of equivocation and political slipperiness they’re both reporting this morning, after the IEA Representative Assembly this week…”

  3. Over a month later, and this direct account of what does and doesn't get addressed by IEA leadership sticks in my mind. Posturing union elected officials acting like leaders while actually non-leading - for the safeguarding of their own union positions rather than serving the needs of union members. They have become the politicians of the union. Self-serving and self perpetuating parasites.
    Membership does and will have a tough time until actual leaders arrest power and position in IEA. Whoever attempts this will suffer the same forms of political mudslinging (anti-Americans, radicals, anti-unionists, anarchists, troublemakers, etc.) that Illinois democrat and republican legislators engage in.
    We have our work cut out for us. These union-politicos are causing havoc to our unions while wrapping themselves in our IEA banner.
    "There should never be any negotiation of our constitutionally-guaranteed benefits."

    1. Well said, and unfortunately so true. Thank you to those people who are paying attention and working so hard for our pension. I always enjoy reading people's comments after all news articles...and I always wonder why there are so few comments after Glen Brown's articles. Is anyone listening or paying attention? ps. I am one of the unfortunate recent retirees living with less because of gpo/wep. I can tell you this: teachers STILL DONT KNOW about gpo/wep until it happens to them!