Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Consistent Incompetence and Hubris of the Illinois Education Association Leadership

It was under the IEA leadership and agreement of Bob Haisman when the flawed “Pension Ramp” (Public Act 88-0593) was signed into law in 1995. It was later discovered that "the Statutory Funding Plan's contribution schedule increased the unfunded liability, underfunded the State's pension obligations, and deferred pension funding. The resulting underfunding of the pension systems enabled the State to shift the burden associated with its pension costs to the future and, as a result, created a significant financial stress and risks for the State..." (In re Pension Reform Litigation (Doris Heaton et al., Appellees v. Pat Quinn, Governor, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants)). 

It was under the IEA leadership and agreement of Ken Swanson when SB 1946 passed on March 24, 2010 in approximately 10 hours, a senate bill where Tier II members would begin subsidizing both Tier I and Tier II benefits, where the state would eventually not owe any annual contribution to TRS because the Tier II members would be paying down the entire cost, where Tier II members will receive a TRS pension that will be less than Social Security, and where school districts will be responsible for making up the difference. 

It was the IEA leadership of Ken Swanson and Cinda Klickna that “proudly supported” Senate Bill 7 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 also required an authorization of 75% for a strike vote in Chicago, to name just a few complications that confront today's teachers.

It was on July, 2, 2012 when Fred Klonsky, John Dillon, Michael Cousineau, Catherine Lenzini, and I met with Cinda Klickna and other IEA leaders to discuss our concerns about the IEA's willingness to negotiate teachers' and retirees' constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits and rights. Of course, the IEA leadership did not heed our advice. 

Instead, 10 months later we witnessed the folly of the IEA leadership's agreement to a reduction of pension retirees’ benefits and rights in Senate Bill 2404 in May, 2013.  The IEA leadership believed SB 2404 would have thwarted any further attacks on the Pension Protection Clause. Fortunately, Michael Madigan never called for a vote on this bill.  What soon followed, however, was Michael Madigan’s Senate Bill 1 in December 2013, another diminishment and impairment of teachers’ and retirees’ constitutionally-guaranteed benefits. Senate Bill 1 was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court on May 8, 2015.

It is the current IEA leadership under Kathi Griffin that recently endorsed candidates, such as Michael Connelly, Don Harmon, Sue Rezin and others, who had voted to diminish and impair teachers’ and retirees’ pension benefits.

It is the current IEA leadership of Kathi Griffin that recently stated: "...It’s refreshing to have a governor not only focused on what is best for students and Illinois’ future, but who is willing to work collaboratively to get the best results... We applaud Gov. Pritzker for looking at various funding sources because funding has to play a role in the future he’s building for Illinois. A starving state cannot grow. And, we find the Governor’s pension proposal an interesting start to the conversation..." Both the Illinois Retired Teachers’ Association and the Teachers’ Retirement Association have emphatically disagreed with Pritzker's proposed state budget.  

-Glen Brown

1 comment:

  1. For the record, I am voting for Doug Strand for TRS Annuitant Trustee and not Cinda Klickna.