Illinois Federation of Teachers

Illinois Issues: The Next Pension Time Bomb

Jul 2, 2015

Illinois has more than $100 billion in pension debt. So far, attempts to fix it have been mostly illegal.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Public school teachers and their unions may be next, as Gov. Bruce Rauner seeks to loosen requirements on collective bargaining dues.

The vast majority of state employees are unionized. But even those who choose not to join still have to pay what are known as "fair share" dues. That's basically a fee to cover the work unions do to benefit all workers, members and non-members alike. Things like wage hikes, and health care coverage that unions secure in negotiations. But Gov. Rauner alleges the money's also used for political advocacy.

uis.edu

Faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield will be unionized for the first time in two decades. 

The campus last had a faculty union when it was known as Sangamon State University.  But that was disbanded when it became part of the University of Illinois in the mid 90's.  

137 faculty members voted in favor of a new union which will negotiate issues from wages and benefits to shared governance.  A final vote total was unavailable.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

Who Illinois voters choose to be their next governor could make a big difference in how Illinois funds schools, and even where students can go to get an education.

Quinn's agenda seems to leave things basically as-is; taxpayer dollars flow to public schools:

"I believe that the public system of education is the best way to go," Quinn told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board last week.

Not that he has much personal experience in the system.

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner outlined an education reform plan Monday that touched on teacher merit pay, overhauling
tenure and changing the state's school funding formal, but the proposal didn't contain specifics on what exactly he would change or how he would accomplish
them.
 
 The venture capitalist said his ideas would help create ``world class schools''
and he vowed to increase school funding in the first year if he wins office
without raising the income tax or property taxes. He said he wanted to change

  Governor Pat Quinn now has the support of the two statewide teachers unions. The Illinois Federation of Teachers endorsed Quinn Wednesday despite the union's opposition to Quinn's ideas for pension changes.

The IFT is one of the groups suing Quinn for the pension overhaul law passed late last year that would reduce public employee benefits, including those for teachers.

But the union's president, Dan Montgomery, says the election is bigger than the ongoing lawsuit.

Speaker Michael Madigan
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The Illinois General Assembly approved sweeping cuts to state employee pensions Tuesday. The move comes after years of stalemate over how to address a hundred-billion dollar liability — the worst-funded pension plans of any state.

npr.org

Illinois unions are working to squelch a plan aimed at
solving the state's $100 billion pension problem hours before an expected vote.
 
Members of the ``We Are One Coalition'' representing major state unions told a
bipartisan legislative panel Tuesday morning that the $160 billion savings plan
is unfair to retirees.
 
Dan Montgomery of the Illinois Federation of Teachers says there is ``no
victory in a public policy that will not work.'' He says adjustments to cost of