Greedy Teachers Union Must Be Opposed
As a public school teacher, I find myself increasingly angry and disgusted with the greedy union that controls my school and most other suburban public schools. While Illinois’ unemployment rate soars, household budgets tighten and mortgage foreclosures increase, the union is calling for more pain for the taxpayer.
The Illinois Education Association supports Governor Quinn’s call for a 50% increase in the state income tax but opposes any and all of the Governor’s proposed reforms of teacher pensions. Currently most public school teachers can retire as early as age 55 with a guaranteed lifetime benefit of roughly 75% of their previous annual salary. With many retiring teachers making well over $100,000 a year, this means many retirees will receive over two million dollars in lifetime benefits and some as much as three million dollars or more. These amounts are well beyond what the average teacher contributes to the pension fund and well beyond what the system can pay out without massive infusions of taxpayer dollars.
In addition, many so-called “retired” teachers deceptively take advantage of the system and double-dip by returning to work in other school systems or even returning as part-time substitutes in the same system while continuing to collect their full pensions.
Reform is urgently needed. Teachers themselves, not taxpayers, should fund teacher retirement benefits. If the union is going to insist on no changes in benefits, then currently-employed teachers should be required to contribute a greater percentage of their income to the pension fund. In addition, the retirement age should be increased to 60 or 65 to discourage pseudo-retirements and double dipping. As a long-term solution, new hires should be required to fund and take responsibility for their own retirements as most other people do through Individual Retirement Accounts. No one is owed a living.
On May 6th, many of the state’s public school teachers will be taking the day off work and descending on Springfield for the Illinois Education Association’s Lobby Day. State Senators and Representatives should ask these truant teachers, why they are not in their classrooms teaching, and what makes them think they are entitled to live at everyone else’s expense?
H.L. Richards High School
Oak Lawn, Illinois