Pat Hermann questions the IEA’s present behavior regarding bargaining the constitutionally guaranteed rights of teachers and retirees

The Illinois Education Association has sent signals to the state legislators that on behalf of its members the IEA is willing to make a new deal and grant an additional 2% of current teachers’ incomes (from the present 9.4% to 11.4% of gross) and consider reductions in cost-of-living increases for those teachers who are already retired. Many other offers that might endanger the future status of our constitutionally protected rights to active and retired teacher pensions, which may not be “diminished or impaired,” are being reconsidered by the IEA leadership. Union leadership under IEA President Cinda Klickna claims that membership is demanding this from her. However, Klickna refuses to disclose the verifiable source of these supposed membership demands. – Ken


Pat Hermann explains the present situation clearly for all to comprehend. She is a retired teacher highly admired for her teaching skills in addition to her lengthy and superb support of the past IEA and all of Illinois’ teachers.

What we need is a union that is going to stand up for us and not solve the “pension” problem on the backs of public employees. We already have enemies such as the Commercial Club and those fat cats, we don’t need our own union to be another force we have to fight against.

Why would we doubt them? Because they already sold out to corporate forces a couple of years ago in favoring Illinois legislation attacking teacher tenure including evaluation systems that are used to set up teachers for failure.

And retired teachers who have been active in negotiations at the local level are also aware of sell-out incidents such as the time a chief negotiator and local president approved a settlement right in front of the rest of the negotiating team that no one had ever seen. This local told the members the members didn’t support the negotiating team (the local leadership never asked members to show support) so they had to accept it, and later she married the superintendent… classic sell out. The only hint the rest of the negotiating team and the rest of the members had was the warning of a custodian that the person who was their leader was meeting behind the scenes with the superintendent. We all have our war stories. The red flags here are the prior sell-out, no real push for support from the leadership, and now telling Glen Brown to go away as they know best.

But the previous sell-out on the tenure legislation, the lack of a real push at the local and state levels, and then the excuses to Glen are a red flag. They speak to my gut, my lived experience that the meeting February 11 may be bad news for us, and not just from legislators, from our own. I don’t like this…go away, we’ll handle it…strategy. We all know that the last thing that gets the attention of people in power is for the people affected to go away. That is what the powerful want. When the IEA President tells the affected members to go away, my gut gets a sickening feeling.

I like Eden Martin’s Sun-Times column because it is so blatant about switching the shells in the game.

“Today, the unfunded pension liabilities are liabilities of the pension funds — but not the state itself. Thus, if the pension funds were to run out of money, the unions and their retirees and members would have perfectly valid claims against several empty paper bags.
So the public service unions have argued that the state should contractually guarantee the liabilities of the pension funds; and they have sought a special judicial enforcement mechanism — something no other claimant against state funds has. (The fact that they want an explicit contract guarantee in effect concedes that one does not already exist.)”

Notice he only says the funding guarantee doesn’t exist, one shell in the game. But all of the attacks are on the benefits, which is a guarantee that does exist. They don’t want us to look under that shell for the guarantee. And if the unions let the powerful hammer away at the benefits which all the proposals do, we will have to end up fighting not only the Civic Committee, Martin, and the like, but also our own union.

He also suggests there will be “empty bags” ignoring the fact that the state can’t go bankrupt. It is a shell game to say there will be no money as there obviously will be. Pensions are funded over decades so the meltdown in the economy is an opportunity for those who want to end public spending to make their move today, a political opportunity, that smacks of Disaster Capitalism. And it is an opportunity for the fat cats to take the contributions of teachers and put them on the 401k market so fat cats can make fees from investing the money. What is little noticed in the debates is they always want to make pension contributions into 401ks.

Where did the We Are One coalition come up with the idea to increase payments from the members when the problem is revenue from tax sources? It is the beginning of a solution that doesn’t speak to the problem, and a sell-out. And it bolsters the arguments of people like Martin the problem is the pensions themselves.

Why aren’t they speaking about laws that could solve the problems that could be easily passed? Re-amortizing the pension ramp. Passing a Financial Speculation Tax. Neither require a Constitutional Amendment. Why? Answer this question and we get to the real problem.

Why are they proposing to take money from old people? It is like the proposals at the national level to reduce Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. That is where we need to have a debate. Why?

We need to bang on drums however we can to get the message out there are solutions if the legislature wants to enact them, that are constitutional, legal, moral that solve the real problem. It’s a revenue problem. It’s a problem that the mainstream media in Illinois is owned by the like of the Commercial Club. And the solution is for the public employees to get active. And we can’t go away.

Also: Is raising pension contributions a diminishment or impairment of pensions?

Is the offer to increase pension contributions as the We Are One Coalition has proposed constitutional?

Can the We Are One Coalition speak for every annuitant in a way that is in any conflict with the diminishment clause of the IL Constitution?

Having a negotiated and political settlement is not the same as having a legal settlement.

Patricia Herrmann



About Ken Previti
This entry was posted in fairness, government, pensions, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pat Hermann questions the IEA’s present behavior regarding bargaining the constitutionally guaranteed rights of teachers and retirees

  1. Thank you for explaining this mess so well. I’d certainly like to know how many active teachers agreed to give up another 2% of their incomes; none of my friends still teaching were asked about this. As a retired teacher, I am certainly not in favor of postponing my COLA (which I have not yet received), freezing/reducing/postponing the COLA my husband does receive, or having to decide between COLA and health insurance. No one has ever asked my opinion and I’m a member of IEA-R and IRTA.
    In all my letters/calls/emails to my state representative (who does respond sometimes) and my state senator (who has never responded), I have argued that state employees have met their obligations while the State has not. My state representative, in his latest note, said “There may not be a pension system” if – and I’m assuming he means this – we don’t give up what we have worked for and earned. He has never answered my question of “Why are only state employees being asked to make sacrifices?”
    I agree that we must “bang on drums” and not go away. I’m curious…are people simply waiting for this mess to be solved in the courts?

    • kenpreviti says:

      Yes, present IEA leadership is waiting. Please sign-up to receive email updates from this blog. Also, the blogs in the right column by Glen Brown, John Dillon and Fred Klonsky are terrific for Illinois updates that are informative and accurate. If you forward these blogs to your friends, we can all help each other survive very difficult times.

      • I do read Glen’s blog as well as the other blogs he lists. And, yes, I forward them to my teacher friends, both active and retired. I will admit that I frequently “steal” the ideas of Glen and Bob Haisman (and anyone else they may cite) to use in my letters and emails to my state representative and senator.

      • kenpreviti says:

        Great! Steal to your heart’s content. I prefer to call it networking, but as long as information gets passed along, we can call it anything we want. I was pleased beyond words when Diane Ravitch posted my third blog. It definitely motivated me to share as much information as possible that helps our cause. On Facebook I am Teachers Laugh with over 850 friends, mostly teachers and educational organizations from all over the USA. I learn a great deal and share what I can.

  2. Pingback: Raising teacher contributions to our pension is a solution that doesn’t speak to the problem. « Fred Klonsky

  3. Robin Cederblad says:

    I’m going to send a “friend request”!

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