Diane Ravitch interrupted me to exclaim, “It’s plain THEFT!”
As we spoke briefly before she made Sunday’s keynote presentation at this year’s Network for Public Education National Conference at the University of Texas in Austin in March, I was very surprised by the spontaneous, harsh verbal emphasis of her tone of voice and the noticeable anger displayed on her brow and in her eyes. She had already assured me that she would include teacher pensions as an issue in her address. Since her address had so many other specific topics, I knew that this inclusion crowded an already crowded set of agenda topics.
Since I had been talking with her about some specifics of pension raids against both active and retired teachers, it was this straightforward focus that gave me assurance that we were all in this together.
“It’s plain THEFT!”
In state after state active teachers were being forced by legislatures to increase the amount of money teachers are paying from each paycheck into their pension systems. At the same time the same legislators were saying that pension systems cannot and will not exist in the future. Therefore, legislators are forcing teachers to “save” money while promising them they will never get it back later. This is plain WAGE THEFT.
In state after state dual systems or choice systems force teachers to pay into 401k programs approved by legislators. These 401k programs make upfront profits (fees, handling costs, service charges, or premiums paid for by the teacher and/or employer) from this mandatory savings system while openly stating that the 401k programs will lose money at various times. Do the math. WAGE THEFT.
Retired teachers who contracted for lower immediate wages while earning deferred compensation (pensions) are now being told that states have not paid what they were contracted to pay by law into the systems, therefore the state will punish the teachers they stole from by refusing to pay the agreed upon amounts. The legislative thieves punish the retired teacher victims. Legislatively condoned WAGE THEFT.
Diane Ravitch, I and hundreds of thousands of active and retired teachers have every right to be angry.
WAGE THEFT, as an ongoing activity perpetrated by the our own elected government officials who have made themselves immune from arrest and imprisonment, is outrageous behavior. The money received by these same legislators via election campaign contributions comes in part from many fund managers, bond sellers, corporations and organizations who profit from pension raiding. This used to be called plain corruption.
What must we do about it? Demand that unions take it to court. Begin our own class action suits. Find lawyers who will help introduce suits against the states guilty of WAGE THEFT.
Disclosure: I retired from teaching in Illinois after paying 9.4% of my total income into a very successful pension system that has been looted for years by legislators. I collect my deferred compensation, pension, from Illinois as I live in Florida. Democratic controlled Illinois and Republican controlled Florida are doing the same WAGE THEFT with local variations and amounts to give the illusion that collusion is not occurring. However, most states are engaged in this corporate attack on teachers, teacher incomes and retired teacher incomes.
NOTE: Illinois retirees were not allowed to pay their teaching income into Social Security or Medicare. Their pensions are their income from which they must also pay for state contracted healthcare insurance. Some paid as much as $1,200 per month for healthcare for themselves and their spouses. Also, both the present Illinois governor, Pat Quinn (D), and his opponent in the next election, Bruce Rauner (R), support the corporate endorsed teacher pension raids – WAGE THEFT.