Members of the Chicago teachers union and some Chicago parents are protesting this week’s decision made by union officials to fire 1,400 union employees and make $200 million in budget cuts all in order to meet its pending pension obligation.
City officials are doing their best to delay the pension payments that are already in arrears, but delay or no, the payments are due, and officials from both the city and the union are desperately searching for ways to fund the pension.
Some teachers are also protesting possible increases in the pension payments they make from their paychecks in order to strengthen the pension fund.
“I think paying more into a fund when I’ve been contributing into the fund with integrity,” Chicago public school teacher Crain Cleve said, “and (we’re) the only group that has done so in the past 20 years, I think it’s ridiculous to ask us to pay more.”
Teachers have persisted in protesting against any pay cuts or cuts in benefits, but both ideas are being floated as possible reforms.
One idea being floated by reformers is to end the separate Chicago teachers pension and make a single pension for all teachers in the state. This idea, called “Option A,” would also have the benefit of ending the double taxing of Windy City residents who pay twice for teachers pensions–once for downstate teachers and a second time for the Chicago teachers pension.
But the Chicago teachers union opposes all suggested reforms and instead is demanding that taxes be raised to cover their pension shortfall.
CTU officials are pushing a change in the state tax code that would introduce a “progressive tax rate,” one that would raise taxes on every Illinois resident. Union officials feel that teachers should not be asked to make any sacrifices, and that taxpayers should be able to easily bridge the increasing pension shortfalls.
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