For Immediate Release
Oct. 13, 2011
Union Leadership Draining Millions from Public Pensions
Sen. Kyle McCarter and Rep. Dwight Kay endorse reform measure (Senate Bill2499)
Metro East, IL. — State Sen. Kyle McCarter and State Rep. Dwight Kay called on the General Assembly to close the sweetheart pension loopholes that have allowed union leadership to drain tens of millions of dollars in retirement pensions from rank-and-file public employees.
The pension abuse was first identified in Chicago, where a union leader was re-hired for one day at the City of Chicago and then retired with a $158,000 city pension.
“If taxpayers are on the hook for your pension, you should be doing work for the taxpayer,” said Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon). “Our pensions are severely under-funded, but the liability for retirees is taxpayer-guaranteed. Abuse should be curbed immediately.”
However, pension abuse at the state level looms even larger.
Up to $47 million from the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) has already been paid to leaders of the National Education Association (NEA), Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), and Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) who are not government employees.
“Government pensions should go to government workers, period,” said Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon). “The pension system for the hard-working teacher and public servant is being drained by insiders with special pension privileges. Senate bill 2499 would protect our public employee pensions from politically-connected insiders.”
The two legislators said private, non-profit organizations and unions exert so much muscle in Springfield that they’ve literally written themselves into the government’s pension code. Senate Bill 2499 would end the pension loophole.
“Union leaders who are not government workers are draining millions of dollars from the hard working rank-and-file public employee’s pension system each year. This is flat out unacceptable for taxpayers and for public employees,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the non-profit watchdog group, For the Good of Illinois.
For the Good of Illinois has created an online portal focusing on government transparency at www.openthebooks.com, which posts the pay and pensions of virtually every public employee at every level of Illinois government. The state-level pension abuse was discovered by citizens using the portal.
According to the group, the second highest Illinois teacher pension ($20,200 per month) goes to the former President of the NEA (in Washington, DC). It’s based on his union salary, not his Illinois elementary school teacher pay.
Collectively, thirty-four retired union leaders pull-out nearly $340,000 per month in Illinois teachers’ retirement pensions. Twenty-one of them have already collected more than $1 million individually.
Additionally, For the Good of Illinois also found three of the top six largest pensions in the municipal retirement fund are paid to retirees from non-profit, non-government organizations:
• Park District Risk Management Association ($20,125 per month)
• Illinois Association of Park Districts ($18,436 per month)
• Illinois Municipal League ($15,076)
The group said it appears the organizations participated in end-of-career salary spiking to maximize the government pensions.
McCarter and Kay said Senate Bill 2499 would stop non-governmental employees from access to all public pension systems, adding that support for the reform legislation should be bi-partisan and unanimous.
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For more information contact:
• Rep. Dwight Kay – (618) 307-9200 or visit www.kay.ilhousegop.org.
• Sen. Kyle McCarter – (618) 654-4068 or visit www.senatormccarter.com.
• Adam Andrzejewski, Founder of For The Good of Illinois, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization – (630) 899-9191 or visit www.forthegoodofillinois.org.
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