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Union Leaders Draining Teacher Pensions- $47 million

Last month, the Chicago Tribune broke the story of a union leader who was re-hired for one day at the City of Chicago and then retired with a $158,000 city pension. For two decades, the career union boss worked his way up the union ladder, and eventually earned $240,000 per year. Through a convoluted series of bureaucratic moves, taxpayers were left holding the bag for his lifetime pension benefit.

The sweetheart union access into our state pension system is an even larger scam.

On September 29th, we broke this story nationally on the third largest conservative talk radio program, Michael Savage Show- click here to listen. We identified 34 union leaders draining nearly $340 thousand per month in teachers’ pension.

Yesterday, the Illinois Statehouse News was the first Illinois newspaper to investigate.

Former employees of the National Education Association (NEA), Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), and Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), drawing pensions have collected more than $47 million from the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), to date. click here to read story.

It’s an on-going $47 million pension scam. Union leaders who are not government employees are draining millions in teacher retirement pensions.

How did we unearth this pension abuse?

On September 13th, our organization For The Good of Illinois launched www.openthebooks.com. We posted the pay and pensions of virtually every public employee from every level of Illinois government. 7 million lines of data and a grand sum of a quarter trillion dollars of government spending are posted online.

At openthebooks.com, citizens are uncovering sweetheart insider deals given to organizations that are not government entities. These unions and non-profit organizations exert so much muscle in Springfield that they’ve literally written themselves into the government’s pension code.

Consider these examples:

The second highest teacher pension in history goes to the former President of the NEA (national teachers union, Washington, DC)- $20,200 per month. Additionally, we identified thirty-three union leaders draining $318 thousand a month from the teacher pension system. Read more here.

Three of the top six largest pensions in municipal retirement history 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). All organizations participated in end of career salary spiking to maximize the government pensions. See this at openthebooks.com and choose RETIRED; VILLAGE, TOWNSHIP, COUNTY, LOCAL.

The Chicago Tribune outed union leader Dennis Gannon who was re-hired for one day at the City of Chicago and then retired with a $158,000 city pension. See this at openthebooks.com and choose RETIRED, CITY OF CHICAGO. Gannon has the #1 city pension between the years 2000-2010. He’s already drained a million dollars of city pension.

The greed of union leadership and other insiders is draining government pension funds. Unearthing these insider scams helps to protect the hard working rank-and-file government employees and taxpayers. Since the sustainability of Illinois’ pension systems is in question, public employees and taxpayers deserve hard facts and estimates of our liability.

The Illinois Statehouse News identifies the example of Kenneth Drum. Drum has a state teachers’ retirement of more than $160,000 a year. Drum only worked for 12 years as a teacher. Drum’s large pension comes not from his time in the classroom, but rather because of a 20-year career at Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT). He’s collected more than $2 million in retirement.

End the “pension invention” of sweetheart union access to government retirement systems. Let’s protect taxpayers and the hard working rank-and-file public employees.

Watch Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) as legislation is rolled out this week to stop these pension abuses.

Adam Andrzejewski is the founder of For The Good of Illinois. Our mission is to education, engage and empower citizens to demand transparent, accountable and limited government.

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