You may be wondering, as I was, who Ty Fahner is and what he has to do with faculty pensions. That information is included in an email from the IFT:
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Steve Preckwinkle <SPreckwinkle@ift-aft.org>
To: IFTEXECUTIVEBOARD <IFTEXECUTIVEBOARD@ift-aft.org>; Department All IFT <ALLIFT@ift-aft.org>
Sent: Thu, April 28, 2011 3:43:44 PM
Subject: PENSION ALERT!!!
The following message was sent this morning to a large email list from Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, one of the most influential business groups in Chicago:
“You know what’s at stake — now we need to get to work. We’re just weeks away from a potentially historic vote on pension reform legislation that could save our state from financial disaster. I’m writing you personally, one Illinoisan to another, to ask for your help in sending a powerful message to our leaders in Springfield.
“We don’t have any time to waste. Our state is being crushed under the weight of $140 billion in retirement-related debt– that’s $30,000 in debt for each and every household in Illinois.
“We need to urge all our state legislators to vote “yes” on pension reform and begin to dig Illinois out of the giant hole we’re in.
For the future of our state, please take three minutes to write your legislators and tell them to support this bill.”
This morning we learned more about this bill, which would apply to every active member of SERS, SURS and TRS (Chicago Teachers are excluded at this time but could be added before a vote is taken). The bill will likely offer 3 choices for participation in the plans going forward (all benefits earned to date would be unaffected):
Choice 1. Stay in the current plan, but pay up to twice as much as current rates. For TRS, that could mean anywhere from 14% of pay to 18% of pay.
Choice 2. Go into the plan for new hires, which means you will work until age 67 with a lower benefit and decimated COLA to look forward to after that.
Choice 3. Go into a 401k type plan, in effect freezing current pension credits and putting your fate in the hands of the stock market. For most of our members there would continue to be no Social Security safety net provided to them.
There are no other options for you to choose under this legislation.
At this time, we don’t know about who might be grandfathered into their current plans based on being near retirement age.
This bill will be initiated in the House, and presumably have the support of both House Speaker Michael Madigan and House Republican Leader Tom Cross. If it passes the House, it must still be voted on in the Senate and signed by the governor or overridden if vetoed. We could see the actual bill as early as next week.
Starting tomorrow, the IFT along with our labor coalition partners will be responding. Lots of helpful information will be posted on our website by Friday afternoon, a blast email will be going to all members on Monday, worksite flyers are being prepared, and Dan will be recording a robo call to all members. In addition, we will be using click-to-call lawmakers software, continuing with our in-district meetings, and initiating a new “virtual lobby day” for our members statewide.
TV ads begin early next week airing statewide on broadcast TV, part of a million dollar effort in conjunction with other public sector unions and the Illinois AFL-CIO.
I realize this has been a long year already for our members and local leaders, but we are asking for a few more weeks of effort to defeat these mean-spirited and harmful proposals.
If you have not yet committed to sending a delegation to lobby day on Tuesday, May 3, it is not too late. If for any reason that is not possible, please make sure every one of your members communicates one way or the other with their lawmakers on this subject which is vital to the future of all IFT members.
This is a winnable fight, but we have to outwork our opponents. Please let me know if you have any questions. The communications staff is busy working up the updates, print materials, robo calls and web content. You will receive additional information as it becomes available.
Director of Political Activities
T: 217/544-8562, ext. 12
Illinois Federation of Teachers
700 S. College St.
Springfield, IL 62704