Saturday, May 18, 2013

Let's Make A Deal: SB2404

Let’s Make  Deal: SB2404
Quite honestly, I was at first befuddled when it came to choices as a retiree looking at SB2404.  I’m not good at choices.  I lose at Blackjack without fail.
Could be worse.  I could be an active teacher looking at SB2404.
Thank goodness I’m not an active anymore.  The spreadsheet on the IEA Fact Sheet reads like a graduate level test question for Monty Hall’s Let’s Make a Deal 403 (5 credits).  Even the producers of TV's Let’s Make a Deal knew that optimal choices should range for three possibilities, not four.  Imagine a fourth door in Let’s Make a Deal.  Suddenly one booby prize becomes two booby prizes.  That’s like playing roulette with two more loaded chambers.  Bang, bang.
And the fine print in SB2404 for actives?  Whew! 
·      A COLA that has a two year delay, but you get new, strange stuff.
·      A 3% compounded COLA if you stop now with present salary to be configured.
·      Delay your COLA for three years, if you are willing to pay and additional 2% over next two years and forever.
·      Join a Cash Balance Plan if you’d like.  By the way, the choices in a Cash Balance Plan far outnumber the possible choices for actives’ COLAS. 
Decisions, decisions.   And the appearances of choice (or consideration, if you are of a legal bent).
So, I skip the snares and traps laid for actives and look directly at my options as a retiree.  Thank goodness – just two. 
I can keep the 3% compounded COLA and receive retiree healthcare access if I agree to give 2 non-consecutive 1-year freezes of my COLA.  OR  I can keep my compound COLA and lose my opportunity to access state healthcare.  Simple?
But then, it got even worse.
The IRTA announced that the first choice to receive health care access may come with the full cost of healthcare, not the state subsidized payment as in the past. 
Bloggers, curse them for their interloping, later find a last minute amendment by Cullerton and others (Steans?) to force a full payment on the healthcare option, and NO guarantee that healthcare from the state (TRIP) will be provided at all.  The blasted bloggers also suggest that my payment for healthcare from the state may come to $12,000 a year. That is, IF healthcare even exists after the passage of SB2404.
Come again?  I realize, that first selection would be the same as those who chose not to have healthcare and keep their compound COLA’s (and purchase their own healthcare at full price).  People would be selecting to freeze their pension COLA’s for two staggered years for no distinctive difference than those who chose the other option?
You got to be kidding!  This has to be wrong, and – if it is true – it must be part of some bigger, comprehensive decision on the union leadership’s part.  If not, they’d be condemning this last minute amendment.  If not, they’d be explaining their decision, wouldn’t they?
So I went to the IEA website to find out what is up with this costly healthcare development in SB2404.  Why did they agree to this or are they not? Nothing. (
So I went to the IFT website to see what they could tell me about this seemingly underhanded addition.  Nada. (
So I went to the We Are One Illinois website to get their perspective on this.  Certainly they’d object to the sudden addition of a full payment with no promise of anything.  Nope, I was wrong.  Nothing there. (
 Meanwhile, the IRTA is rattling sabers and threatening legal action to protect retirees, much to the chagrin and admonishment of the leadership in We Are One and its coalition of unions. 
But for me, We Are One, well, they’ll explain the deeper and wiser strategy of verisimilitude in choices for retirees.  They’ll explain the benefits of choosing to keep the healthcare at 100% payment without promise of healthcare.  They have a plan, and I know they’ll communicate it sooner…or later.  Won’t they?


  1. Correction: It is not the "appearance of choice" for anyone.
    It is the "illusion of choice" for those who wrote this, and it is the "delusion of choice" for those crazy enough to believe the illusion.

  2. As I've said time and again, as teachers, we'd learned that it is best to give children a "choice" when they're being disciplined or in their work load--it makes them feel that they have a say-so in the outcome and, additionally, helps their self-esteem, critical thinking skills and social-emotional growth on the road to responsibility and maturity. That being said, WE are NOT children, even as they would like to treat us as such. Accurate phrase, Ken--the "delusion of choice."

  3. Pension Colleagues ....... The flurry of E-mail, accusations and "misrepresentations" concerning SB 2404 and TRIP (retired teacher insurance) since Friday Night -- 5-17 -- has been amazing.
    I was a supporter of SB2404 at Friday, May 17 at 5PM and I'm still a supporter of SB2404 on Sunday morning 5-19. There have been a number of charges, accusations, and "misrepresentations" subtly begun by the IRTA leadership and fanned, spread and promoted by the "Pension Bloggers" most notably Fred Klonsky's Blog.
    In my book the most grievous and incorrect "misrepresentation" was this one from Fred Klonsky's Blog ....."There is no mention of John Cullerton's last minute addition to SB2404 which requires retirees to pay 100% percent of their health insurance......" Klonsky was referencing an IEA statement concerning SB2404. There was no reference to a increase in TRIP insurance because there was no such increase in SB2404. This is NOT TRUE.

    These are important issues raised by the IRTA and subsequently trashed over by the 'pension bloggers'. No One is denying that. If questions arise they need to be answered. The issue in my mind is how are these questions asked and answered. It is my opinion that Fred Klonsky's accusatory approach of "when did it come about it and when did the IEA leadership sell us out?" Contributes to emotionalism and fear and uncertainty but not to a rational discussion of the issues (in my opinion!).

    None of that was true ....there was no secret plot......there was no "smoking gun" is IEA's explanation.....

    ".......There have been questions raised about language amended into SB 2404, the Cullerton-Coalition legislation.

    This amendment was not a surprise to the members of the labor coalition. The coalition remains committed to the passage of SB 2404.

    The amendment clarifies the law with regard to retiree access to health insurance through the State.

    Maintaining access to health insurance....

    Under current law, access to state health insurance for retirees is not a vested enforceable contractual right. If SB 2404 becomes law, it would become, for the first time, an enforceable contractual right.

    The recent amendment is President Cullerton’s attempt to make it clear that, by making access to insurance a contractual right, SB 2404 does not make the cost of the insurance premium a contractual right. He also wanted to make it clear that while access would become a contractual right, it would not be a retirement benefit protected by the Illinois Constitution’s Pension Clause.

    No change in current law on cost.......

    To be clear, under current law, the legislature could vote to pass 100 percent of all health insurance costs on to retirees. If that came to pass, IEA would fight to protect the health insurance benefits of our members. In fact, there have been previous attempts to cut the state’s contribution to insurance, but intense lobbying by IEA and other organizations preserved the subsidy.

    SB 2404 is supported by IEA on the grounds that it:
    • Is constitutional
    • Is fair to our members
    • Will stabilize the pension systems ......."

    OK! OK! Already!! I get it -- the IRTA and Fred Klonsky and some of the other "Pension Bloggers" do not support SB 2404. But the last time I looked we were all teachers, All in the same boat, The IRTA and the IEA were both in support of retired teachers. None of us support Speaker Madigan's SB1, or the Civic Federation -- we are all teachers. I hate to be corny but as Reg Weaver used to say - "We are going to have to agree to disagree".

    We need to come together -- show some Unity --work togethwe to defeat SB1 and disagree on SB 2404! We need to be careful they don't pass SB1 while we are having a fist fight over SB2404 .....

    bob haisman

    1. Sorry, Bob, but I am going to have to "agree to disagree" as you cite the old cliched mantra.

      I know that We Are One has collaborated with Cullerton in making what they all believe is the best possible opportunity to make a constitutionally acceptable bill. But, in my mind, all this goes beyond just whether the healthcare SB2404 Amendment 002 is a sudden change which leaves IEA and WAO in uncomfortable, stunned silence.

      If this were real negotiations as I have seen them, then this last minute detail would have been ironed out in the original wording - not as an amendment. Indeed, it was this amendment which was after-added that has caused most of the arguments, yes?

      Understandably, our myopic "retiree" perspective has focused almost entirely on this issue and the questions of IEA's inability to negotiate or be complicit/tacit acceptance of a punitive change at the last moment. In that sense, I can understand IRTA's stand to challenge in court. Can't you? Remember also, Bob, that those of us who elect to leave TRIP as the cost may/will be increased can never get back in. Think of all of us waiting for Medicare services who do not know what's about to happen.

      After that. Bob, I have additional issues with what SB2404 does to our actives, who should be protected under the same Article XIII, Section 5 as the rest of us. Their choices ( or consideration) gives them the unfortunate and coercive opportunity to choose to move to simple COLA with a two-year delay. Or they can pay more (2%), unlike others, to wait three years before the COLA takes effect, or deny themselves any future salary increase to figure their eventual COLA. These are diminishments and impairments to what the expectations are by design and by long history now, Bob. If IRTA did not challenge, then it would be anyone who feels that he is not being represented as he should have been. In short, Bob, it's not the bloggers, it's the many who feel un-represented in the deal.

      And, Bob, maybe the IEA has found a contingent of people who are willing to give in to the promises of those who have taken from them before. But, Bob, many do not trust (with good reason) and many believe in Green and Kinney's words (which are pretty darn clear, Bob) and many more know that the characters in the GA (Nekritz, Biss, Madigan, Fahner, etc.) will not be quiet until they have taken it all.

      You may call it a roll of the dice. You may say we are all naive. You might be right, old friend. Too many Capra films.

      Call us idyllic/cynical and believers in the Constitution.

      But, Bob, That's just my opinion.

      Be well, old friend.