TRS Townhall in Naperville

by , posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Teachers and retired teachers filled a school cafeteria in Naperville, IL to hear a presentation from Dick Ingram, the Executive Director of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) on Thursday, April 26th.

The staff at the high school had to set up extra seats to accommodate an estimated 300-400 people.

The presentation itself was very “matter of fact” and seemed to be a part of a PR effort to let teachers know that Governor Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly were about to deliver a hard-hitting punch. Most of the information presented was not new, but the use of multiple events and participation by the news media re-enforced the message, “the sky is falling and teachers have to make concessions.” Before delivering the bad news, Ingram did talk about how great it was that teachers had lived up to their responsibility by paying into the retirement system all of these years. He also acknowledged that teachers are not eligible for Social Security (a point that is often missed by the public and seems to be ignored by lawmakers).

Then Ingram delivered the blow, Governor Quinn’s plan. The bullet points are easy to find by doing a simple web search for the words, “Quinn pension reform.” Here they are:

– Increasing employee contributions by 3%
– Increasing the retirement age to 67
– Reducing the cost of living adjustment to the lesser of 3% or half of the consumer price index
– Delaying the cost of living adjustment to the earlier of age 67 or five years after retirement
– Establishing a 30 year actuarially required contribution funding schedule

Quinn made participation in the new plan optional. Current state employees would have to choose between Quinn’s new plan or staying in the current system.

In short, because the ILGA acted irresponsibly, Quinn feels that working people should take it on the chin. Because billionaires like the Pritzkers, Crowns and Griffins don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes, working people should take it on the chin. Because there is no political courage in Springfield to tackle these wealthy elitists and powerful institutions like the Civic Committee, working people should take it on the chin. Gosh, this isn’t the same Pat “shoe leather” Quinn who used to be a strong voice for “Illinois families who are living paycheck-to-paycheck.”

Well-educated teachers did not respond favorably to the TRS presentation and many expressed their animosity towards Ingram. While Ingram seems to be following orders like a good soldier, the truth is that he is a bureaucrat and much of the animosity should have been directed at Quinn and/or the Illinois General Assembly (ILGA).

Myself and seven other members of Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice participated in the event to be part of the grassroots organizing effort to stop Quinn’s unfair, anti-teacher/anti-middle class proposal. We distributed flyers announcing two upcoming events in Senator Mike Noland’s district (D-Elgin) and sought out new supporters in the Naperville area to hold an event in State Rep. Darlene Senger’s district (R-Naperville). Four members of the Illinois General Assembly were part of Quinn’s “Reform” committee. Their names and numbers are listed below.

Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) – (847) 214-8864

Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) – (309) 664-4440

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines) – (847) 257-0450

Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) – (630) 219.3090

As of this posting, no events are scheduled in Nekritz, Senger or Brady’s districts. The two events in Noland’s district are listed below:

Friday, May 4, 2012 at 12:00 Noon – Rally for Jobs

Our monthly jobs rally will be held across from the office of Senator Mike Noland’s office (100 E. Chicago Street, Elgin, IL 60120).

Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice will be calling upon Senator Noland, a member of Governor Quinn’s reform committee, to support our proposals for adequate TRS funding and to reject the proposed cuts to teachers’ pensions.

Saturday, May 12th from 2:00 PM till 5:00 PM – Education Forum

Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice will hold our next general meeting on Saturday, May 12th from 2:00 PM till 5:00 PM at the First Congregational Church at 256 E Chicago Street in Elgin. This will be a forum in response to the current assaults on our schools and on teachers’ rights and pensions. We will have a panel of speakers who will bring their life experience and expertise to address these matters.

Please enter by the back door of the church. Please do not park in the Eagles’ Nest parking lot next door. There is a large, public parking lot kitty-corner from the back door of the church.

If you would like to participate in any of the above-mentioned events, volunteer, or be part of an organizing committee to hold an event in your area, please contact NIJWJ at 847.742.6602 or call my cell phone at 630.878.7454.


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