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Topic: Gen'l Interest: ILLINOIS-Pensions are payment for work
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Gen'l Interest: ILLINOIS-Pensions are payment for work
Posted: Mar 13, 2013 3:24 PM
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General Interest - Relates to the (education) pensions problem in the
state of Illinois.
From The Southern Illinoisan, Wednesday, March 13, 2012. See
Pensions are payment for work

By Jim Carl

Pensions are a debt due, not a privilege granted. As I type this the
governor and the Illinois General Assembly are pretending that the
state employee pension systems are the root of Illinois' budget woes.
Proposals are being put forth that would eliminate cost of living
adjustments for retirees, eliminate health insurance, raise the
retirement age to 67 or delay implementation of some benefits until

There is a misunderstanding about these benefits that has been spread
by the politicians and media. They behave as if earned pension
packages are some government program that, while nice, are a luxury
the state can no longer pay. This is false. These pensions are
compensation, not a bonus. The price of our labor was our wage PLUS
our pension PLUS the cost of living adjustment PLUS health insurance.
It's an 'and' statement. We did the work. Now we must be paid. All of

If we are robbed of this compensation due us, every vendor should
know that the legislature's solution to the larger budget problem is
to declare the debt due null and void. Doctors, suppliers,
construction companies are all in peril. If they can renege on our
contract, you are all at risk. Don't let them do this to us.

Focus is always put on directors of state departments and on
university faculty and administrators who make six figure salaries.
They are not representative of state or university employees. Many of
us started in entry level staff positions making barely above minimum
wage. When readers think of university employees, they should not
think of coaches and chancellors. Think of the lady washing dishes or
cooking the food in the dorm where your child lives. Think of the
data entry operator entering your child's application to college into
the student information system. Think of the space administrator
scheduling classrooms for your child to be taught in, and the
academic advisor guiding your child toward her dream of being a
teacher. They will never make $50,000. But, they should be paid the
compensation for the work they have done.

Politicians and pundits all declare that there must be "reform." We
are told that even though the problems are not the employees' fault,
"we're all going to have to accept some pain now." No. This is theft.
We not only did the work; we paid into the system.

Illinois has for the last several decades been run by five people:
the governor, the speaker of the house, the senate president and the
house and senate minority leaders. That does not absolve the small
fry. All those house and senate members, like John Bradley, Gary
Forby, Mike Bost and David Luechtefeld voted these guys into power.
Now they need to take some responsibility. Mike Madigan has been
speaker for 25 years. In places like Japan, if someone had failed
this spectacularly, they would resign in shame.

We can't take the work back. Our benefits package is not a tip; it is
not a gratuity. It's the price of our labor. The bill is due in full.
PHOTO SIDEBAR: Guest View Jim Carl
Jim Carl of Carterville is associate director of undergraduate
admissions at SIU Carbondale and a 29-year university employee.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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