Pensions are big news
for everyone. The collapse of Detroit, under funding of Illinois pensions
and the massive problems in California counties pension systems have created a
public opinion battle. It is really a battle of opinions over borrowed
money. The same public that is now anti-pension are the borrowers.
Maybe not directly from our pension to their bank account but part of the
borrowing game. Pension problems have arisen from politicians, city and county
administrators and corporations borrowing money. Let’s go beyond the
“spiking” or “double-dipping”. It’s about paying back a loan. In
times of economic distress, cities, counties, states and corporations were
quick to borrow from their pension funds.
In the early 1980’s
unions were stopped from borrowing from their pensions for the same ponzi like
scheming that we are left with now. Countless numbers of unions were
closed and many union representatives sent to jail for defrauding the pension
funds. There isn’t a difference between union representatives and
politicians since the laws on defrauding pensions are the same. The laws
state in most cases that pensions are not to be tampered with by any
means. In 2006 and now, the United
States Treasury Secretary borrowed money from the federal employee pension
fund to cover the budget. New
York borrowed against the public employee pension funds in 2012 to pay
their pension dues. The local union
pension funds for the City
of Chicago were depleted by the former mayor’s family members, some say to
the tune of $80M. Borrowing from our pensions is the favored money scheme
of politicians and their illicit accountants. So, why the public opinion
backlash on pensioned employees instead of the politicians?
Time and again our
pension funds are utilized to supplement the public funds within a
municipality. The public needs to realize we have saved the budgets of
governments. The political borrowing is infused into municipal budgets to
supplement and maintain public services. The public pension funds of the
City of Chicago employees was used to design, erect and maintain flower boxes
in the middle of the streets. Our pensions (namely, LiUNA Local 1001)
infused money into social services, health clinic budgets, Chicago Park
District, Chicago Fire and Police, and a host of many other city
services. City of Chicago pensions even helped create Millennium
Park. Millions were taken from the pension to be invested in the city
budget to support our city services. The same is done when the US
Treasury Secretary depletes federal pension funds to support the ever growing
US budget. The public employee pensions in Milwaukee were borrowed from
to support their city and city service budget.
It is time the public
citizens realize their taxes would have doubled or more if it hadn’t been for
our pensions contributions to municipal budgets. Not only do these same
public employees take concessions and layoffs during budget crunches, we
sacrifice our future. Public teachers provide futures for your children
without knowing if they have one of their own. Every time a citizen of
Chicago, New York, Milwaukee or California can see by way of working street
lights, thank a public employee. Our pensions are probably funding
that. From newly erected stop signs to a free shot at a public health
clinic, thank a union member. We have been there for you again. The
postal worker to the refuse collector has been a public servant beyond
providing a service. They have been the first responders to all your
budget woes. If you really want to change the budgets within your
municipality start looking at the ponzi politicians. We, the government
union employee and public employee, have not stolen any of your money.
You have borrowed and now we need it back. As our ranks grow in age, it
is time for them to collect their part of their contribution.
The largest union
membership is in government employment. Yes, unions account for over 30%
of government jobs. If there weren’t high numbers of union
employees making a decent wage, where would the public budget come from?
A $10 an hour contribution to a pension isn’t going to provide the millions
upon millions of dollars that are required to supplement and support a large
municipal budget. Politicians know this and have consistently supported
unions due to our immense financial contributions to their locales and
budgets. The public needs to understand that the political backlash on
public employee pensions is a public relations scheme. Politicians are
spinning their money woes into your households with headlines blaming public
employees are a fiscal failure. Since, our pensions are all inadequately
funded we no longer serve their need for greed. We have been there
for the general public since our first contribution to our pensions. It’s
time that we get paid, not vilified.
New Policy for a New Era
As we venture into the progressive 21st century, we must make progressive policy. Financial policy has and will continue to be built around the few Big Business analysts and investors. Those investors do not have the interest of the majority of the population of Chicago or the nation as witnessed in the tragic financial situation since 2008. Public employees can no longer rely on the government to secure their retirement as the governments were not careful watchdogs of the pension system. Pension savings Bonds allow the City of Chicago to move out of crisis with the collaboration of the pension contributors. We must work together today for the best tomorrow.
Please read the link below for the downloadable policy proposal.