Unions executives supported skipping pension payments
Union officials backed the very pension "holidays" they blame for Illinois' pension crisis.
As Illinois government pensions continue to deteriorate, union officials argue that they are not to blame; that the fault lies with politicians who failed to fund pensions. For instance, the union pension lobby group “We Are One Illinois” argues that, “[f]or decades, Illinois politicians shorted or skipped the employer contributions required by law, creating the nation’s largest pension debt. All that time, public employees paid their fair share.”
The truth is quite different.
When the state of Illinois instituted its “pension holiday” in 2005, three key unions – the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association and Service Employees International Union – were all in support.
The pension holiday meant that the state would not make its contribution for pensions, either. As the bill authorizing the “holiday” worked its way through the General Assembly, lobbyists representing these three unions filed witness slips in favor of the bill and the pension holiday.
So government union officials have to accept a big chunk of the blame. They allowed the state to take holidays and skip making its payments.
Defined benefit pensions look like a nice idea on paper, but there are just too many temptations for politicians and union officials to cut deals at the expense of workers and taxpayers.