Some Wisconsin teachers decided to retire after onerous anti-public union laws were passed in Wisconsin… no more working for The Man for them!
[P]lenty of teachers are apparently willing to weather Walker’s “attack,” as many of them are returning to the classroom with different pay arrangements. The new collective bargaining law gives districts the flexibility to hire back recently retired teachers at similar or reduced salaries, without the districts having to pay the rehired teachers’ health or pension benefits. Teachers feigned offense when retiring, but now they are willing to work in these supposedly oppressive jobs while collecting both a current salary and generous pension benefits.
Therein lies the danger in this situation: Not only are teachers collecting a salary close to their original level, they are “double dipping” by collecting their pensions contemporaneously. Such double dipping arrangements have prompted scandals in other states; in 2010, Florida had to ban the practice altogether after nearly 9,700 workers were found to be benefiting from such arrangements. (The state instituted a six-month waiting period for retired workers to be hired back.)
Double-dipping schemes also serve to keep long-term, high-salaried employees in positions where younger, less expensive employees would suffice. New teachers are squeezed out of newly open instructional positions, as preferential treatment is given to the teacher that held it previously. Often, such arrangements run afoul of government rules requiring a fair and open hiring process.
Now, on the plus side, they’re not accruing additional pension obligations. So I guess that “saves money” in some sense (the money for the pensions, after all, is coming from the pension fund, accumulated from the contributions to it over years). The same is true for the retiree health benefits.
The superintendent in the article claims that they are cheaper than newly-graduated teachers (those pension and health coverage contributions aren’t cheap). That is certainly possible.
The issue with double-dipping isn’t cost, in terms of why it’s so unpopular. It’s the appearance of unfairness, especially during a time of high unemployment.
There are lots of new grads (and not-so-new grads) who are having a hard time finding a position, and here are people who supposedly retired (at a relatively young age) but are still taking up those positions.