So we saw from yesterday's post that the required contributions for teachers pensions was going to spike soon (it wasn't a spike, per se, if there hadn't been funding "relief", to be sure).
The Illinois Policy Institute is just hammering the point on pensions. Let's see what's happened to the cost in the past decade, shall we?
Uh, yeah. That's quite an increase in just a little over 10 years. An 80% increase. About a 5.5% annual increase.
Let's compare that to the National Average Wage Index. Over the past decade, that has increased by about 2.6% per year. Mind you, the NAWI can go down as well as up, unlike public employee wages.
Of course, they're also living longer (for all the pics of well-fed teachers, there's not quite a clear link between obesity and shorter lifespans.), and interest rates have dropped a lot. So not only do you get the effect of the initial payment being so much higher, but also that you're paying it for longer, and needing to discount at a lower rate — all of which compounds to higher costs.
Now, I do wonder about the calculations above — while the starting pension increased 80%, the total value increased only 72%. Something is a bit off there. Also, they're using Social Security mortality tables, which almost definitely underestimates the longevity of teachers.
Speaking of, the Chicago teachers do not receive Social Security for their teaching service. But the maximum payment for 2012 for newly retiring people at full retirement age (66) is $2,513 per month, or $30,156 per year.
Enough on the numbers. What is the sentiment out there?
The corporate media’s initial dispatches on this fight have been disappointing. Instead of reporting on what the Chicago Teachers Union’s vision for education is (explained quite clearly here), they have instead zeroed in on the CTU’s demand for a 20 percent wage increase (which corresponds to a 20 percent increase in their workweek) and the so-called “personal feud” between CTU President Karen Lewis and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Along these same lines, media reports have emphasized the “dire” fiscal situation of the Chicago public schools—failing to note that the Chicago district spent $25 million on strike contingency plans, that the schools could gain $43 million if the city stopped providing slush funds for wealthy developers or that the state recently gave a$528 million tax break to the owners of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
So I've also looked at the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast for CTU support. At HuffPo, I looked at the front page… nothing… looked at the politics page…. nothing. I searched on the term "Chicago" and got nothing but a bunch of posts on all the murders and gun violence the city has been seeing of late. I didn't find anything at The Daily Beast either. This is all I found at The Atlantic. But it's early days. Maybe they're just holding fire for now.
I imagine we'll be hearing more as the strike wears on, because I don't see either side bending at this point.
The reason I'm curious is that I, like many conservatives, have lots of liberal acquaintances, and every time a general talking point goes up, I cannot but see it all over my facebook page. When the Chicago strike started, I saw various political talking points posted from my conservative friends, but no defense of the CTU from the liberal side (yet).
This isn’t the Chicago way, unfortunately. There, the mayor made clear from the start he had no interest in working with the teachers, and the teachers reacted as angry and aggrieved partisans. If this war within the Democratic Party spreads beyond Chicago, it doesn’t augur well for the future of education or the party. If Democrats are bent on committing suicide, the Emanuel mode of union-busting looks like a fine place to start.