Two Illinois union workers have pulled a huge scam on the people in the Land of Lincoln. After teaching, nay substitute teaching, for a day, they have qualified themselves for a state pension worth over $100,000 a year…for the rest of their lives:
Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.
Steven Preckwinkle, the political director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow union lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small window opened by lawmakers a few months earlier.
The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.
Preckwinkle’s one day of subbing qualified him to become a participant in the state teachers pension fund, allowing him to pick up 16 years of previous union work and nearly five more years since he joined. He’s 59, and at age 60 he’ll be eligible for a state pension based on the four-highest consecutive years of his last 10 years of work.
His paycheck fluctuates as a union lobbyist, but pension records show his earnings in the last school year were at least $245,000. Based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives.
He was paid $93 dollars to sub. According to the article, both men will receive over one million dollars over their lieftimes “from a state pension fund that has less than half of the assets it needs to cover promises made to tens of thousands of public school teachers.”
So, while it might not have the funds for actual teachers in the union, it will still be paying these two gems a hundred grand a year for one day of subbing.
The union was righteously outraged. They responded with a, “Meh.”
A spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers emphasized that the lobbyists’ actions were legal and that they made “individual decisions.”
Even so, union President Dan Montgomery said the deal Preckwinkle and Piccioli landed “should never be allowed again.” But the union, which provides its employees with a private 401(k)-type plan, is standing by the lobbyists’ right to have access to the public pension.
“They entered TRS under the law and are participating members of TRS. As a TRS employer, the IFT is required to make the payments to TRS,” the union said in a statement.
Meanwhile, teachers in Illinois keep paying union dues and keep slaving away in classrooms that are dangerous.