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A road map it ain’t

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013

* Rahm Emanuel had been trying to claim that this deal would serve as a road map for future pension talks with all unions. Maybe not

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday touted a pension reform deal forged with Chicago Police sergeants as a “roadmap” for other unions to follow, but the divide-and-conquer strategy didn’t work with the Fraternal Order of Police.

In fact, it started a civil war within the ranks of Chicago Police officers.

FOP President Mike Shields, who has demanded a 12 percent pay raise over two years, accused the sergeants association of being “in bed with the city more than any other union in the history” of labor.

Shields branded sergeants association president Jim Ade “the biggest sell-out in the history of sell-outs” for agreeing to: raise the retirement age for sergeants to 53; increase employee pension contributions from 9-to-12 percent by 2015 and scale it back to 10 percent when funding levels reach 80 percent; eliminate cost-of-living increases every other year; limit C.O.L.A. in intervening years to 2.5 percent with simple interest and raise health care contributions for new retirees to 2 percent of annuities.

Sergeants also would get a 9 percent pay raise spread over four years while maintaining the $1,800-a-year uniform allowance and $3,220 in annual duty availability pay that supplements their income.

The city and union also have agreed to seek state legislation that would allow Emanuel to increase funding for the sergeants pension fund over a seven-year period. That would give the city more time and, if the economy turns around, reduce the amount of new revenue needed to meet union leaders half-way.

Also, there’s no doubt that any such deal would be challenged in court as unconstitutional.

Nice try, though.

* Meanwhile, from the Sun-Times

The platform 1.2 million uninsured Illinoisans can use under ObamaCare to purchase health insurance has won federal approval, sources confirmed Tuesday.

The development, while expected, will be announced at a Wednesday press conference in Chicago by Gov. Pat Quinn and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the federal Health and Human Services Department.

* Crain’s fleshes the story out

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will appear in Chicago today to kick off the rebranding of health insurance exchanges as “marketplaces” for health coverage.

A key part of President Barack Obama’s health reform law, the state-level exchanges are intended to be online sites where consumers and small businesses can shop and compare health insurance plans.

With less than eight months to go before the sites are set to go live on Oct. 1 for open enrollment, state and federal officials are mounting a final public relations push to maximize participation in the exchanges. Having more customers will mean the marketplaces will function more effectively, experts say.

Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to set up exchanges, according to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Kaiser Family Foundation. State officials estimate that about 486,000 people will obtain insurance through the Illinois exchange.

For the first year, Illinois’ exchange will be jointly run by the federal government, though state officials say it will shift to state control in 2015.

* Related…

* AARP-Illinois pushes for Obamacare

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - Downstater - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 9:22 am:

    =raise the retirement age for sergeants to 53; increase employee pension contributions from 9-to-12 percent by 2015 and scale it back to 10 percent when funding levels reach 80 percent; eliminate cost-of-living increases every other year; limit C.O.L.A. in intervening years to 2.5 percent with simple interest and raise health care contributions for new retirees to 2 percent of annuities.=
    The audacity of the Mayor to make such a proposal.
    My goodness how could anyone be expected to work pass age 50!?


  2. - Responsa - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 9:46 am:

    To tap into a comment on the Tillman thread, AARP isn’t exactly a non partisan independent spokesman either. They do some excellent support work for seniors and have for a long time. But their advocacy into broad other areas (especially areas involving their retail insurance arm and non seniors among others) is increasingly a sign of mission creep and is quite unfortunate.


  3. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 9:57 am:

    It will be challenged in court, but it doesn’t sound significantly worse than some of the state-level proposals re. the Constitution.


  4. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    The ACA proposals and Exchanges are getting a lot of coverage. The proposals all sound interesting, particularly for a small employer, but all of it seems based on an huge expansion of Medicaid.
    http://www.medicaid.gov/AffordableCareAct/Affordable-Care-Act.html

    The growth of Medicaid is often cited as part of the Fed’s and Illinois’ debt problem. Locally, it is becoming very hard to find physicians willing to accept patients on Medicaid. I simply do not recall reading or hearing how physicians will be encouraged to take more Medicaid patients and accept Medicaid level reimbursement. Not to mention Illinois’ timely payment cycles these days.

    Throw 1.2M Illinois residents into ACA. Then take a SWAG at how many employers will drop their health insurance, pay the fines (which are lower than their current health insurance costs), and essentially add many more people to Medicaid. That 1.2M would exponentially grow. If physician practices become more selective where will these patients go? I can’t imagine Hospitals would be too thrilled about seeing their Medicaid volume double or triple if their current Medicaid payment do not cover their costs. I understand some reimbursement is better than no reimbursement, but volume does not always cover a loss. Seems a huge change in how medicine is practiced is coming.


  5. - shore - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 10:17 am:

    the average american male lives to their mid/late 70s now-retiring at 53 is almost absurd and why do you need $1,800 a year for a uniform allowance?


  6. - Chi - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    -the average american male lives to their mid/late 70s now-retiring at 53 is almost absurd-

    Would you force people to work until they die? How many years of retirement will you allow someone to live? If the contributions made and investments earned on 5 years of employment were enough to allow someone to retire with a full pension, why wouldn’t we do it? Because of some abstract sense that they haven’t worked long enough?

    The normal cost of these pensions is not high. The reason they are underfunded is not because they cost too much or because people retire too soon. Governments borrowed against them, that’s it.


  7. - Fed up - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    Hmm Chicago police pay 9% towards their pension now and are too g up to 12%. Teachers most pay nothing towards their pension. Many state employees pay 4%. Seems like the police are kicking in for their retirement a lot more than most. So dee if the city has been paying its share.


  8. - titan - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    @shore - aren’t police engaged in a dangerous/physical job? Can we expect people to do such jobs as long as other jobs?


  9. - Chris - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    “there’s no doubt that any such deal would be challenged in court as unconstitutional”

    Yeah, everything *could* be challenged.

    And undoubtedly some SGT who votes ‘no’ will be contacted to be the named plaintiff in a suit most likely funded by FOP. But that doens’t mean it could even so much as survive summary judgment.


  10. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Rather than scheming to divide the police union over chump change, Emanuel should focus on getting the police the resources to succeed in the city’s combat zones.

    There’s no hiding, anymore. Chicago has more murders than New York, a city three times its size.

    There’s no other issue. Everything else is spin.


  11. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Health Insurance Marketplaces (Exchanges) were an excellent Republican, free-market idea that has since been rejected by Republicans because it was embraced by Obama. Rs are going to regret opposing these things once people get the benefits of having a more open and transparent process of buying health insurance.


  12. - Tom B. - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    This was done in collective bargaining, so the constitutionality of it is irrelevant. It is absolutely a roadmap.


  13. - Union hater - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    Well said, wordslinger!


  14. - Bill - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 12:00 pm:

    Tom,
    The union does not have the authority to bargain away anyone’s constitutional rights. While there may be some legal validity to increasing contributions for benefits not already earned, skipping and lowering the COLAs and increasing the retirement age for anyone already employed or already retired is an obvious impairment that will get thrown out. It is not a road map it is a scam.


  15. - qcexaminer - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    Riffing on what word said, I say police pay should be tied to the # of murders/rapes/crimes in the city. Crime goes up; pay goes down. Crime goes down; pay goes up.

    If we can talk about teachers being held accountable for student performance, why not have law enforcement held accountable for doing their job of stopping the bad guys?

    It’s a plan so wacky it just might work.

    But not in Chicago. lol


  16. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    The union does not have the authority to bargain away anyone’s constitutional rights.

    With the possible caveat of offering the voluntary exchanging of these rights for something of comparable value.


  17. - iThink - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 1:38 pm:

    —Teachers most pay nothing towards their pension. —

    Where do you get this? Teachers pay 9.4%. If they forewent pay raises and had the district pay a pay a partial or full share of this, it really doesn’t matter - it all comes from the same compensation pot.


  18. - geronimo - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    Teachers do in fact pay 9.4% into TRS for their pension. And people need to realize that the five public pension systems are different. Teachers do not get “free” health insurance at any time in retirement. They have the option to purchase health insurance through TRIP, Teacher’s Retirement Insurance Program. Learn about the differences before making sweeping statements about groups of people.


  19. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    My understanding is that the CPD sergeants association membership must ratify the deal.Association president Aide was recently quoted as saying it will be a “tough sell.” I’ve known a few CPD sergeants. That comment may be one of the year’s greatest understatements.
    The constitution’s pension anti-impairment clause is pretty straight forward. Why would they hand over their rights like that? And wait until the rank and file start grousing. That alone will be enough to generate “nay” votes to maintain peace.
    Mayor Emmanuel needs boots on the ground. If the city can’t afford them, it should look to see if some sort of non-sworn peace officers are a possibility. I don’t know how that would work. But it seems the crime situation is going to deteriorate, unless the economy picks dramatically.


  20. - Meaningless - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    “Teachers pay nothing” for their pension !! I must have missed something during my 36 year teaching career. Where can I get my refund that was showing on my pay stub that I was indeed contributing almost 10% of every check to the pension fund? Some of these comments are exactly what the Big Boys like to see in support of their organized plan to destroy the middle class by pitting different interest groups against each other. The old adage … “United we stand, divided we fall” still holds true.


  21. - qaz - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 3:32 pm:

    Yeah, I am also wondering why any union would take that deal. Gut your future pension at an out-of-pocket extra cost (3% annual) which exceeds the bargained pay raise (9% over 4 years). You lose, lose and then lose some more. Something else must be going on here.


  22. - James the Intolerant - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 3:45 pm:

    Wordslinger, the Emanuel administration is only concerned about spin. Nothing else matters.


  23. - Meaningless - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 4:27 pm:

    qaz - the b.s. propaganda from those that want all the concessions is that “at least you’ll have a job and a pension to look forward to … down the road.” Ha! Ha! “We want to PRESERVE THE SYSTEM” for you!


  24. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 13, 13 @ 6:26 pm:

    Again coming for a loyal Democrat…. my 66 year old father works 100 hours a week and paid for his own health insurance, never coming close to the $75k a year that the average CPD member makes after 10 years.

    Considering that the average household went from 54K to 50K during the Great REcession and police officers (along with teachers) all got raises of about 2% a year, I obviously went into the wrong profession.


  25. - qaz - Thursday, Feb 14, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    @Anonymous, if a police officer’s job was so desirable and lucrative, why didn’t your father join the force? I am sick of everyone who grabbed the higher salaries, more perks, less onerous job conditions in the private sector who then want to turn around and be the dog in the manger about public sector pensions.


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