Retiree Holiday Luncheon at Chicago Teachers Union

The Chicago Teachers Union Holiday Luncheon for retirees was held Wednesday, December 5, 2007, in the Wolf Point Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza. Approximately one hundred retirees filled the tables.

Marilyn Stewart, President of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), spoke to the retirees after the luncheon and mentioned three items:

1) All were urged to sign petitions asking that the windfall provision for Illinois teachers be eliminated. This would allow teachers in Illinois and other affected states to receive their full pension plus the full amount of social security that they have earned.

2) Retirees were asked to picket the next Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, December 19, because retirees have not received their correct pensions and teachers have not received the correct amounts in their paychecks due to problems caused by PeopleSoft, a new computer software payroll program.

3) Despite the requests by retirees for a more timely delivery of the Chicago Union Teacher (CUT) newspaper, Ms Stewart told retirees that the amount of dues paid by retiree members ($24 per year) did not allow the CTU to be able to afford the expense of mailing out the Union newspaper First Class to retirees. It was stated that it would cost the CTU an additional $36,000 to mail the Chicago Union Teacher newspaper first class for one year. This would amount to an extra $9 per year per retiree ($36,000 divided by about 4,000 retirees). It was suggested that retirees who wish to receive the newspaper First Class would have to pay $20 extra per year, not $9 extra per year per retiree. Other options were to download the paper from the CTU website. It took this Dial-Up iMAC 17 minutes to download an archived copy from September 2006. Even the June 2007 issue was not yet available for download. Other options for retirees were to obtain a copy from the nearest public school or wait for a bulk-mailed copy. Recent bulk-mailed copies have arrived as much as a month to a month-and-a-half late. By that time, the news is old and the scheduled events on the calendar are over.

Preceding Marilyn Stewart was Kevin Huber, Executive Director of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF), who spoke to the members about the pension fund. Our pension is funded at 78 percent. The downstate teachers’ fund is funded at less than our pension fund. The Chicago Firemen’s Pension is funded at 38 percent.

Mr. Huber urged all to vote against a new constitutional convention (CON-CON). Opening up the current state constitution would allow all sorts of unwelcome changes to be put into effect. The amount the Chicago Board of Education is required by the state to send to the Pension Fund could change in the future if the current provisions of the state constitution are changed by voters requesting a new constititutional convention. We were strongly urged to say NO to a constitutional convention (CON-CON) so that future retirees will have the same benefits current retirees now have.

The luncheon had begun with a social hour, followed by the lunch of chicken or salmon during which an orchestra played holiday music. Retirees were welcomed by Mark Ochoa, Financial Secretary, and Linda Porter-Milton, Treasurer, Mary Sharon Reilly, newly elected Functional Vice-President for Retirees, and Eugenia Hardaway. After the talks by Kevin Huber and Marilyn Stewart, retirees went home to enjoy the holidays. 

This article was originally published in the print edition of Substance for January 2008.


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