RTAC chief warns retirees to be ready to lobby against attacks on defined benefit pension plans

More than 1,000 retired teachers filled the ballroom at the Palmer House on October 4, 2007 for the annual RTAC (Retired Teachers Association of Chicago) luncheon and election of officers.

In addition to endorsing the three candidates best suited to represent retirees on the board of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, RTAC also dealt with future problems facing the $11 billion fund.

RTAC Executive Director Bob Bures warned the retirees that no pension fund is safe from the attempts by politicians and right wing ideologues to end defined benefit pension plans, just as George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security.

Bures noted that in three years, Illinois will be taking a look at the state Constitution, and there are powerful forces lining up to try and end the Constitutional provision that protects teacher and other public employee pensions.

RTAC, with more than 10,000 members, dwarfs the relatively small retiree group in the Chicago Teachers Union, and with good reason. Given the track record of the CTU in giving away chunks of the pension in political deals with Chicago’s mayor and his political allies in Springfield, retirees have the right to beware of some of their “friends” as much as they need to be on the alert for the machinations of the privatizers and those who resent anyone who has earned a decent pension through a lifetime of hard work and devoted public service.

RTAC endorsed three candidates for the retiree trustees — James Ward, Walter Pilditch, and Vaughn Barber. Conspicuously not endorsed was Mary Sharon Reilly, who had just won the position of CTU “retiree functional vice president” under questionable circumstance.

A week after the RTAC meeting, retirees received a letter from a group calling itself “Friends of Mary Sharon Reilly” telling retirees to bullet ballot their pension votes to give Reilly a chance to win the election to the board of trustees.

One of those who supposedly signed the letter on behalf of Reilly was James Ward. In effect, the letter had Ward advising retirees to vote against Ward.

Ward sent a letter to retirees saying that he had never signed the letter on Reilly’s behalf telling people to vote against him. He also told Substance earlier that he hadn’t signed a letter sent out on Reilly’e behalf in August urging members of the CTU to vote for Reilly (against this reporter) in the vice president election.

Retired teachers who are also members of the CTU have begun corresponding by e-mail to rectify the many problems in the union’s approach to retirees. 


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