Pension Abuse: Work a Day, Collect a Few Million

Pension systems of all types and sizes seem to be in some form of financial trouble. And yes, there are various stories of people taking advantage of loopholes to improperly, if not illegally, benefit.

But this is a bad one about teacher union lobbyists who became substitute teachers for a day in order to be in line (based on their lobbyist salaries) for big paydays down the road.

The Education Action Group reported the following:

The Illinois Teachers Retirement System, by the way, is millions of dollars in debt. That means it currently lacks the funds to meet its obligations to real teachers who will retire in the future and genuinely deserve their pensions.

One of the lobbyists, Steven Preckwinkle, will receive about $2.8 million by the time he turns 78 and $3.8 million by the time he turns 84, according to media reports. David Piccioli will collect $1.1 million by the time he’s 78 and $1.7 million by the time he’s 84.

The two lobbyists and the Illinois Federation of Teachers have paid approximately $230,000 into the pension system. Sounds like these two will make out pretty good.

But the story gets even worse. Now we hear about Reg Weaver, the former president of the NEA, who is drawing $242,657 per year from the Illinois state teachers pension system, based on his top salary working for the union. Most teachers pensions are based on their top salary earned in the classroom. Weaver topped out at $60,000 before he went to work for the union.

All of these situations were created by loopholes in a state law that allow union officials to tap into the teachers pension program. As Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield told Education News, "The people that are on the inside and understand the process are going to be able to make the system work to their advantage."

Sadly, it’s the taxpayers and average teachers on the "outside" who get the raw end of the deal.