cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
I seem to know quite a few teachers, especially when I am sometimes uncomfortable being engaged in a discussion about Governor Walker or any of the major occurrences in our state of late. I am uncomfortable since I know that the changes being attempted (since those are in court now) to be permitted in teacher compensation and workplace rules are very sensitive. I am uncomfortable because these encounters are often in a more public setting that doesn’t lend itself to fully engaged conversations. I am uncomfortable because I don’t want to cause further angst to my friends and acquaintances than they are already experiencing. I am uncomfortable because there are aspects of the changes with which I am comfortable.
All that having been said, I hear things from these friends and acquaintances that I haven’t heard or read in reports. But they have heard or read these things from their union leadership or other union members. I hope that, between you and me, we can dig up the facts that exist in these instances. I’ll try to do that and I’d welcome any informed thoughts from those of you who are at ground zero.
One of the things that don’t ring true to me is this lament I hear regularly: “I’m afraid this will affect my pension that I’m already receiving”. “I have heard that we will get reduced amounts even though we are already retired and receiving benefits.”
I have spent quite a few years in what used to be a thriving industry, the pension industry. There aren’t many defined benefit pensions today. Most of the private sector defined benefit pensions were abandoned in favor of what are known as defined contribution plans, typically 401K or similar plans. Once the benefit had been purchased using the funds that had been accumulated, those earlier plans continued to pay the same amount unless and until, in a joint and survivor benefit election, the pensioner died leaving the spouse behind at which time a reduced benefit amount would continue to the surviving spouse for his or her lifetime.
There are likely things of which I’m unaware since I’ve been away from day-to-day involvement in the retirement industry for quite a while. I do understand that pensioners receiving benefits from certain state plans have been notified in past years that their benefits will be reduced due to lower fund earnings or outright fund losses as the market turned down, but that those benefits would be restored when earnings gains were again posted. I have also seen that in certain religious retirement plans lately. I thought that the majority of teachers would be receiving benefits from their union-run pension funds.
I have heard that some high level union leaders have intentionally, but maybe mistakenly, dispensed such information simply to agitate the membership. That may or may not be true, but I am sufficiently skeptical to presume that this may happen in some cases.
If you can supply information, I’d really welcome that. If you wish to remain anonymous, please simply click on my name at the top of this blog and you’ll be sent to my ‘curmudgeon corner’ e-mail box.
Thanks for your help. If there are myths we can correct, that would be helpful to our friends and acquaintances that are or were teachers.