Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Administrative Bloat": Irascible Professor Blog

"Administrative bloat" is not on my Top Ten List of evil things in academia. Nevertheless, since this is a perennial issue at my campus, I pass along the following post from a blog in California.
HT: George Leef at NAS Blog

Saturday, July 2, 2011

AFSCME: Quinn "even lower" than Governor Walker

UPDATE: To their credit SIUC Unions United seem to have learned from 2011 and the run-ins with the Illinois Democratic establishment. See this latest story from their blog.

The Southern Illinoisan reports on Quinn's backpedaling on a deal negotiated with AFSCME, the union representing many local and state workers.

Here is another story on the union's response. Some choice excerpts:
“Today Pat Quinn has shown that his signature on such negotiated agreements is not worth the paper it’s printed on."
“Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Chris Christie of New Jersey and others have recently sought changes in law to eliminate the right of collective bargaining for public employees. By choosing to simply ignore a legally binding agreement, Pat Quinn has sunk even lower. Not only is Quinn’s assault on public employee collective bargaining unprecedented in the four decades of state employee bargaining in Illinois, given his repeated criticism of Walker and others, it is utterly hypocritical."
This past year union negotiations bogged down at SIUC. There are many factors at play but anyone watching Springfield knew that the vast right-wing conspiracy theories, the obsessive demonization of Cheng, and the Support Wisconsin rhetoric was distracting from a simple reality: politicians of either party "go where the money is" (the old bank robber quote). Illinois politicians (both parties) made a helluva mess and went first after pensions (look for that again; Quinn stayed silent during the whole effort to slash union pension benefits). A massive "temporary" tax increase didn't close the huge gap so our future will be determined in part by what happens with SIUC negotiations but the greater threat to our future benefits is from Springfield.

And, no, at last word the Koch brothers were not behind Quinn, Emanuel and Madigan's recent measures. Liberal Chicago billionaires supported these changes. Exhibit A: Penny Pritzker, national finance chair for Obama in the '08 election, doing her part for/with Emanuel in undermining the ability of unions to strike in Cook County. For more on the reliably Democratic billionaires, read this piece.

I'm "shocked! shocked!" to find that leading Illinois Democrats, from the governor on down, will back stab unions. Say it ain't so! Where is Obama to chide our governor? Welcome to Illinois politics."See no evil, hear no evil" as long as the Democrats are in power.

Friday, July 1, 2011

State High Courts: Pension COLAs Can Be Cut Despite Constitution

Hot off

Colorado and Minnesota rule that pensions may be cut. Colorado's constitution had a pension clause, though not as strong as Illinois clause. Nevertheless, this is precisely what I warned about: the deepest cuts come by slashing away at the cost-of-living and capping at a "high" $106,000 amount (not so high in future dollars if you take inflation into account. Four percent inflation would cut the present value of that cap to less than $30,000 in a 36 year career! No matter how much you pay into the pension).

So far, the media has done no coverage on how the Illinois Supreme Court might rule on these issues. After all, the Constitutional language about "interstate commerce" was crystal clear until the New Deal: "interstate" meant "interstate"! But then it meant "anything that might possibly enter the stream of interstate commerce or indirectly influence it by not entering the stream of commerce." In other words, constitutional protections (of all kinds) ain't what they used to be.

If you plan on retiring with a State of Illinois pension, gird your loins for many more battles and join the SUAA. They not only lobby but keep you up to date in a way that no other group does.