A guest blog BY JOHN PRINCE OF EAU CLAIRE FOR MARTY GREEN
Teachers talking “poor mouth.”
Jon Swedien’s front-page banner headline in Sunday’s paper properly belonged on the editorial page, as it was primarily a “recall Walker” propaganda piece. Deb Tackmann has been a long acclaimed teacher at North High. But now she has a little tarnish on her reputation. From reading this 76-inch column “puff piece” one would conclude that Deb’s pension would be in the mid-twenties.
Five years ago, a relative of mine retired at age 55 from teaching and coaching for thirty years from a Fox Valley high school. A year or so ago, he sent an email to his sister whining about not being able to make it on his $3500 monthly pension. From that I would guess that Deb’s pension after 36 years of teaching will be $4000. plus. And then she gets a stipend to pay for her health insurance? It is incredible that the taxpayers are stuck with these payments!
For the government employees, both active and retired reading this please be informed that defined benefit pensions in the private, profit-making sector are down to 15 percent of the workforce in the U.S. Even 3M dropped their pension plan for all new hires about five years ago and replaced it with a 401K plan for all new hires.
The private, non-profit sector is a different story. They still have defined benefit pension plans, but they are very modest. For example, at one local facility, a professional at a retirement salary of $60,000 with thirty years of service, and only at age 65, will get a pension of approximately $2,000 per month and then only if she takes the maximum benefit with no survivor continuance. And if she lives twenty years in retirement, there are no cost-of –living adjustments. The pension check will still be $2000 per month. Not so with Deb Tackmann’s pension. She will continue to get cost-of-living adjustments. Also, my former employer dropped retiree health insurance benefits in 1997. You can take Cobra for up to 36 months, but the premium for a family plan is north of $1500. So guess who continues to work until age 65? Not the school teachers.
And then there are the university retirees. One of the UWEC professors was bragging to a friend of mine recently about his $8,000 monthly pension. And I thought that he must have included his social security. But then I remembered the story of the full professor at UW-Madison who was convicted of a felony in federal court for stealing grant monies. The Wisconsin State Journal in citing the case added that his imprisonment would have no impact on his $120,000 yearly pension. After his nine years in prison, he accumulated over one million dollars! On top of that, we all paid for his prison stay with our federal tax dollars. Walker needs to change Wisconsin law. In Illinois, a former corrupt Republican governor lost his pension when he was convicted of felonies and went to prison.
I wonder what the hundreds of former Uniroyal workers living in the Chippewa Valley were thinking when they read the article? The labor force is trying to survive on fixed pension benefits ranging from $350 to $500 per month. Then they take $105 monthly out of their pension to pay for Medicare supplemental health insurance. And these former union members are expected to recall Walker?
Governor Walker is the best thing that ever happened to Wisconsin. He is the first Republican to ever be elected County Executive of Milwaukee County. And he was re-elected by a large margin. He replaced Tom Ament, a long time Democrat who was forced out of office for many improprieties. He engineered million dollar pensions for his top lackeys for one.