Don Rowley's letter of July 22 is critical of an earlier letter that suggested that "teachers should give back to help correct the pension dilemma." Mr. Rowley suggests "that teachers have given back during their entire careers by "faithfully educating our youth." Is that not their job? He suggests they have given back by "paying 9 percent of their salaries to the pension system." Teachers do not pay into Social Security. Private sector employees pay Social Security taxes at the rate of 7.5 percent or 15 percent if self-employed. So what are we saying here?
He further suggests that "teachers do not make the same high salaries as those in the private sector with equal education and training." That was once true, but survey after survey now demonstrates that teacher pay is comparable to private employers and total compensation, which includes cash and noncash benefits from time-off to pension plans and health care benefits, and finds that teachers now enjoy a better level of total compensation.
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I blame the teacher unions for leading teachers to believe that they continue to be underpaid, overworked and that their pay and benefits are inferior when compared to private industry. It is not right nor affordable that private sector workers and taxpayers are required to support their more generous compensation level.
The misuse of funds by Illinois government officials and the appeals being made are not excuses to promulgate rhetoric that scolds those officials. Instead, teachers, their union and Springfield need to recognize that teachers should have their pensions frozen at current levels and be replaced with a defined contribution plan similar to the private industry 401(k) plans. That is where private industry has gone; it is time for the public sector to do same.
David W. Koester