--Politicians have screwed up the finances at every level in Illinois (local, city, and state).
It is a shame that we have allowed the politicians to be so wasteful with out hard earned tax money and that the penalty needs to be paid by our public servants.
In the grand scheme of things, right now, $125.00 per month is not a bad amount to have to pay when you consider that there are retirees paying upwards of $1500.00 a month for their health insurance.--
Story at Chicago Tribune
Some retirees will pay for health coverage
By Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune reporter
6:02 PM CDT, September 19, 2013
Arbitrators have awarded Chicago police sergeants raises totaling 8 percent over four years, but their ruling also will require many new retirees to pay part of the cost of health care they now get free.
The three-member panel gave the city's 1,100 or so sergeants a tad more than the 7.5 percent increase the city had offered, according to a ruling released Thursday. The Chicago Police Sergeants Union had sought 11 percent increases.
The panel split the difference on health care insurance, requiring those ages 55 to 59 who retire after this year to pay 2 percent of their pension checks to that benefit. That's about $125 a month for sergeants who retire at the top pay level.
The city asked for 4 percent payments. The union wanted to keep free health care, which sergeants who retire at age 60 or older still will get. Those who retire before age 55 get city- and pension fund-subsidized health care that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration plans to phase out in a decision being contested in court.
The arbitrator "took both sides' arguments and came up with something in the middle on wages and health care," said Sgt. James Ade, union president.
The mayor was pleased with the ruling. "The arbitrator's award is a fair and balanced decision that recognizes the city's fiscal challenges by providing important financial relief to taxpayers while granting a modest but respectful wage adjustment for the members of the sergeants union," Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said in a statement.
But the union won arguments over supervisory duty stipends and tuition reimbursements, both of which the city had sought to cut back. Duty availability pay turned out to be a bit of a draw — it will not be diminished, but it also will not be increased for the first time in more than a decade.
The wage increases are retroactive to July 1, 2012 — a day after the previous contract expired. Paying those retroactive raises is expected to cost the city more than $2 million.
The much-larger Fraternal Order of Police, whose contract expired at the same time, continues to negotiate with the city, said Mike Shields, president of that organization. If the FOP or Chicago Firefighters Union were to get better raises, the sergeants would get the same deal because of a "me too" provision in the contract.
Talks between the city and FOP have been tense, in part because Shields has been an outspoken critic of Emanuel's efforts to reduce pension benefits moving forward.
The Emanuel administration contends it won't owe rank-and-file cops back pay for the first year of any new contract because the FOP missed a notification deadline for new talks. That matter is now before the Illinois Labor Relations Board.
Earlier this year, Shields opposed a new sergeants contract that came with a 9 percent salary increase and, more significantly, modifications to pensions that Emanuel called a "blueprint" for other union agreements as the mayor seeks to cut retirement costs. Although sergeants union leadership had signed off, membership rejected that contract proposal by a wide margin.
Lurking in the background of all the contract talks are Emanuel's efforts to make changes to the pension system, which the arbitrator's Thursday ruling does not affect. If the state does increase the required sergeants' contributions to the pension system, the sergeants' contract could be reopened solely on the issue of wages.
Like the rank-and-file police officers, Chicago firefighters are working without a contract after their last pact also lapsed June 30, 2012.
Firefighters Union Local 2 President Thomas Ryan was traveling to a firefighter memorial in Colorado and unavailable to comment Thursday. Ryan told the Tribune in the spring that "substantive talks" with the city had not taken place since late summer 2012.