But Right to Work Law Bars ‘Forced Dues For Misrepresentation’
This spring, Kentucky was one of a number of states in which government union bigwigs helped incite some rank-and-file teachers to engage in illegal strikes that shut down K-12 public schools.
Americans overwhelmingly support higher pay for hardworking and effective teachers, and when necessary in order to fill particular teaching positions with qualified individuals.
Of course, these are not the aims of teacher union bosses and the other radicals who collaborated with them to orchestrate the recent school strikes.
In fact, a key objective of the Kentucky job action was to protest a modest, but worthwhile reform of the Bluegrass State’s teacher pension system, which has been grossly unfair to younger teachers as well as to taxpayers.
On April 11, pro-Right to Work Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed into law S.B.151, which constitutes a good first step towards solvency and equity for a state public pension system that is universally regarded as one of the worst-funded in the country.
Unless Big Labor Kills Pension Reform, Newly Hired Teachers Will Be Better Off
“Reform for the pension plans covering schoolteachers and other public employees is obviously necessary,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King.
“Kentucky faces more than $62 billion in unfunded pension liabilities over the next few decades. Well over half of that enormous debt is accounted for by teacher pensions.
“Teacher union pensions are underfunded by an estimated $33 billion even though the state and its districts have more than doubled their contributions into the plan over the past 10 years.
“In the face of this severe crisis, S.B.151 makes no changes to current retiree benefits, and only includes minor changes, mainly concerning how sick leave is calculated in benefit formulas, for current teachers.
“But S.B.151 does require teachers and other public employees hired in the future to put nine percent of their salaries into the pension plan.
“Employers will contribute an additional eight percent.
“Since Kentucky teachers do not pay Social Security taxes, these changes are not especially onerous. In exchange, future public employees will get back everything they and their employer have contributed, plus 85% of all investment returns, when they retire.”
According to education policy expert and former Obama Administration official Chad Aldeman, thanks to S.B.151 new Kentucky teachers will accrue nearly $85,000 apiece in retirement savings during their first 10 years on the job, compared to just $32,000 under the old system.
Of course, S.B.151’s superior retirement benefits for future teachers, plus an estimated $300 million in unfunded liability reduction, will never materialize if Organized Labor succeeds in killing this reform in the cradle.
Union-Label Attorney General Suing to Overturn S.B.151 at Big Labor Bosses’ Behest
Even as union militants protested S.B.151 in the streets this spring, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) did union bigwigs’ bidding by initiating a lawsuit against the governor and legislative leaders of his own state to prevent the law from taking effect.
Teacher and police union bosses joined in the legal challenge.
Going all-out to perpetuate unaffordable pension systems benefiting a minority of teachers at the expense of the rest is just one way the union bosses who wield monopoly-bargaining power over thousands of teachers in Kentucky and millions of teachers nationwide damage our schools.
Teacher Union-Boss Rules ‘Do Nothing To Address The Needs of Students’
Ms. King explained:
“As Wall Street Journal editor Jason Riley recently noted, teacher union chiefs support work rules that ‘shield teachers from meaningful evaluations, and that require instructors to be laid off based on seniority instead of performance.’
“Mr. Riley added that such work rules ‘do nothing to address the needs of students.’ He’s absolutely right.
“And he could have gone on to say, with equal accuracy, that the counterproductive work rules government union bosses foist on schools using their monopoly-bargaining privileges and/or their political clout do nothing to address the needs of conscientious and talented teachers.
“But at least there is a silver lining in Kentucky and the 27 other states that have Right to Work laws on the books prohibiting forced union dues and fees as a condition of employment:
“Thanks to Kentucky’s Right to Work statute, adopted just a year and a half ago, union bosses are explicitly barred from extracting ‘forced dues for misrepresentation’ out of the pockets of educators and other employees.”