A letter from the President of the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association and sent to the Editor of the SunTimes:
As all of you have heard by now, Mayor Emanuel has announced his Roadmap to Retirement Security, an effort to reduce the city’s liability by 40%. It was suggested that either his plan be adopted, or property taxes would have to be raised 150%. It’s hard to fathom that these are the only two options. The Mayor acknowledged that the “city employees… have done what was required of them with every pay stub.” How can those very individuals bear the majority of the burden to correct a system broken by legislators that kicked the funding down the road to crisis. Every employee who signed on with these governmental agencies did so knowing their obligation to duty would be rewarded by a modest pension plan defined from the start. The employees and pensioners have fulfilled their end of the bargain, only to find that right before retirement the Mayor wants to back out of the agreement. Although there is no proposal in writing, the direction is clear.
One of the many points of this plan that causes great concern is the suspension of COLA, or Cost Of Living Adjustment. The Mayor stated that that a city employee who retired in 1995 with a $60,000 pension collects $100,000 today. If the guy that did the math for the Mayor is the same one that crunches the pension numbers, it is no wonder we are facing these problems. A Police Officer at the maximum salary in 1995 earned $51,552.00. If he endured more than 32 years on the job, he would be entitled to 75% of his salary, or a $38,664 a year pension. Now add a 3% COLA increase per year (appx $1160 – which is not compounded per our system) and you have the pensioner collecting $58,382.64 per year. This is a far cry from the increase suggested by the example given in the press release from the Mayor’s address to the General Assembly. Furthermore, it is this type of example that invokes the outrage of tax payers that are relying on the facts as presented. It is an injustice to all parties concerned.
At the heart of this issue is the service that was given by members of public safety agencies. Police and Fire Department employees put their lives on the line every day. We have been injured, spit on, shot at, and had buildings fall on us, and have seen friends pay with their lives, yet we go back for more. Many say that is our job. We accept that and knew it going in. We also knew that we would have paid for and earned a modest pension for our labors. All we ask is that the Legislators, the Mayor, and anyone else listening stick to their end of the agreement. As Mayor Emanuel said, we have done everything that was asked of us.
If and when legislators move forward with this plan, all of you will be called on to reach out to your Representatives and let your voice be heard. Make sure you reach out to all the family members and friends that have witnessed the toll your commitment took on you and your family, and have them ask their Representatives to honor the commitment that was made to you when the job was taken.
Chicago Police Lieutenants Association