State lawmakers attack pension abuses

SPRINGFIELD -- House lawmakers attacked union pension abuses on two fronts today in response to


Tribune/WGN-TV investigations, including weekend stories exposing how two lobbyists can get public teacher pensions for a single day of substitute teaching.

The Tribune/WGN-TV reports detailed how Steven Preckwinkle, political director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow union lobbyist David Piccioli jumped through a small window that allowed them to count their years in the teacher union toward a state teacher pension.


The two lobbyists had no prior teaching experience before they substituted a day.


Jack Franks

, D-


, said he will introduce legislation to block them from the pension system, saying the 2007 law the two lobbyists used is an "obscene loophole." Franks called on Preckwinkle and Piccioli to resign their lobbying jobs.

The union has stood behind the lobbyists, saying what they did was legal, though the union's president has said it should never be allowed again.

In other action, House Minority Leader

Tom Cross

, R-Oswego, advanced broader legislation aimed at other abuses uncovered by Tribune/WGN-TV investigations.

Citing the "outrageous stories," Cross slammed Chicago city employees who boosted their pensions in ways unavailable to the average citizen.

"We are attempting to make our state laws strong to prevent government employees from dipping into taxpayers' pockets to take more than they have earned," Cross said.

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee voted 9-0 to eliminate a 1991 state law that allowed Chicago city employees to retire with a city pension based on bigger union paychecks.

The action is aimed at the Chicago Municpal Employees Pension Fund, the Chicago Laborers' Pension Fund and the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Future employees would have to base their pensions on city salaries instead of union salaries.

The Cross package advanced to the full House for consideration.

It also would prevent a union official from getting pensions from both a union and the city of Chicago for the same period of work. That proposal is aimed at the Chicago Municipal Employees' Pension Fund and Chicago Laborers' Pension Fund.

The package would also require board members or employees of union pension funds to report fraudulent activity to a board's officials or local prosecutors.