The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

City Pension Attack

Apr 14, 2014

The Democratic Party-controlled Illinois State legislature just passed a plan worked out by Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It makes workers and retirees pay for the city’s under-funded pensions. City workers will pay more and get less, all so the Democrats can continue to hand out billions to big business.

The Mayor says the municipal employee and laborers’ pension funds are severely underfunded, which is true. But this is because the city refused to make its required payments to the funds year after year, even though city workers had contributions taken from their checks.

While this was going on, every year since 2007, more taxpayers’ money was given in subsidies to businesses than was put in pension funds. Since 1986, 5.5 billion dollars of property tax money has been siphoned out of Chicago’s general fund into TIFs (Tax Increment Financing). This money is used for business subsidies at the Mayor’s sole discretion. Subsidies included 40 million dollars to S&C Electric Company, 27 million dollars to Bank of America and 24 million dollars to United Airlines, and many more millions to many others.

To keep this cash flowing to business, Emanuel wants 34,000 school lunch workers, janitors, laborers, and clerical workers to pay 11 percent of their wages into the pension fund, instead of the current 8.5 percent. In five years, this will cost the average worker an additional $1,500 a year. On top of that, he wants the 23,000 retirees, who are not covered by Social Security, to have reduced cost of living adjustments. This means their pensions will buy less and less in the remaining years of their lives.

This is part of the general attack on public worker pensions throughout the country. Don’t think it’s just Republicans. In Illinois, it’s Democrats carrying out the attacks. In other places, it’s Republicans. But the politicians are all trying to do the same thing: steal workers’ hard-earned retirement money in order to give ever-larger subsidies to the corporations.