Response to a comment on the Waukegan strike

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The teachers are asking for a 9% raise. That fact floats to the surface easily. Less easy to quantify is the effect of the Board’s plan to make teachers and others pay for an increased proportion of their health care costs. Some teachers may receive a de facto pay cut.

Teachers will never see a raise of 9%. That number is a starting point in what is becoming a bruising battle. I am just throwing out this issue because the Board in Waukegan is trumpeting that 9% figure. If I make $40,000 per year, I certainly don’t take home $3,333 dollars a month. Federal income taxes, state income taxes, and FICA taxes eat a hunk of my check, somewhere between 15% and 20%. I still will pay sales taxes and other taxes. In Illinois, I may end up with substantial toll costs to get to and from Waukegan. I will be paying union dues as well as some portion toward my retirement in lieu of social security, which I will not receive if I have participated in the Teacher’s Retirement Fund for any length of time. When all is said and done, I may find I am taking home less than $1,000 per paycheck after I pay for health insurance. A substantial increase in my insurance payments leaves me with a net loss of income next year.

I don’t have exact numbers. I do have a quote from a former teacher in the district: “The administration’s request that teachers pay a “modest” share of the cost of single health coverage seems reasonable enough, until you look at the percentages employees are expected to pay for coverage of their spouse, child, or full family under the district’s offer dated Sept. 26th. Looking at all categories for PPO, HMO, Blue ADV, and HDP, the employee contribution ranges anywhere from a low of 61% for Spouse coverage in the HMO, to a high of 94% for Full Family coverage in HDP! Teachers simply cannot allow that door to be opened for single coverage. If it is, the initial “modest” sum will eventually grow to the percentages already mentioned – gobbling up most, if not more than, any pay increase the teachers would receive.”

Eduhonesty: In my previous post, I said this strike is not about money. I think I must amend that comment. It IS about money in the sense that the current settlement has the potential to represent a net pay loss to lower-paid teachers. The Board is acting deceptively when they talk about gross paycheck changes. What I make as a gross salary is virtually irrelevant. What matters is my take-home pay; that number determines whether I can fix my car or buy braces for my child. That number establishes where and how I can live.