Look through the pages of this blog and you will find a great deal of angst over the likely low 2013 COLA for Social Security. In fact, between the COLA, the increase in Part B and Part D Medicare premiums many beneficiaries could see a net decrease in their monthly income.
The Social Security COLA is based on inflation and in likely to be barely more than 1% for 2013.
Compare that with the Chicago teachers whose average earnings are about $71,000 and who have to date rejected a wage offer of 3%, 3%, 2%, 2% over the next four years and have also rejected a change in rules that provide additional automatic raises for individuals based on service or attainment of advanced degrees and unrelated to added value or productivity. The unions last contract started in 2007 and since then inflation has only taken ten cents in buying power. The current inflation rate is 1.4%. Given the finances in Chicago, the typical total compensation package and inflation, the offer made by the city is generous.
Keep in mind that generous pension and retiree benefits add an additional 20% or so to the value of wages, something very few and a declining number of Americans can count on.
So, do teachers deserve more in total compensation than the average of the taxpayers they serve? Clearly the answer is yes. They perform an essential and valuable service and done right it is a tough job and not one that takes only eight hours a day. To think that qualified, dedicated teachers can be found and retained based only on the income of the taxpayers they serve is unrealistic in many ways
However, teachers do not deserve above average compensation without accountability and performance measures that are fair and balanced and they do not deserve increasing pay and benefits based only time served in the classroom. On the other hand we cannot reasonably hold teachers solely accountable for student performance when those students come from dysfunctional homes with little or no parental involvement and support.
I am guessing there are many good, dedicated teachers in Chicago and elsewhere who would rather be teaching than walking picket lines. But their ability to use their skills for their intended purpose is hampered by a union seeking self preservation and power as its top priority.