TMA joins effort urging Chicago to restructure its failing pension system

CHICAGO – In early January, the Technology & Manufacturing Association joined other community watchdog groups urging Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson to consider hearing representatives of the Chicago business community’s concerns as the City tackles its growing pension crisis.

In their letter to Mayor Johnson, the Taxpayer Pension Alliance said Chicago’s public pension debts continue to put a strain on the city’s budget.

The debts threaten the future prosperity of its residents and its pensioners, the letter said.

The total official unfunded pension liability for the city and its sister agencies now exceeds $52 billion, the equivalent of $45,000 per Chicago household. By most measures, Chicago has the worst funded pensions among the nation’s largest cities.

At the press conference held in City Hall, TMA Vice-President Kent Gladish pointed to TMA members that are directly affected by Chicago’s budget and the demands it places on their bottom line. 

“Components you use every day are made right here in the Chicago area,” Gladish said, including: 

  • Alarm clocks

  • Coffee makers

  • 40k parts in automobiles

  • Valves in office toilets

  • Cell phone towers 

  • Light posts along the expressways

And key components for US pilots to eject from their fighter planes.

“Baby boomers now own these small/mid-size businesses. They are beginning to depart the industry by selling to large entities.  These new decision makers care less about the employees and could look for reasons to leave Illinois,” he said.

“Making it easier for everyone to be in Chicago is the best practice,” Gladish said.

The Taxpayer Pension Alliance, which includes Wirepoints, Illinois Policy Institute, the Center for Pension Integrity and the Technology & Manufacturing Association, suggested specific elements to include in correcting the pension crisis.  The elements were informed by the 2014 Blue Ribbon Panel Report written for the Society of Actuaries (SOA). 

The Taxpayer Pension Alliance’s suggestions include: 

  • A requirement to have any proposal scored by independent, professional actuaries.
  • A requirement to reach and maintain 100% funding for all plans within 20 years.
  • A requirement to reduce the burden on the next generation of taxpayers by adopting a level-dollar amortization schedule.
  • A moratorium on any benefit increases until plans are 100% funded.
  • A requirement to enroll participants in Social Security if Tier II plan provisions are found to be in violation of ERISA.
  • A ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment that replaces the current pension clause, giving the General Assembly the power to improve the retirement security of public sector workers while reducing the pension burden on taxpayers.


PHOTO: L to R: Ted Dabrowski, President of Wirepoints, Ed Bachrach, Founder, Center for Pension Integrity, Kent Gladish, VP of Technology & Manufacturing Association, Josh Bandoch, Head of Policy, Illinois Policy Institute


More on the January 2024 press conference here: