U.S. teachers' union endorses action on pension abuses

Reuters News
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Posted: May 20, 2011 10:53 AM
U.S. teachers' union endorses action on pension abuses

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The nation's second-largest teachers' union on Thursday endorsed action on pension abuses after coming under criticism because of some cases of public employees receiving extravagant retirement pensions.

The American Federation of Teachers reiterated its longstanding support for well-funded and well-managed pensions for teachers.

"But practices like end-of-career spiking and double-dipping have to be addressed," AFT President Randi Weingarten said.

Spiking is when employees dramatically increase their pay in their final years of employment with overtime or negotiated bonuses, so that their pension benefits are inflated. Double-dipping is paying of both a salary and pension benefits to employees who are rehired after retiring from the same employer.

Conservative critics have accused teachers' unions of looking the other way at such practices and several state legislatures are cracking down on the abuses.

There have been heated battles between politicians and teachers' unions from Wisconsin to New Jersey over education reform and the power of public sector unions.

In California, for example, a Democratic sponsored bill to eliminate practices that increase workers pay in their final year has gained steam from both parties and with local labor groups.

AFT said it would continue to bargain for universal retirement coverage, shared responsibly of employers, employees and the government in securing retirement, benefit portability, and government oversight of funding and risk management of pension funds.

(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Greg McCune)