Chicago union lobbyist sues for pension from working one day as substitute teacher

America is the land of opportunity, where any young kid with stars in their eyes can grow up to achieve prosperity and success through hard work and a little bit of luck. Or, they could sign on with a union.

Chicago’s David Piccioli is retired from the public sector. After working for a period of time as a legislative aide, Piccoli became a lobbyist for the Illinois Federation of teachers. Now, at age 65, he’s enjoying his golden years. Owing to where he worked, Mr. Piccioli is pulling in two pensions, each worth more than $30K. But thanks to yet another fabulous nugget in the legal code, he would like a third pension worth more than $36K in recognition of his work as a substitute teacher… work which lasted for precisely one day.

A union lobbyist who qualified for a teacher pension windfall by subbing at a school for one day is now suing a state retirement board because his benefits were scaled back once his sweet deal was exposed. Retired Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyist David Piccioli, 65, is arguing that lawmakers violated the state constitutional provision that says a pension cannot be “diminished or impaired” once it is set.

Piccioli is already collecting $31,485 from the Teachers Retirement System. If he wins his case, his teacher pension could increase by more than $36,000, the Tribune estimated — more than doubling what he gets now.

It seems that Piccioli actually managed to collect that third pension, but after the media reported on his cash bonanza the legislature took action to taper off payments in 2012. I’m guessing that David wasn’t subbing for the English teacher or, if he was, he somehow wasn’t acquainted with the word “shame” because he’s going to court to sue them and get the pension fully restored.

How? We’ve actually run across this legal tidbit in years past because so many of these stories come out of the Land of Lincoln. As is mentioned in the Tribune article, the state constitution mysteriously has a clause in it which says that once you have a pension assigned to you, it can never be removed or reduced in any way. (Gee… I wonder how that managed to get that one in there?)

As you may recall, shortly after being elected, GOP Governor Bruce Rauner launched an ambitious plan to begin to wrestle the state’s crippling public worker pension system to the ground and avert financial catastrophe. To listen to the responses from the state’s Democrats and the unions (but I repeat myself) you’d think he was pushing a plan to feed all of their children into a wood chipper. But this laughable case heading to the courts is just one of many examples of what he has to deal with.

The suction which the unions apply to the state’s finances is so deeply engrained that it is literally part of their constitution. The power they generally wield over elections makes it something of a miracle that Rauner was elected in the first place. I give the guy full credit for trying and wish him the best, but there may simply be too many alligators in that particular swamp for him to be able to drain it.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023