Among Wisconsin public employees filing for retirement are Mary and Len Herricks, both teachers in Oshkosh. They put in their papers in mid-March after lawmakers voted to rein in most public-employee collective-bargaining rights.As an educational matter, the parents and children of the Oshkosh school district may, indeed, miss the Herricks. But as an economic matter, their departure from the payroll will not represent a significant loss to their home community (assuming they stay there). As similar stories are played out in state capitals, municipalities and school districts across the country, a net reduction in jobs vacated by public-sector retirees will not have as great a negative impact as the elimination of a similar number of private-sector jobs previously held by workers lacking generous, guaranteed retirement nest eggs.
"Not only am I losing salary and benefits and facing a bigger work load, but now they are taking away my rights," says Ms. Herricks, a 56-year-old elementary school teacher. A teacher for 35 years who earns in the high 50s, Ms Herricks can now retire and collect nearly her former salary. "Retirement was supposed to be something happy. I'm so sad."
When the Herricks retire from Oshkosh, they each will receive health insurance until age 65, pension checks and a payment worth $600 per year of service.
"I wouldn't want to risk losing those things," says Mr. Herricks, a high school agriculture teacher who is retiring after 37 years.
Given that pensions are off-limits to certain taxes, Mr. Herricks says they will bring home close to what they did before. They also plan to substitute teach ...
That's why stories like this one need to be taken with a grain of salt.
(Although the Journal article does not mention it, the wave of retirements also reflects the sweetening of early retirement incentives by a number of states and localities. In other words, public employees already eligible for a relatively sweet retirement deal have been offered, and are naturally accepting, an even sweeter deal.)