Early retirement for teachers because of Covid-19

Teachers, who ordinarily would not retire until age 60, which is the sweet spot for maximum benefits, are now considering packing it in (“With No End in Sight to the Coronavirus, Some Teachers Are Retiring Early Rather Than Going Back to School,” Time, July 8).  That’s because some 20 percent of teachers feel their health is worth more than reduced pension benefits.

I completely agree with them.  Older teachers and those with preexisting health issues are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.  It’s a matter of survival.  No matter how hard they try, schools can’t guarantee them protection.  If the threat were not so severe, I doubt early retirement would be on their radar.  But what good is a full pension if it can’t be enjoyed in good health?

When I was teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, several teachers at my high school took early retirement because of the protracted stress they were under as a result of the changing student population combined with the new standards movement.  None of them regretted doing so.  I submit that more and more teachers will retire early when they calculate the risks.

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4 Replies to “Early retirement for teachers because of Covid-19”

  1. Seems like school systems could/should offer some form of long-term leave without pay (LWOP) to teachers who do not want to return to the classroom due to covid and for whom there is no virtual teaching slot available. The school system could attach whatever conditions it wanted to to the LWOP arrangement — that is, no right to immediate reinstatement mid-year, right to reinstatement only to available vacancies (that is, no “bumping” of a junior teacher from a slot at a desirable school), employee pays 100% of health insurance premium during the LWOP or loses the health insurance.

    When I was working as labor attorney for a large quasi-govt unionized employer, I (with the strong support of the union leadership) created this kind of LWOP program for the unionized white collar employees who needed to be out of work for medical or medical-related reasons for longer than their accrued sick leave and/or FMLA leave would cover. This was a win-win for the employer and the employees — we wanted to rehire the experienced employee in the future (not force the experienced employee to look for a job somewhere else), we paid no interim costs during the LWOP, we could hire replacement employees (since the LWOP employees had to wait for a vacancy and could not bump the more-recently-hired replacements), and the employee could retain his/her accrued pension time if/when he/she returned to work (as well as some aspects of his/her accrued seniority).

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  2. Labor Lawyer: United Teachers of Los Angeles is making outrageous demands that will lose them support from taxpayers. For example, they won’t return to work unless Congress passes Medicare for All and $500 billion more in direct aid. I support teachers’ unions, but these demands will be seen as extortion.

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  3. Strange tactic for the LA teachers union. Agree that voters will be turned off. And, doubt that anyone in Washington (except the CA senators and reps, who are mostly Dems and already favor M4A) cares much if LA teachers don’t come back to work. Wonder if there is some kind of internal political battle going on in the union that is forcing the current leadership to move far left to retain their positions?

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