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The in box. Draw a line and let the courts decide.

May 16, 2012

Fred

I read your blog about negotiating with the GA. I agree with you wholeheartedly.  We shouldn’t.  
 
Here is an email I sent Klickna and the IEA team back on 4-22.

–todd
 
Cinda’s response:
 
Well, our polling data indicated our members want us to engage, advocate, and raise issues. 
Cinda 
  

 

Subject: Labor Coalition Should Negotiate Nothing Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2012 20:37:20 -0500

IEA Team:
 
Many of us believe that it would be crazy for the IEA and Labor Coalition to negotiate ANYTHING away.  The IEA and Labor Coalition need to draw a firm line in the sand and say “NO.”  Here is why:
 
It is clear that the GA wants to test the constitutionality of “impairing and diminishing” the pension benefit rights of IL public employees.  As you have mentioned on the IEA site or in a report, there is already a test case (HB4513) speeding through the GA regarding the Water Reclamation District.  
 
Why negotiate anything away before the constitutionality of any of these bills are determined?  They want a court case.  They will get a court case whether or not we try our hardest to avoid it.  If we do negotiate, and HB4513 and Quinn’s forthcoming bill are deemed unconstitutional, we will have negotiated away benefits unnecessarily–benefits that we have paid for and earned.
 
We do have one of the strongest pension clauses of any state.  We will need it.  We believe we need to gear up for litigation now.  The GA is going to test it regardless.  
 
Myself and others were thinking about this concept of negotiating unnecessarily and then I read one of Glen Brown’s recent blogs and he says almost the exact same thing:
 
What remains to be asked are four questions for the public employees’ union leaders: 1) Why bargain away any of the public employees’ “constitutionally-guaranteed” rights and benefits, even if the so-called “high-ranking members of the legislative leadership” are present? “A public employee obtains ‘vested rights’ in the Pension Code provisions relevant to pension benefits when the employee becomes a member of a pension system by making his or her initial employee contribution to the system. In addition, the Clause protects pension benefit rights as an enforceable contractual relationship” (Madiar 36). 2) Why modify the “constitutionally-guaranteed” Clause “through contract principles” when Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and others have made it quite clear that they want “the courts to decide” whether the Clause will withstand another assault once again? 3) If union leaders believe they are compelled to bargain in this “New Reality” with Illinois policymakers, how about challenging the “non-constitutional,” self-proclaimed entitlements and exorbitant benefits of the wealthy elite and their corporations instead? At least this ethical investigation for justice will not end up in court and waste the taxpayers’ money. 4) Better yet, instead of an amendment to create a need for a super majority to increase any benefit for an individual working for the state (HJRCA 49), why not create an amendment to move towards a graduated tax rate in Illinois that will address the lack of revenue needed for paying debts owed?  
 
Quinn really stabbed us right in the back. To think of all of hours we spent at the IEA phone banks in Naperville calling teachers to tell them that Quinn supported us and our pensions. We are extremely pissed at Quinn.  Any teacher who is not is a fool.  Did he forget that he beat Brady by less than 1% because of our hard work?  Time we spent away from our families and children campaigning for him because he said that he would protect us?  
 
Just check out my attachment I saved from IEA–the Quinn/Brady comparison.  Quinn claims to “oppose any reduction in current member retirement benefits.”  He also “supported a progressive tax system” not even two years ago.  Shame on him.  Now he wants to toss us on our heads basically into Tier II–and pay more for it.  
 
Quinn didn’t mention one component in his plan about revenue solutions–and there are many.  Shame on him.  
 
Perhaps Quinn put out an extreme plan as a scare tactic and really intends to meet somewhere in the middle–of course a classic negotiation strategy.  Teachers could be faced with a really bad pension plan instead of a super bad pension plan.  
 
Quinn’s plan is clearly unconstitutional–even he has to know that to be true.  In his plan announced on Friday, teachers would be given the choice between two plans that both severely “impair and diminish” our pension benefits.  AZ and MI both recently sided with the teachers in court–and both have strong pension clauses like ours.
 
It is interesting that the IEA member survey conducted in February, 65% said that we should negotiate.  I haven’t met any teacher, retired or active, who wants to negotiate.
 
As always, I value your thoughts and comments–even if very brief.
 
–Todd Mertz
One Comment leave one →
  1. May 17, 2012 10:08 am

    This is absolutely correct. Teachers are so weary of the fight that seems to have been constant for years! But precedent has been established that supports other states’ constitutional language about pensions! I never understood why anyone would agree to give anything of ours away when we’ve entrusted them to protect us?

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