Here’s is IEA President Cinda Klickna’s message to IEA members about Senate Bill 2404.
She attacks the IRTA as a “single constituency advocacy group.”
Of course, the single constituency she means are the retired members of the IEA in TRS. We are a rather important constituency when discussing pensions.
The stuff about administrators is silly.
IEA-Retired has retired administrators as well.
I was speaking at a luncheon of the IRTA last week. When I asked for a show of hands as to how many had been in the IEA or were IEA-Retired, half raised their hands. The other half had been in the IFT.
We are the same constituency, Cinda.
The real problem with this letter to members is what it doesn’t say.
There is no mention of John Cullerton’s last minute addition to SB2404 which may require us to pay 100% percent of health insurance premiums. It would more than double the cost of health care premiums to those who are already taking a two year freeze on their COLA.
Some might want to ask President Klickna and the other members of the We Are One coalition why she doesn’t mention this?
To: IEA-R Members
From: Cinda Klickna, Kathi Griffin, Al Llorens
By now you have heard about SB 2404, the pension bill negotiated and agreed to by the We Are One Coalition (WAOI), of which IEA is a member. The other members of the coalition are other public employee unions.
We would like to take this opportunity to clarify the agreement to help you understand why the coalition agreed to SB 2404.
SB 2404 is backed by IEA elected leaders, retirees
IEA leadership entered into negotiations with Senate President John Cullerton with the full approval of the IEA Board of Directors. The board’s direction to us was to negotiate, if possible, to get the best outcome for our members.
Secondly, after the details of the Cullerton-Coalition bill were made public, the IEA Retired Council reviewed the provisions and voted to approve the agreement.
We know many of you have dual memberships in both IEA-R and IRTA and have wondered why the two organizations have two different positions. We will explain.
Unions vs. single constituency advocacy groups
IRTA solely represents retired school employees, including administrators. IRTA is not a union. It is an advocacy organization for retirees.
IEA represents a much larger, far more diverse group, made up of retirees and active employees working in higher education and in k-12 education. We also represent ESPs.
We represent very few administrators.
Every day, IEA leaders are dealing with the impact of the state budget on our members; ESPs are losing jobs, k-12 employees are being RIF’d and/or taking freezes. Higher ed members have had their classes cut, affecting their take home pay.
No one can dispute that the pension systems are in financial trouble. There is simply not enough money to sustain them for the years to come.
We, as an organization, are committed to fighting to make sure both our active and retired members get their defined benefit pensions.
SB 2404, the Cullerton-Coalition bill, is a choice model proposal that asks active and retired members to accept a benefit change in exchange for something of value. That concept is what gives the bill the greatest chance of being constitutional. And what retirees are getting in exchange for a two-year, non-consecutive freeze on their COLA is enforceable contractual access to state-provided healthcare.
IRTA and IEA have different views on its constitutionality.
The bill, which is 190+ pages, only became public on Monday, May 6. Immediately, IRTA claimed it had an opinion which says that that the bill is unconstitutional. And while opinions may differ as no court has directly decided the constitutionality of such a choice proposal, the IEA General Counsel, the WAOI attorneys and the Senate president’s attorney, who have had time to write and review every word of the proposal, however, have all agreed that the union-backed plan has the greatest chance of being found constitutional.
It is important to emphasize that enforceable contractual access to state-provided healthcare is not currently a contractual right.
The state could decide at any time to end access to state-provided healthcare. In addition, written into the bill is language that forces the state to fund the pensions, something they have not been required to do before, and makes that requirement a constitutional obligation.
This is the choice affecting current retirees (and Tier I Actives Already Set to Retire as of 1/1/2013)
- No change to 3% compounded COLA, except that COLA is subject to 2 non-consecutive 1-year freezes, and then return to 3% compounded COLA for life
- Receive retiree healthcare access
- No change to 3% compounded COLA
- No retiree healthcare access
We appreciate that retirees and actives are being asked to sacrifice, but we believe that this bill will help ensure that every IEA member will get the pension they have been promised.
We are a union. We must look out for each other.
It is regrettable that the IRTA won’t join with organized labor and support SB 2404.
As a union that is part of a labor coalition, we do not have the luxury of just saying “no” to any changes. A tremendous amount of work has gone into making sure this proposal is constitutional and fair to all.
Please tell your state Representative to VOTE “YES” on Senate Bill 2404, the Cullerton-Coalition pension bill. Stay informed about the latest developments by regularly checking the IEA website.