Rahm says SEIU 73’s Boardman can bargain away employee pensions. I don’t think so.

Christine Boardman

When city unions filed suit against Rahm’s pension cuts, Rahm said the cuts were good because he bargained them with city unions.

Those unions included Bricklayers District Council, Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW 134, Iron Workers District Council, IUOE 150, IUOE 399, Laborers’ District Council, Pipefitters 597, Plumbers 130, Sprinkle Fitters 281 and Christine Boardman’s SEIU 73.

The unions suing Rahm because he has violated the pension clause of the Illinois Constitution are the Chicago Teachers Union, AFSCME Council 31, IFT-AFT, Teamsters Local 700 and the Illinois Nurses Association.

Boardman’s SEIU 73 is notorious for agreeing to concessions with the Mayor and is a donor to his re-election campaign.

The legal question is whether union leadership can bargain away constitutional pension guarantees.

Since no single union represents all of the members in the pension funds, the answer is no.

This is in some ways similar to what took place between the state-wide coalition of public employee unions, the We Are One Illinois, and Senate President John Cullerton.

We Are One, hoping that they could hold off a more draconian pension theft bill designed by Representative Elaine Nekritz and Speaker Madigan, bargained an alternative Senate Bill 2404.

SB 2404 did steal less of our pensions. But it conceded on the principal of the constitutional promise that public employee pensions can not be diminished or impaired.

Pension members not represented by the We Are One Illinois coalition balked at the deal. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association said that no matter what deals were cut between union leaders and politicians in Springfield, they would go to court to protect the pension protection clause.

The result was that SB2404 died. Senate Bill 1 passed. Judge Belz ruled it unconstitutional. And now we wait for an expedited ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Union leaders like Christine Boardman of SEIU 73 cannot bargain away constitutional rights with the Mayor.

No matter how much money exchanges hands.


19 thoughts on “Rahm says SEIU 73’s Boardman can bargain away employee pensions. I don’t think so.

  1. Rahm likes breaching contracts with the people who can not or will not provide him campaign donations but the meters oh no he would not do that.

  2. Thats really sick Fred. What happened to the days of real unions. Karen Lewis seemed to have that spark and especially against mayor 9 fingers. I think the year was 1968 or 69 our union president Tony Esposito (local 1001labors union) told the REAL Mayor Daley to go “f” himself over a job dispute (which union should supply the manpower to perform a specified task and if i remember it was a matter of 2 people involved). We were out 3 days ,but it showed the respect and trust between the union and its members just as Ms Lewis and her people had for each other. After that i dont recall another problem with the REAL Mayor Daley in fact the Mayor and our President were friends before and after this incident. The REAL Mayor Daley was for the working man and families. He loved his city and always seemed more comfortable around the everyday people than the ceo’s. Between both of the last 2 mayors Mayor Minimo (the i wanna beat daddys terms in office) and Mayor 9 Fingers the working class has been shoved aside and some of the unions felt comfortable with that.
    I retired from the city after 36 years of service, i once had pride and love of Chicago but that same city has become chitcago to me

  3. Fred,
    Your law degree is from where?
    Didn’t justice Roberts show you the law and supreme court justices are magical, they can read the minds of the folks that wrote the law. It’s not always as simple as it appears.

      1. Lawyer chiming in here. The Appellate Court here in Chicago held in April that current CTA employees had no standing to contest the union bargaining away their retirement health benefits and the only recourse for current employees was to file a breach of fair representation action against the union. In September, the Illinois Supreme Court decided to accept an appeal of that decision. The Appellate Court decision was based on many grounds and issued pre-Kanerva. I do not know precisely what issues the parties brought to the Supreme Court. I have linked to the Appellate Court opinion. The bottom line is that we should not be complacent and think that the unions may not succeed in selling out older employees. It is entirely possible that the Court could decide both that pensions are constitutionally protected and decide that the unions have the power to give it all away. http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2014/1stDistrict/1123348.pdf

  4. Rahm is using blackmail on some of the unions, threatening to contract out their work to non-union contractors. They look at the ex-CPS custodians being thrown in the street, and realize how unscrupulous Rahm is. Rahm is using Christine Boardman as a pawn in his bigger game of getting around the Illinois Constitution public pension protection clause.

  5. Well, I am no lawyer either. But I have a question about these unions that signed off on pension theft for city employees. If a stay is granted am I of the understanding only the unions that filed lawsuit will continue to receive their benefits? And if ISC overturns pension theft will that only effect that unions that filed?

      1. Glen,
        What does this mean in the context of the discussion as to whether a union has the right to bargain the pension on behalf of those they do not legally represent?

      2. Whatever the union negotiates covers those who serve in a job which is part of the bargaining unit but who have opted out of membership, the so-called fair share employees. I don’t think a union deal automatically applies to those who work in jobs not included in a bargaining unit. For example, a non-union managerial employee.

  6. A non-lawyer here, just a retired State Trooper. Would we (retirees) be covered in the below U.S.Supreme Court case Allied Chemical v. Pittsburgh Plate Glass?

    Any opinions from attorneys would be appreciated.

    Unions can’t negotiate pension cuts on behalf of retirees in RI

    January 29th, 2012 at 12:45 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi’s Notes, On the Main Site
    Mike Stanton and Tom Mooney have a solid story in today’s Projo about the challenge Mayor Taveras faces in trying to claw back those hugely expensive pension COLAs granted back in 1989. What many people don’t seem to understand – including some powerful folks at the State House – is that Taveras can’t hammer out a deal with the unions because the unions don’t represent the retirees.

    That’s not my opinion – it’s the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s. Here’s how the city explains it (emphasis mine):

    The Rhode Island Supreme Court stated in Arena v. City of Providence, 919 A.2d 379, 389-390 (2007) that (a) the plaintiff retirees were not members of or represented by unions; (b) the plaintiff retirees are retirees and, as such, cannot be treated as employees as the United States Supreme Court found in Allied Chemical v. Pittsburgh Plate Glass, 404 US 157 (1971); and (c) the plaintiff retirees do not share a “community of interest” with active union members as current union members and retired members could have adverse interests. Note that these assertions were within the context of the Firefighters union attempting to “arbitrate” the COLA fight with the City. If the Court found the retirees to be union employees, the COLA benefits would have been arbitrable. The Court did not find the retirees to be union employees nor represented by the union and, as such, the dispute was not arbitrable.

    1. Great link, Rick. Everybody should read this. It is on page 12 under the bold letter heading……..Unions and employers cannot negotiate to eliminate vested benefits.

  7. Yes, the Matthews case let the lawsuit go forward for those already retired. But how about someone who has 20 plus years into the system and is getting close to retirement? How is it fair for a union to bargain away that person’s past accrued and earned retirement benefits for an increase in the future benefit of some other younger employee?

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