Retired City worker, Chuck Lomanto.
Can public employee unions bargain away the retirement benefits of public employees?
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled again today that public employee retirement benefits are a contractual and constitutional obligation that cannot be diminished or impaired.
They ruled again. For the third time.
And no union leaders can bargain away our contractual and constitutional pension benefits and rights.
Public employee union leadership in the We Are One coalition tried to do that when they bargained SB2404 with Senate President Cullerton. That bill included a freeze on our COLA.
The Court never had to rule on that because the Cullerton bill never made it to the House, substituted for by SB1. SB1 was ruled unconstitutional last year.
City lawyers argued before the Court that the City pension theft was legal because unions had agreed to go along.
The Court rejected this argument.
In this case, it is undisputed that the unions were not acting as authorized agents within a collective bargaining process. Thus, we need not resolve whether the vote taken by union representatives as expressed in the Brandon affidavit bound members of the Funds in a collective bargaining process. Rather, we agree with the trial court that “these negotiations were no different than legislative advocacy on behalf of any interest group supporting collective interests to a lawmaking body.”The individual members of the Funds have done nothing that could be said to have unequivocally assented to the new terms or to have “bargained away” their constitutional rights. Accordingly, nothing in the legislative process that led to the enactment of the Act constituted a waiver of the Funds members’ constitutional rights under the pension protection clause.
After three rulings, we can hope that our elected officials will stop the nonsense and address revenue.
I wouldn’t bet on it.