In 2015 Glen Brown and I were elected delegates representing retired members to the Illinois Education Association’s Representative Assembly.
This was just prior to the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling that the legislature’s attempt at pension theft, SB1, was unconstitutional.
IEA President Cinda Klickna presiding over the IEA Representative Assembly (left). Glen Brown and I at the 2015 RA as elected delegates.
We expected, cautiously, that the Court would rule as they did rule a little more than a month later.
Glen, I and some other delegates had another concern. Once the court ruled, would our unions – those that made up the We Are One Coalition of public employee unions – go back to the legislature as they had already done once before with Senate President John Cullerton and bargain away our benefits?
We wanted an iron-clad promise that they would not bargain away what the courts would give us.
President Cinda Klickna and the leadership refused to make any such promise. “It would tie our hands,” the leadership said.
If only I could tie their hands.
The importance of an iron-clad promise not to bargain away what the courts gave us is slowly coming to light as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Cullerton and Governor Rauner try to figure out how to get around the court ruling.
To further understand all this, read Glen’s post today. It is a portion of a position paper by Eric Madiar, John Cullerton’s former legal advisor on all things pension.
First of all, be clear. Current retirees are as protected as protected can be. Unless they literally shred the constitution.
I believe current employees are also protected starting from the day they were hired and entered the pension system.
But Madiar provides some wiggle room and he thinks the court did too.
In brief, Madiar thinks current employee pensions can be changed through collective bargaining so as long as there is consideration.
Consideration, as we have explained many times, means offering something of equal or greater value in exchange for giving something up.
What might that be? Ah. That is the problem. We don’t know.
In the current Illinois budgetary atmosphere there is enormous pressure on unions to share in the pain, as the politicians and editorial boards say.
That is why we wanted an iron-clad promise on the part of the unions not to back down.
We didn’t want that for us retirees. They can’t touch us.
But for current (and future) employees.