Illinois pension protection. Will the unions back down?

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.

3 Replies to “Illinois pension protection. Will the unions back down?”

  1. Rauner allready said twice. In the contract that he is trying to shove down AFSCME is a choice on retiree healthcare. You will recall that that was declared a retirement benefit that can’t be diminished under the Kanerva decision. It was referred to more by the court than the sb 1 decision. Its the reason you guys had a lot of confidence then. Rauners choice in this contract is a doubling of premiums or give up your retiree healthcare. AFSCME was prepared for the forced strike but didn’t have to get because of a surprise good decision by the labor board. The Kanerva suit was by the IFT as well as AFSCME and retired judges. IEA did not participate. Anyway Rauner wants the same forced choice on pensions…he can’t threaten healthcare like Cullerton did before so the plan is to make future raise pensionable or give up the AAI. Its unconstitutional and I don’t know what IEA will do but I am sure AFSCME will fight. They could use help too if Rauner is able to force a strike in November.

  2. Madier just plain can’t read the last decision. The ILSC was referring to an increase in benefit that SURS got which require a higher deduction…I know what it was but that will make the pension haters head explode.It is very different than the so called Cullerton or Rauner choice in the AFSCME contract which is a choice between having your leg or arm cut off. Madair is wrong in saying the law is vague. It is not The SCOTUS made forced choice clear in the obamacare decision.Medicaid was a forced choice in it and Illinois joined t wisely under strict conditions.

  3. Fred your vocalizing what I have said from the first call with We are ONE when they said, Pensions are a promise. No, in fact it is a constitutional right. They all seem so willing to share the pain and diminish our constitutional right.
    It is a Constitutional Right that NO union should be able to bargain away. I’ll be the first in line to sue my union if they do. It is not choice when one has to choose between not having health insurance or not having raises count towards retirement. Besides, it won’t save any money because those who are here and going in a few years won’t see any raises anyway.

    Where is the constitutional police when S1 was passed? Office holders when taking their oath of office, swear to uphold the Illinois Constitution (and not just the parts they like).

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