Real resistance.

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Later this month a group of old guys will get together for a celebratory lunch.

We celebrated last May as well.

What is there to celebrate about these days?

The value of real resistance.

Two years ago this month, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the legal and moral obligation of the state of Illinois was to adhere to the explicit language of the law when it comes to state worker pensions.

Our small group had been speaking, blogging and organizing for years against Democratic and Republican politicians, powerful corporate interests, and struggling with our own state union leadership. Our own unions leaders were quite ready to throw retirees under the wheels of any heavy vehicle driving by when it came to protecting our pensions.

We were not the only ones saying no. But we were few.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever does,” said Margaret Mead.

The leadership of the Illinois Education Association cancelled our Lobby Day scheduled for this day in 2012.

Park Ridge Education Association local members were mystified. It was like our union was quitting and running right in the thick of a battle.

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So we spent our own money for a bus , filled it with teachers, printed up some t-shirts, paid  for substitutes and wrote our lesson plans and went to Springfield in spite of the fact that our state union leaders told us not to.

Of course, we had no help from the IEA.

We collared legislators and tried to talk to Governor Quinn.

img_2415He wouldn’t see us.

No matter.

Because he sold us out on pensions, he’s not the governor any more.

The legislators, some who now aspire for higher office, wouldn’t listen and voted against us.

But in the end, we won.

And that is what is worth remembering and celebrating this month.

8 Replies to “Real resistance.”

  1. My good friend Fred Klonsky’s favorite paragraph in the IL Supreme Court ruling:

    “The General Assembly may not legislate on a subject withdrawn from its authority by the constitution (see Hunt v. Rosenbaum Grain Corp., 355 Ill. 504, 509 (1934); City of Chicago v. County of Cook, 370 Ill. 301, 306 (1938)), and it cannot rely on police powers to overcome this limitation. As we have already explained, there simply is no police power to disregard the express provisions of the constitution. It could not be otherwise, for if police powers could be invoked to nullify express constitutional rights and protections whenever the legislature (or other branches of government) felt that economic or other exigencies warranted, it is not merely pension benefits of public employees that would be in jeopardy. No rights or property would be safe from the State. Today it is nullification of the right to retirement benefits. Tomorrow it could be renunciation of the duty to repay State obligations. Eventually, investment capital could be seized. Under the State’s reasoning, the only limit on the police power would be the scope of the emergency. The legislature could do whatever it felt it needed to do under the circumstances. And more than that, through its funding decisions, it could create the very emergency conditions used to justify its suspension of the rights conferred and protected by the constitution. If financial markets were rational, this prospect would not buoy our economy, it would ruin it.”

  2. Fred, why is there no outrage regarding Trump saying the Constitution is an “archaic” document and that it is preventing him from making his changes? He just proved why the Constitution was written! I believe this is treason. Why hasn’t he been arrested? I know you don’t have these answers, but there has to be some outrage and some action. A good place to start would be calling our members of Congress.

  3. Thanks for standing up for the retirees. Health insurance costs for those of us without Medicare who made the choice to continue to live IN IL , will now be $875.10 a month. Those retirees who made the choice to move OUT of IL., will now be charged $437.56 a month. Take a look at CIP costs for the same plan… Take a look at SERs cost for the same plan… Take a look at the local costs for the same plan… I for one have had my pension diminished by more than $93,000 ! Hope some other people start to care & no more pension holiday skipping payments, as witness slips have shown who cares about retirees.

    1. Speaking of cutbacks, all retires in the “Trail” program are being charged more on many generic prescriptions. Last year generics were $10 a month. This year, many of the generics were increased in price to $50 a month. United Health Care gives the runaround answer of “that’s because they are “tier 3”, (now that United Health Care arbitrarily changed them from “tier 1”.) I looked at some other states and governmental agencies retiree plans with United Healthcare and found the same generic drugs are still “tier 1” and they still cost those retirees $10. Obviously, this changing of the price Illinois Trail retirees are forced to pay was done with the full permission of the state, we pay 5 times as much for the same exact generics then last year, while our fellow retires in other states pay the same as they did last year. This is a significant backdoor reduction of benefits by the state. It is causing “trail” retirees who are on important multiple generic medications to pay hundreds of dollars more per month to stay alive. This should be brought up by the organizations that represent retired teachers and other retirees.

  4. Fred, Thanks for all you do to keep us aware of social injustice. You have made a huge impact with your blog. I assume you are referring to Dan Biss as one who led the way to diminish our pensions and yet currently seeks the office of governor. Will the retired teachers and state workers who defeated Quinn do the same to Biss? Let us hope so. He cannot be trusted. I find myself informing others of his cavalier attitude toward pensioneers and their contractual, earned benefits. I believe he thinks we have forgotten.

  5. Ha, ha–the excuse offered by the IEA was that there was work being done on the Capitol Building (Fred, if you will, rerun the picture of that “work”–it was a tiny, off-to-the-side construction area. There were many other events there that day, including a student event–I believe it was the schools’ state science fair or some such–LOTS of kids in attendance (&, with SO much construction going on, wouldn’t it have been dangerous for them to be in the building?!)
    Also–to the best of my recollection–we were also told that there was lots of road work being done. Didn’t see that either. BUT–we were “treated” to a box lunch at the IEA office, allowed to park our bus in their lot AND met w/Kathy Griffin (Veep) & Jim (last name Grimes-?–& as to his title, enlighten me, Fred). I, for one, was underwhelmed at the last.
    But thanks, PREA Pres., et.al. (AND you had a really good UniServ Director!), for making that day possible. (Not a PREA member & newly retired, many thanks for graciously allowing me to attend–I still cherish the shirt!)
    Our presence was known.
    Oh–& can’t forget one of the Guv’s henchman (there were several) gave us the old “wuzza”–“Oh, my mom wuzza teacher.”
    The statement that makes all of it okay.

  6. Ann, I haven’t forgotten about Biss! I can’t believe he is running for governor! I think you’re right that he seems to have forgotten that he and his sidekick, Nekritz, were the architects of all those poison pill bills!

    I’ll never forget going to a Town Hall in Evanston. (I’m from Elgin) It was held in 2 rooms for the overflow. I held up a HUGE report card that I had made and proceeded to read every single thing he has done to teachers…. with a grade. It was strange that he smiled while I was letting him have it. Thought he had a strange reaction to someone who was slapping him in the face. Just shows you he just doesn’t “get it”!

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