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Unions gear up for final push

Monday, Dec 2, 2013

* Stopping pension reform is an uphill battle for the We Are One Coalition, but they’re not ready to give up. As I told you over the weekend, union members and retirees are planning to meet with dozens of legislators today in their district offices.

President Carrigan talked about the numbers

Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said 25 “persuadable” lawmakers will be the subject of the most intense lobbying efforts. Carrigan declined to disclose names to The Associated Press, but said 8 to 10 lawmakers are targeted in the Senate and another 15 to 17 in the House.

“We’re certainly going to apply every ounce of energy that we can to prevent the passage of legal theft of lifetime savings,” said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, another member of the We Are One Illinois union coalition fighting pension reforms.

“Legal theft of lifetime savings” is probably the best rhetorical argument I’ve seen against this bill.

* The unions also say they’re angry at being cut out of final negotiations. But were they really ready to negotiate such a deal? Highly doubtful

Asked about ignoring the unions in reform talks, state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat and top pensions negotiator, said it has been clear that union officials would “not consider anything” but the original Senate proposal. “There didn’t seem to be a lot of benefit in trying to have a dialogue,” Nekritz said.

A Cullerton spokesman, Ron Holmes, says the Senate president has been briefing union leaders and is “aware of their desires.” But he said Cullerton now is pushing “a compromise that might be palatable” for the entire General Assembly, and is personally calling lawmakers to support the plan.

* I’m personally sympathetic to the unions’ constitutional arguments. I also can’t stand the idea of whacking the pensions of little old ladies (and men)

The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) cuts in the proposal erode the value of a person’s pension by nearly a third after 20 years in retirement and deprive retirees of thousands of dollars in income over the next five years, the [We Are One Coalition] states on its website.

Over the next five years, a nurse who retired from the state with a pension of $40,000 would lose $7,500, and a retired teacher who has a pension benefit of $60,000 would lose $14,000, the group said.

And

AFSCME’s Lindall said the cuts to the COLA would reduce the total value of a typical retiree’s pension payments by some 30 percent over 25 years of retirement.

And

Montgomery, whose teachers union is part of the We Are One coalition of public unions opposed to the plan, said his union’s calculations show that a person with a $50,000 pension who has worked for 30 years will have lost 80 percent of the buying power of his or her benefit 20 years into retirement.

But the reality is you don’t negotiate on a bill that you plan to oppose, and the unions always planned to oppose this bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


49 Comments
  1. - PublicServant - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    Rich, you can’t negotiate on a bill when the bill wasn’t there until (yesterday?…this morning?). Legislators are just seeing the draft today.

    When you want to truly negotiate something, anything, the first thing is that you don’t stake out a position in the boonies and then say meet me half way, and expect the other side to actually meet you there. Even if they did, the likelyhood is that when they got to the half-way point, the request would still be to meet the legislature half way from the previous half-way point…


  2. - PublicServant - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:40 am:

    ===and the unions always planned to oppose this bill===

    and some in the legislature always planned to shove it down state employee’s/pensioner’s throats.


  3. - walkinfool - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:44 am:

    “legal theft of lifetime savings” nice rhetorical flourish, devoid of any relevance to what this bill does.

    Sounds like he’s talking about confiscation of personal savings accounts or 401Ks, not diminishment of potential future benefits.


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:45 am:

    We live in strange times.

    Somehow, in some circles, borrowing money and not paying it back is a civic virtue. And lunch ladies, cops and janitors drove the world economy into the ditch because of their recklessness and greed.

    I can’t stomach it. I don’t dance to the tune of criminal elements like the rating agencies or cheap hustlers like Ty Fahner.


  5. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    @Public Servant:

    I’m on your side in the pension debate, but you can’t claim that the unions actually had any intention of negotiating anything where pensions are concerned. I’ve been involved in negotiations on various things with unions and some of them they have said no to before any talk ever began. We did what we wanted anyway and let them file a grievance. You can’t negotiate with somebody who doesn’t want to negotiate. So why waste your time doing so?


  6. - Raising Kane - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    I disagree with Dan Montgomery…this is not “legal stealing” I believe it is “unconstitutional stealing”.


  7. - equivicator - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    Has anyone seen where in this draft bill when it would become effective? Are we looking an January 1 of 2014 or July 1 of 2014? As I understand it, if they want it effective right away the GA needs a 3/5 majority. Is this correct. Thanks in advance


  8. - mythoughtis - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    ==“legal theft of lifetime savings” nice rhetorical flourish, devoid of any relevance to what this bill does.

    Sounds like he’s talking about confiscation of personal savings accounts or 401Ks, not diminishment of potential future benefits
    ==

    It’s in reference to the fact that a reasonable, responsible person would consider a promised pension part of their retirement planning process, and budget accordingly. If you take a job at age 25 and know that you are only going to have a 401k, then you budget and invest accordingly. If you are promised a pension, then you probably diverted part of your investments to college savings/expenditures, long term care, private school, taking care of your elderly parents, etc.

    I have IRAs, and 401Ks, from my former employers. That just means I won’t have to eat dog food or sleep on the street without my pension, not
    that I will have enough to live to the level that I expected to with the pension. Doesn’t mean that I was irresponsible in my retirement planning. I didn’t invest with Barry Madoff or some fly by night place. I put my faith in the Illinois goverment and the people they represent to keep their promises. That full faith and credit thing, you know?


  9. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    I fully understand why unions and their allies are against this bill: it’s their members and retirees who will end up paying a lot to reduce the unfunded liability.

    What I don’t get is the opposition from the Eden Martins and his plutocrat allies. What do they think can pass in Springfield? Is there a bill that can be written to do what they want and pass constitutional muster? I don’t see any scenario where a much harsher bill can pass the General Assembly, much less the courts.

    But the unholy alliance opposing this bill is telling. Any compromise that leaves both parties upset is generally a good compromise.


  10. - Wensicia - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Why negotiate if the results of the court throwing out the law is better for your side?


  11. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    Rich, when has anybody other than Cullerton attempted to reach out to the unions and retirees. There is a reason why the opposition has been so loud, we have been excluded from the process from the very beginning.

    “But the reality is you don’t negotiate on a bill that you plan to oppose, and the unions always planned to oppose this bill.”


  12. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:07 am:

    equivicator @ 10:55 am:

    Unless it gets a super-majority, next summer. Here’s a comment I wrote very early this morning while analyzing the draft language:

    As I read through the bill and hit the various dates, I get the feeling the drafters don’t expect it to take effect immediately but instead expect it to take effect June 2014 or January 2015.


  13. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    Demoralized

    Please tell me when the unions or retirees ever were even given the opportunity to negotiate on the pension issue. All there’s been is a continual attempt by MJM to stick it to retirees & state workers.

    Really, the unions had no intention to negotiate on pensions ??? What about the deal the We Are One coilition reached with Cullerton, which overwhelmingly passed in the Senate & would have passed in the House if MJM would have allowed a vote.

    “I’m on your side in the pension debate, but you can’t claim that the unions actually had any intention of negotiating anything where pensions are concerned. I’ve been involved in negotiations on various things with unions and some of them they have said no to before any talk ever began. We did what we wanted anyway and let them file a grievance. You can’t negotiate with somebody who doesn’t want to negotiate. So why waste your time doing so?”


  14. - titan - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    +++ - walkinfool - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:44 am:
    “legal theft of lifetime savings” nice rhetorical flourish, devoid of any relevance to what this bill does.
    Sounds like he’s talking about confiscation of personal savings accounts or 401Ks, not diminishment of potential future benefits. +++

    The long term employees had a significant piece of each of their paychecks docked to go into their respective retirement system (and the state promised, but failed, to pay in a significant piece too). Now, the state is saying you won’t get the deal you already worked your whole career under. “Legal theft” isn’t all that bad a description for those on the receivign end of it.


  15. - facts are stubborn things - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:20 am:

    The unions negotiated SB2404 which passed the senate wiht a super majority. MJM did not allow a vote in the house or it would have passed. The union position could have been that the benfits have been earned and are constitutionaly protected. The primary cause of our pension problem is the fact that the state, not the employees, did not fund the system but rather spent that money on other more popular programs.

    Offering to give up 55B in legaly earned benifits to me is negotiating.


  16. - anon - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    Single and a career public servant in my fifties. How am I going to even pay my rent when I’m old? Legislative theft of lifetime savings is exactly what this is.


  17. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    ==What about the deal the We Are One coilition reached with Cullerton==

    You can’t reach any agreement with one person so that wasn’t a real negotiation.


  18. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:32 am:

    ==we have been excluded from the process from the very beginning. ==

    Again, I’m on your side. But the fact is that there are some who refuse to negotiate anything as it relates to pensions. That’s fine. I would too. If I were on the other side I wouldn’t waste my time engaging people who are mostly against any kind of pension deal.


  19. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    ?????? If it was only with one perso, how did it pass the Senate ? MJM has refused to meet with the union or retirees to discuss pensions. How can the union negotiate with someone who continually ducks them ?

    “You can’t reach any agreement with one person so that wasn’t a real negotiation.”


  20. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    Demoralized

    If this is true, how did HB 2404 get written ?

    “Again, I’m on your side. But the fact is that there are some who refuse to negotiate anything as it relates to pensions. That’s fine. I would too. If I were on the other side I wouldn’t waste my time engaging people who are mostly against any kind of pension deal.”


  21. - Tsavo - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    Does anyone know if the Legislation will also cut the 3% COLA on Survivor Benefits?

    I worked with some Troopers that were killed in the line of duty and believe if they can exclude Judges, they can certainly exclude the families of fallen Troopers.


  22. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    ===MJM has refused to meet with the union or retirees to discuss pensions. ===

    Untrue.

    He had a bunch of meetings with Henry Bayer at the governor’s mansion. He says he came away figuring that Bayer didn’t really want to negotiate.


  23. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    Tsavo @ 11:45 am:

    I’d have to double-check to be absolutely sure, but I think the COLA cut hits the survivors also.


  24. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 12:09 pm:

    MJM never negotiated with the union over pensions. His trying to ram SB1 down the unions throats does not constitute negotiating. His position has always been acromonious towards the union. There were a couple of meetings the union was allowed to attend, but these were not negotiations & the union was not an actual participant in any decision making that resulted.

    “Untrue.

    He had a bunch of meetings with Henry Bayer at the governor’s mansion. He says he came away figuring that Bayer didn’t really want to negotiate.”


  25. - Tsavo - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    Thank you RNUG.


  26. - Bogart - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 12:36 pm:

    When the house is on fire you save what you can. The unions have universally taken the position that their pensions are a higher priority than anything else in the budget. If they get their wish, the quality of life for the rest of Illinois will continue to decline. Invoking the “so - called Counstitutional guarantee” means higher taxes and reduced services for all because I don’t see AFSCME ever being reasonable about ongoing salaries and benefits. They still beleive state workers should get raises in a recession. They are oblivious to the crushing reality facing taxpayers.


  27. - PublicServant - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    Frankly Demoralized, your point is irrelevant. Whether the unions, or the tops wanted to sit down, and that sit down didn’t result in an agreement, it doesn’t matter whether you believe that one side, the other, or both didn’t want to negotiate in good faith, because an agreement was not reached that resulted in the bill that we are discussing today.

    Besides, the fact that unions don’t represent all of the effected classes means that “successful” negotiations could/would have been challenged anyway. But even if the unions and the tops sat down, they could have agreed to disagree with one side, the other, or both failing to compromise enough.

    Again, so what?


  28. - PublicServant - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    I think AFSCME will be just about as reasonable as you are Bogart, if not more so.


  29. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    ==Frankly Demoralized, your point is irrelevant==

    As is yours. The bill is out there whether we like it or not. You can complain all you want that the union wasn’t at the table but it doesn’t matter anymore. It is what it is and this is the hand that must be dealt with at this point in time.

    The time for whining and complaining is over. We all knew this was coming. It’s here. We have to deal with it by contacting our legislators and, if it passes, in court.


  30. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    ==They are oblivious to the crushing reality facing taxpayers. ==

    State employees are taxpayers too. Also, we’ll come after your livelihood and see how you react. I’m sure you’ll just sit there and let them take it away from you.

    And please, please, please tell us how your quality of life is declining. I’m all ears.


  31. - Bogart - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    == …how is (my) quality of life declining.==

    A 67% increase in my state income tax with no new or improved services. Ears burning yet?


  32. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:01 pm:

    ==A 67% increase in my state income tax with no new or improved services. Ears burning yet?==

    Really? I’ve been subjected to the same thing but my quality of life is just fine. Sorry for your problems.


  33. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    Bogart

    You already got the improved services, paid for by skipping pension payments.

    “A 67% increase in my state income tax with no new or improved services. Ears burning yet?”


  34. - Bogart - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    ==I’ve been subjected to the same thing…==
    Were you also “subjected” to 2.0% to 3.5% annual pay increases over the last few years?


  35. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:29 pm:

    ==Were you also “subjected” to 2.0% to 3.5% annual pay increases over the last few years? ==

    No. Pay frozen for several years now. Anything else?


  36. - Bogart - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==pay frozen==
    So you,ve waived any retro pay and withdrawn from any lawsuits. Good for you! You you have now is job security and a comfortable pension to look forward to. No wonder your quality of life is so good.


  37. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:46 pm:

    Bogart

    Before my position was awarded union representation by the labor board I went 4 years without a raise. Four years during one of the biggest economic booms in U.S. history. Blago & the Dems were sticking it to merit compensation employees, while also skipping pension payments, to pay for new programs, or expand existing ones. The raises I received since I became unionized only partially allowed me to recover what I should have gotten. “Were you also “subjected” to 2.0% to 3.5% annual pay increases over the last few years?”

    “Were you also “subjected” to 2.0% to 3.5% annual pay increases over the last few years?”


  38. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:50 pm:

    ==So you,ve waived any retro pay and withdrawn from any lawsuits.==

    I’m not in the union so your comment is not relevant.

    ==You you have now is job security and a comfortable pension to look forward to==

    Again, not in the union so I’m unaware of the job security you speak of. I’ll look into it. And I’m pretty sure my pension isn’t going to be “comfortable” considering I won’t be able to retire and live off of it alone.

    ==No wonder your quality of life is so good. ==

    I truly am sorry that your life is apparently so miserable. You might make it a little less miserable by being less bitter about things. It does wonders for your mental health.


  39. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    @Bogart:

    I will add one more thing. I pay 2% more in taxes than I used to like everybody else. I didn’t not have any raises to offset it. But, you see, I view life a bit differently than you apparently. My kid survived a potentially fatal disease. So, every day with him is a miracle. I consider my quality of life pretty good considering everything that has happened. If you want to stake your entire quality of life on the fact that your taxes went up a little, so be it. It’s a miserable existence as far as I’m concerned. There are far more important things to worry about in my opinion. My kid is living proof of that. So you can continue to be bitter and angry over your taxes or you can get on with your life. It’s your choice.


  40. - Bogart - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    Oblivious!
    ==partially allowed me to recover recovered==
    Get out of your cocoon and talk to non-government employees and ask them how they have faired over the past 4 to 8 years. Record high unemployemnt, record underemployment, record foreclosures, declining pay, loss of healthcare coverage, rising fuel and food costs. Just ask the man on the street and count your blessings.


  41. - Bogart - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    Demorolized. I cCould not agree more. I am happy for you and your child. I wish you both long happy and healthy lives. Don’t spend it resisting these modest but necessary reforms.


  42. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    Are you saying the economy tanked 8 years ago ? 8 years ago the economy was booming. But thanks to Blago, while private sector workers got raises, merit comp employees got nothing. Not only didn’t we get raises, we got a 4% pay cut because we were forced to pay towards our pensions. You really should be informed before commenting. A lot of state employees went years without raises, which already reduced their pensions. I am a union member now because of the mistreatment of management by the Dems. I was fortunate to have my position moved into collective bargaining.

    “Get out of your cocoon and talk to non-government employees and ask them how they have faired over the past 4 to 8 years. Record high unemployemnt, record underemployment, record foreclosures, declining pay, loss of healthcare coverage, rising fuel and food costs. Just ask the man on the street and count your blessings.”


  43. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:30 pm:

    OK, I’ve pretty much had enough of this goofy debate about who is the greatest victim.

    Move along.


  44. - Anon. - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==“legal theft of lifetime savings” nice rhetorical flourish, devoid of any relevance to what this bill does.==

    True, but only because there is nothing legal about it.

    ==Sounds like he’s talking about confiscation of personal savings accounts or 401Ks, not diminishment of potential future benefits.==

    He is. You don’t have anything in your “personal savings account.” What you have is a promise of the financial institution to pay you according to the terms of the account. Taking away your rights to enforce that promise is exactly what the GA is proposing to do to retirees.


  45. - My Thoughts For Whatever - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    Why do many commenters conveniently forget that state workers are also Illinois taxpayers and adopt the “us the people against them the unions”? What a great job the Tribbies and the like of have done misdirecting and misinforming the public about the real issues!


  46. - Justa Joe - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 5:07 pm:

    In addition to the bill’s unconstitutional elements, has anyone complained that the very formula being proposed to limit a retiree’s COLA, using a fixed number of $1000, will build in a compounding reduction in pensions for ALL?


  47. - Norseman - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 6:51 pm:

    It’s hard to argue that one should negotiate away a constitutional right.


  48. - Quinn is the Grinch - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 9:58 pm:

    Governor Quinn is the Grinch that stole Christmas to State employees and retirees. He is heartless. He lied in his last campaign when he said that he had a heart. He has an ice cold heart like all Chicago machine democrats.


  49. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 2, 13 @ 10:43 pm:

    This might be the last gasp of resistance to the current bill, but it won’t be the final push or fight. We’ll be right back here in Springfield arguing over both the pensions, other state expenses, and the income tax in 1 to 2 years.


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        * State Legislation Hints At Marijuana Legalization


        * U of I asks state legislators to prevent retirement rush; could affect 200 at UIS
        * Quinn grants 43 clemency requests
        * Illinois approved for No Child Left Behind waiver
        * Illinois Medicaid paying for dead clients
        * Democrats: Illinois schools could face major cuts
        * State prisons to use costly drug for hepatitis C
        * University: State pension reform had costly mistake
        * DNR mining-oversight official fired
        * Clock ticking for states to adopt health exchanges
        * GOP lawmaker objects to 9-0 vote for Obama library


        * Top of the Morning, April 19, 2014
        * Daily Digest 4/19/14
        * Earth Day event taking place in Makanda
        * Earth Day topics: House booklet, talks on climate, plants
        * Art exhibition expresses spiritual themes
        * GFWC District 25 hosts annual convention
        * Dinner to benefit fire department
        * New business to host grand opening
        * SIU Annuitants Association to meet
        * William Blankenship Sr.


        * The 10th District money race
        * Aurora Democrat calls out IHSA
        * Lawyers: Ill. hazing law vague, unconstitutional
        * Ill. House OKs lower-cost hunting bill for seniors
        * Quinn’s running mate takes new consulting job

        * Schakowsky in Tokyo for Aspen Institute co...
        * Schakowsky on pre-Passover Kansas Jewish C...
        * On Equal Pay Day, Rep. Schakowsky Calls fo...
        * Statement by Rep. Jan Schakowsky on Suprem...
        * Northwestern unionization leaders turn eff...
        * The Affordable Care Act's Successful First...
        * Rep. Jan Schakowsky: The Republican Ryan B...
        * Rep. Jan Schakowsky: The Affordable Care A...
        * "Is The New GM Responsible?": Barra Fields...
        * Schakowsky hits 'mean' Congress - San Dieg...

        * Loading Koch Industries Website Too Many T......
        * Maryland and DC among worst for food aller......
        * Cleveland State University to reestablish ......
        * Convicted political boss Al Sanchez runnin......
        * Candidates make last filings for local, st......

        * Illinois Lt. Gov. Simon opposes pension le......
        * Dillard Odd Man Out on Pension Deal Reaction...
        * Sen. Mark Kirk sides with Rauner on pensio......
        * Governor's race infighting threatens pensi......
        * SCHOONERS - Home of Everyone's Favorite Be......

        * Mayor Promises Millions More To Repave Pothole Pocked Streets
        * Major Northside Streets Temporarily Closed To Move Bridge Saturday Morning
        * Anti-Speed, Red Light Camera Groups Plan Saturday Protest
        * GOP upset they didn’t get a chance to vote “No” on something Obama-related
        * Democratic National Committee Executive Committee meeting in Chicago June 8
        * Emily's List hits Chicago June 27: Sebelius, Lisa Madigan, Neely, Finney to speak
        * Feinstein, Chambliss defend phone data snooping to "keep the homeland safe." Durbin has concerns. UPDATED
        * President Obama official schedule and guidance June 6, 2013. North Carolina, California
        * Verizon phone records secretly collected by the National Security Agency
        * Obama to tap genocide fighter, Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power to become new United Nations Ambassador


        * Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action
        * Proposed Rules for Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act Filed
        * Adopt-A-Highway Spring Cleanup Begins Today - Annual Event Honors Earth Day, Tackles Roadside Litter After Harsh Winter
        * Illinois Schools Win No Child Left Behind Waiver - Federal Government Approves Flexibility Needed for Successful Implementation of State Strategies to Improve Student Learning
        * Illinois filmmakers invited to enter state’s Shortcuts competition - 7th year for Illinois Film Office contest honoring local talent




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