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AFSCME responds

Thursday, Jul 3, 2014

* From a press release…

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that health care benefits for retired state and university employees are protected by the pension clause of the state constitution and cannot be diminished or impaired.

The Supreme Court ruled that a lower court was wrong to dismiss the four consolidated lawsuits (one supported by AFSCME, IFT, INA and FOP) which argued that SB 1313 was unconstitutional. That legislation had effectively allowed the state to diminish health care benefits for retirees by imposing new and higher health insurance premiums.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the circuit court for further proceedings.

AFSCME is very pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed with us that affordable health care in retirement, a promise made to tens of thousands of Illinois public servants in exchange for their service, is protected by the constitution.

“The Supreme Court ruled today that men and women who work to provide essential public services — protecting children from abuse, keeping criminals locked up, caring for the most vulnerable and more — can count on the Illinois Constitution to mean what it says,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said. “Retirement security, including affordable health care and a modest pension, cannot be revoked by politicians.

“Unions representing public employees and retirees have stood virtually alone against political and corporate-funded attacks on retirement security,” Bayer added. “Time and again we have urged legislators to respect the constitution they are sworn to uphold, and to work together with us to develop fair and constitutional solutions to the state’s very real fiscal challenges. We remain ready to work in good faith with anyone to do so.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


10 Comments
  1. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    Good response by AFSCME, and the Henry Bayer hats-off was a nice touch.


  2. - Angry Chicagoan - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    I’m not sure AFSCME even controls this agenda now. If they do a deal that deviates even modestly from the current arrangements, some individual is going to sue . . . and win; if they decide to sign on for constitutional amendments in pursuit of some kind of closure to the fiscal crisis, their membership will go ballistic.


  3. - Jack Handy - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    So it seems like raising the deductable or copay would be a dimishment of my healthcare benefits.


  4. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Jack, I think an excessive raise would likely be challenged in court if it were greatly above historic increase norms.


  5. - Tim Snopes - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    Don’t see how the state will be able to afford those automatic exorbitant pay raises for AFSME members any longer. The well has gone dry.


  6. - Sue - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    As Anne Burke opined- today’s ruling has no basis in existing law- Pension benefit changes were thought to be protected-but never did anyone with a legal background believe the pension clause extended to retiree health benefits- The Supremes today have issued a mandate which will further deprive the State’s neediest the hope of receiving any state benefits since every last dollar the State can raise will go to fund public retiree benefits- Thousands of teachers, police, fireman etc. can look forward to layoff notices as the State cuts back on state municipal revenue sharing subsidies-Good luck funding Medicaid and any other program which requires state funding- The Public Unions have won and as far as they are concerned, the rest of us who don’t have public retirement benefits can fork over whatever it costs to fund their benefits


  7. - funny guy - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Hey Rahm—when do you put the for sale sign on O’Hare and Midway? Neither of these assets provide one cent to the city’s budget–per federal law. I think we can conservatively net about $10 BILLION–which would put a nice dent in the unfunded liability.


  8. - walker - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    The state did not “diminish” benefits by “imposing new and higher health insurance premiums” as AFSCME claims above. Health insurance premiums have been dramatically raised in the last 15 years, by health insurance companies, not the state. The state subsidized a smaller proportion of those rising costs for AFSCME member employees. The actual state dollar subsidy per employee has been rising. The insurance companies’ premiums have been rising faster.

    Never stop spinning reality to your advantage, AFSCME. It’s working.


  9. - Mason born - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 4:03 pm:

    Walker

    That might be a good argument had the state said they would pay x dollars towards healthcare. The problem is the said they would pay 100%. Sorry but that ain’t spin that’s the facts.


  10. - walker - Thursday, Jul 3, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    Mason: I know. Had yours been the language AFSCME used, I would agree with their statement.

    “The state promised they would fully cover the rising premium costs charged by insurance companies to our employees, and they did not meet that obligation.” That’s reality.


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