* AFSCME has responded to Senate President John Cullerton’s new pension reform idea, which is outlined here. From Council 31…
The latest pension-cutting concept outlined by Senate President John Cullerton looks like extortion—both unconstitutional and blatantly unfair to teachers, police, nurses, caregivers and other public employees.
For years, our union and the We Are One Illinois coalition of which we are a part have stood virtually alone in urging fair and constitutional solutions to the underfunding of Illinois pensions. We demonstrated our commitment last year by working constructively with Senator Cullerton to develop a compromise pension measure.
We also strongly opposed pension-cutting schemes that are clearly unconstitutional, but politicians charged ahead, triggering costly litigation. We will continue to defend the integrity of the Illinois Constitution.
Recently, a near-unanimous bipartisan majority of the state Supreme Court sent a strong signal that the retirement benefits of public employees are inviolable. To suggest that politicians could prevent workers from bargaining for fair wages only if they surrender a protected right is the same kind of thinking that has delayed real solutions to the pension funding problem. It’s long past time for gimmicks.
Public employees earn their modest pensions by teaching kids, caring for the most vulnerable and keeping us safe. They have always paid their share. That’s why it’s so outrageous that the politicians who caused the pension debt—and their corporate allies whose tax loopholes divert billions from the public good—are still seeking ways to force public servants alone to pay the cost.