The We Are One coalition of labor unions and supporter organizations are pushing their declared pension emergency days, set for Monday and Tuesday, as lawmakers are expected to return to Springfield Tuesday to vote on a controversial pension proposal.
The We Are One coalition is urging union members and their supporters to email and call their state senators and reps on Monday and Tuesday at 888-412-6570.
The union coalition says the proposed pension deal, which was released the day before Thanksgiving, is nothing more than a "repackaged SB1", which labor vehemently ralied against over the summer. The proposal, if passed, would raise the retirement age by five years depending on the workers' age, could affect collective bargaining rights (taking many pension-related issues off the table), places caps on pensionable income, and lets some workers opt out of the pension system in favor of a defined contribution system, which resembles that of 401k plans.
The latest proposal reportedly also reduces cost-of-living increases using a formula that pretty much mirrors that of the provisions in SB1. Under the proposal, COLA's would be based on giving retirees 3 percent of an amount for each year they have worked; placing a cap on future COLA increases at $800 or $1,000 for every year the employee has been on the job. The plan also reportedly calls for up to five years of COLA holidays, depending on the pensioner's age.
The current proposal is set to reportedly save $160 billion over the next three decades, which is about $3 billion shy of what SB1 was expected to save.
The We Are One coalition released the following statement after the proposal was released:
Unions representing hundreds of thousands of public employees and retirees were not included in the leaders’ talks. If their new plan is in line with what’s been reported from earlier discussions, then it’s an unfair, unconstitutional scheme that undermines retirement security.
It’s no compromise at all with those who earned and paid for their retirement benefits. In fact, reports suggest the leaders have repackaged Senate Bill 1 and barely bothered to disguise it. On top of this, by expanding 401(k) plans, the leaders will further jeopardize retirement security for the vast majority of public employees and retirees who are not eligible for Social Security.
If their bill resembles SB 1, we will urge lawmakers to reject it and continue to fight to protect the hard-earned life-savings of Illinois public servants as well as the sanctity of the state’s constitution.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn lauded the plan in a statement released Wednesday:
I commend the legislative leaders – Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin – for their hard work to reach this critical agreement. I also commend members of the conference committee for their work throughout the summer and fall to get us to this point.
When I proposed the creation of a conference committee in June, I asked members to draft a plan that eliminated the unfunded pension debt and fully stabilized the systems, and this plan meets that standard.
We have more work to do. I look forward to working with the leaders and members of the General Assembly over the coming days to get this job done for the people of Illinois.
The full language of the proposed bill is set to be released on Monday, which will provide more insight on the exact provisions laid out in the legislative leaders' plan.
UPDATE 1 (9:47 a.m.): See the full list of We Are One pension rallies that are set to be held at legislative offices on Monday and Tuesday here, as published on Fred Klonsky's blog.
UPDATE 2 (5:00 p.m.): Click through to read the full language in the pension reform proposal, which was released to earlier today.