Why doesn’t the Illinois Education Association join our efforts and post our public employees’ petition on its website? Perhaps it is because the Illinois We Are One Coalition is planning a “summit” with a few, thus far, unsuspecting legislators (like Elaine Nekritz, for example, “who [said she] had not heard about the union summit”) slated for February 11 and because “unions have said they’re willing to have members pay more toward their pensions” in exchange for “ending a series of business tax breaks…” (State unions propose pension summit).
Perhaps it is also because IEA president Cinda Klickna
and her coterie are wary of a possible court battle; thus, they are willing to
modify a contract as a sort of offering or appeasement, hoping legislators will
forgo a constitutional challenge of Article XIII, Section 5 (“Pension Clause”).
Nonetheless, many of us believe there will never be enough placation to satisfy
any unscrupulous legislator with a mania for so-called “pension reform.” Too
many legislators are dependent on the Civic Committee of the Commercial
Club of Chicago’s campaign money and influenced by the Committee’s collective ill-will
toward public employees.
Eric M. Madiar, Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J.
Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate, states it this way: “Pension benefits are under siege for two reasons:
opportunity and political motives” (Defending and Protecting Public Employees’ Pensions against the Legislative Siege).
Many public employees (read the comments on our
petition online) argue that unions should not bargain away any of the public
employees’ “constitutionally-guaranteed,” earned rights and benefits. Why? Because
“a public employee obtains ‘vested rights’ in the Pension Code provisions
relevant to pension benefits when the employee becomes a member of a pension
system by making his or her initial employee contribution to the system.
addition, the ‘Pension Clause’ protects pension benefit rights as an
enforceable contractual relationship” (Madiar, “Is Welching on Public Pensions an Option for the State of Illinois…”). Cullerton knows this is true. Perchance this is why
he has sponsored a bill (it passed the senate) that will attempt to circumvent
the “Pension Clause” by giving retirees and public employees a “choice” to
impair their own contract for a state guarantee (really?) to fund the pension
systems hereafter (here’s another related question with a built-in answer: who will guarantee
this funding when the state’s “normal costs” are shifted to school districts
and taxpayers?). Cullerton’s bill also provides a supposed failsafe, just in
case the Civic Federation and Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of
Chicago’s (or the Nekritz-Biss) pension reform bill that Cullerton says will
be found “unconstitutional” is, indeed, found unconstitutional.
All the same, John Stevens, the Legal Consultant
for the “We Are One” Labor Coalition, stated “To take away the Cost-of-Living
Adjustment [COLA] for [current and future] retirees is not a free and fair
choice. It is a coercive choice under duress.”
In other words, Illinois legislators
will be breaching a contract by forcing public employees to make a choice to
diminish their originally-vested and paid-for guarantee. Legislators will be
attempting to break an enforceable contractual promise, one that is bilateral
and emphasizes an agreement between the State of Illinois and its retired and
current public employees as to their future rights and benefits.
It is a diminution of the public employees’ contract
to receive less than what the original vested right and benefit guaranteed. A
choice between the COLA and precarious state-sponsored health care, for
example, offers public employees and retirees no ethical and lawful
alternatives except to consent to the General Assembly’s demands to make an illicit choice.
Consider that “A contract is a promise or set
of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance
of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty” (Professor of Law, Emeritus, Claude
D. Rohwer and Professor of Law, Emeritus, Anthony M. Skrocki, Contracts in a
Based upon both past and current legislators’ dereliction
of duty to pay for the public employees’ constitutionally-guaranteed pensions,
it should be found in a court of law that the Illinois General Assembly has been
and will be currently in “violation of any standard of good faith and fair
dealing.” Regarding the guaranteeing of payments to the public employees’
pension systems, “there is no way to avoid the conclusion that [it] is a ‘constructive’
condition to [the General Assembly’s] duty to pay,” (Rohwer & Skrocki), and
a “diminishment and impairment” to the contract or “expressed condition” of the
Any modification of the “Pension Clause” should be seen as “the
result of a violation of fair dealing,” as an accommodation
for “only” the General Assembly who have stolen money from the public pension
systems for decades and are, thus, “avoiding a pre-existing duty rule” (Rohwer
In other words, state legislators were dishonest. “[They] had a
duty to perform [and] didn’t perform [for decades] and, therefore, [they have]
breached [their] contract [with public employees]” (Rohwer & Skrocki).
“Because there is already a contract
relationship in existence which imposes a duty of good faith upon the parties,
there is an issue of whether [this General Assembly will be] acting in bad
faith [once again] in extracting a [coerced] consent to [a] modification [or impairment
of a contract]…” (Rohwer & Skrocki).
The significance of any modification of the “Pension
Clause” is “the extent to which [public employees] will be deprived of the
benefit [they] reasonably expected; the extent to which [public employees] can
be adequately compensated for the part of that benefit [COLA, for instance] of
which [they] will be deprived; […and] the extent to which the behavior of the
party [Illinois General Assembly] failing to perform or to offer to perform [or]
comports with standards of good faith and fair dealing” (Rohwer & Skrocki).
The promise to honor commitments and pay for
the public employees’ pension is of “sufficient importance” to ALL citizens of
Illinois. To pass pension reform is “an unequivocal manifestation of intention
not to perform… legal duties…under a contract… [To repeat,] when there is a
duty of immediate performance of a promise, failure to perform in full is a
breach” (Rohwer & Skrocki).
Many of us maintain that our unions should not diminish
the constitutionally-guaranteed “Pension Clause” that “protects pension benefit
rights as an enforceable contractual relationship” by “modification through
Why? Because Cullerton, House Speaker Michael Madigan and
his servile followers (Nekritz, Biss, and others) have made it obvious that
they are willing to let “the courts decide” whether their pension reform bills
are illegal or not, regardless of the myriad of upheld antedated cases on this
matter and their oaths of office to uphold the State and U.S. Constitutions.
Though many legislators
would rather dispute one of the Bill of Rights contained in both the Illinois
and U.S. Constitutions instead of addressing the “real causes” of the state's
budget deficits (the pension ramp, the resultant pension debt, and the state’s insufficient
flow of revenue), legislators should reexamine the concept of justice and what
lawfulness demands: that people must keep their covenants with one another. No justice is accomplished when diminishing public employees' earned
benefits and rights because of decades of legislators' irresponsibility,
corruption and incompetence.
Let’s not forget this essential understanding
on how we have arrived in this economic predicament. The state’s unfunded
liability has increased to $94 billion. Forty-six percent of that figure ($43.2
billion) was machinated by legislators of the State of Illinois. All citizens
of the State of Illinois are in this fiscal morass primarily because of
scheming Illinois legislators.
Today’s calamity is not the result of a
financial problem that was unforeseen at the time of the Illinois
Constitutional Convention of 1970. To reiterate, the unfunded liability is a
consequence of legislative negligence, dishonesty and ineptitude. There should
not be any consideration (contract modification) of the public employees’
earned benefits. Thus far, 3,100+ petitioners are quite lucid and resolute
about this conviction.
To respect a contractual promise as a legitimate right and moral
concern is at stake for public employees and every other citizen in this state. Illinois pension reform is without legal and moral justification.
Illinois legislators: Stop Illinois pension reform!
union leadership: Stand firm!
have been victimized enough. They do not want to contribute more money to their
pension fund (one of the highest in the nation), especially when considering the fraudulent intentions of past Illinois legislators.
Dear reader: Please
sign our petition and pass it on to others.
Illinois Debt and Revenue Reform, Not Pension Reform
Thank you Gary
Elmen, President of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, for linking our petition
to the IRTA website. Thank you Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois
Federation of Teachers, for signing our petition; thank you – public employees,
retirees, and family and friends – for signing this most important petition to
stop pension reform…
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