Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Illinois Retired Teachers Association Lauds Cullerton’s Good Faith Effort but Opposes SB 2404

IRTA Executive Director Jim Bachman issued this statement on behalf of the Association’s 35,000 members:

“While we appreciate Senator Cullerton’s good faith efforts to find a solution, we fully believe the changes in his legislation are clearly unconstitutional. The legislation may be less draconian than [Madigan’s Senate Bill 1 in] the House of Representatives, but it still fails the test of constitutionality.

“The authors of the Illinois Constitution were unequivocal in their purpose for drafting and enacting the ‘Pension Clause’ to the 1970 rule of law. Repeatedly, delegates including amendment sponsor Henry Green cited the failure of previous General Assemblies to honor the spirit as well as the letter of the laws regulating public worker pensions.

“If our organization sits back without a fight and allows changes to the spirit of our state’s laws governing enforceable contracts, then no agreement will ever again be safe from arbitrary dissolution under the law.

“Each and every public worker who now receives retirement benefits left public service with their employer’s promise that their pension was sacred. No choice written into any pending proposal guarantees pension benefits as enforceable contracts.

“It is with regret that the Illinois Retired Teachers Association must oppose this bill. To do otherwise would represent a violation of our principles that embrace contracts as enforceable promises.”

The IRTA last year launched a legal defense fund to challenge enactment of pension legislation believed to be unconstitutional. Earlier this year Gino DiVito, a former appellate court justice and founding partner of the Chicago firm of Tabet DiVito and Rothstein, issued a legal opinion to the IRTA that declared unconstitutional proposals similar to Senator Cullerton’s.

The aforementioned is from an IRTA press release.

Excerpts from Tabet, DiVito and Rothstein’s legal opinion.

from a letter written by an IRTA legislative rep:

“…IEA's function is to protect collectively bargained rights.  Retirees have no collective bargaining rights.  [Their] rights exist within case law and, more importantly, the Illinois Constitution and the U.S. Constitution (Amendment 14)...  When the We Are One Coalition bargained with Senator Cullerton for SB2404, they did so under collective bargaining.  Active IEA/IFT members are bound by that bargaining.  Regardless of their membership in IEA-R or IFT-R, retirees are not bound by that bargaining.  [They] do not relinquish constitutional rights through this collective bargaining.  IEA bargains on behalf of active members to trade off salary/benefits to obtain a more desirable position.  Retirees have no more desirable position than [their] current pensions and health insurance…”  

Approximately 35,000 retirees are being deprived of an earned and promised benefit. They were not represented at the table when Cullerton and the Coalition made their agreement. They were excluded from the process that affects them. It’s ironic that it is the legislators who owe the outstanding obligations and not the public employees and retirees, and that Cullerton and the Coalition have decided public employees and retirees will provide consideration for the debt.


  1. Here is the link to the IRTA legal defense fund.

    If you wish to donate click the button at the bottom of the page.


  2. “The spineless politicians that are going against the constitution by hiding behind self-generated reasons (that appear legal) are not living in glass houses. Keep on reporting the truth, Illinois Retired Teacher Association! And they exempted the Judges, wow!” –Thomas Hanlon (Teacher for 35 years and Vietnam vet '65 - '69).