Friday, December 27, 2013

Illinois Retired Teachers Association and School Administrators Association File First Lawsuit

“The Illinois Retired Teachers Association filed suit Friday challenging the constitutionality of the state’s historic but controversial plan to deal with the nation’s most underfunded public employee pension system.

“The lawsuit is the first of what could be many filed on behalf of state workers, university employees, lawmakers and teachers outside Chicago. The legal challenge argues the law, which limits cost-of-living increases, raises retirement ages for many current workers and caps the amount of salaries eligible for retirement benefits, violates the State Constitution.

“The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of eight non-union retirees, teachers and superintendents who are members of the state’s Teacher Retirement System, contended the constitutional ‘guarantee on which so many relied has been violated.’

‘“Countless careers, retirements, personal investments and medical treatments have been planned in justifiable reliance not only on the promises that were made in collective bargaining agreements and the Illinois Pension Code, but also on the guarantee of the (State Constitution’s) Pension Protection Clause,’ the lawsuit said…

“At issue is a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution which states that public pensions represent ‘an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.’ The new law, however, scales back what had been annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living increases to retirees. Instead, retirees would get 3 percent, non-compounding yearly bumps based on a formula that takes into account their years of service multiplied by $1,000. The $1,000 factor would be increased by the rate of inflation each year.

“The measure also requires many current workers to skip up to five annual cost-of-living pension increases when they retire. For current workers, it also would boost the retirement age by up to five years, depending on how old they are…

“But the lawsuit contended the constitutional ‘guarantee, perhaps more so than anything else in the Illinois Constitution, was used by countless families across Illinois to plan careers, retirements and financial futures.’ It argues the state Supreme Court has consistently struck down attempts to change the state’s pension laws when benefits are diminished and that justices have warned that constitutional requirements cannot be suspended for economic reasons…

“Representatives of the We Are One coalition of public employee unions, including the state’s two major teachers’ unions, have said they expect to file suit after the New Year. Their lawsuit is expected to be filed outside of Cook County — in part reflecting a concern that powerful Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan plays a powerful political interest in determining judgeships in the Chicago area…”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this excellent blog in keeping us posted on the shenanigans in Illinois, which mimi the same moves at the federal level, whereby Democrats are calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, although the fund is not the problem. Meanwhile, they continue giving every tax break to corporations with the repeated argument that they will lose their business if they don't adhere to their extortion. ALEC, Fix the Debt, Third Way, Illinois Policy Institute, Concord Coalition, and the entire corporate media keep repeating the message that we need to privatize the tax dollars in 401Ks, charter schools, etc. while, at the same time, saying that there's no money to fund public pensions. They're just itching to get their dirty hands on everything public.