'This is not over...' Union leaders vow to continue fight for fair pensions, despite Springfield vote

Despite the narrow vote to approve so-called "pension reform" legislation by the Illinois General Assembly on December 3, 2013, opponents of the continued attack on public service and public sector workers are preparing to continue the fight. The narrow vote (detailed below) moved forward the latest phase in the attack on public sector defined benefit pensions, and continues the privatization of pensions at the expense of pensioners and for the benefit of private investment advisors who will reap most of the benefits from the "defined contribution" plans that are about to replace much of pensions for future workers in the public sector. Privatization continues at the same pace, despite the growing opposition across the nation and across Illinois and Chicago.

IFT President Dan Montgomery speaking recently at the City Club of Chicago. The legislation, "Senate Bill 1," was more than 300 pages long, and was approved even though many of those voting for it clearly had not read the bill. The legislation passed on December 3, 2013 did not include the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, CTPF, which governs Chicago public school teacher pensions. Nevertheless, Chicago Teachers Union members and leaders lobbied in solidarity with teachers across the state in opposition to Senate Bill 1.


Dec 03, 2013




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Dec 03, 2013



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December 3, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Just 24 hours after receiving a 325-page bill, Illinois lawmakers convened in Springfield today to vote on pension-slashing legislation that robs teachers and public employees who have served our state and faithfully made their pension contributions. Despite vocal opposition from numerous lawmakers, enormous outcry from our members, and vehement testimony from the IFT and members of the We Are One Illinois coalition, legislative leaders called the unfair, unconstitutional pension theft proposal for a vote.

After hours of heated debate, the bill attacking the working class and retired public servants passed with the minimum votes necessary in the Senate (30-24-3) and in the House (62-53-1). It is rumored that Governor Quinn plans to sign this measure as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday). If and when he does, the IFT will join our union partners in an aggressive challenge to this measure in court.

This battle has been long and hard fought, starting as far back as the 1970s when our union brought to court a lawsuit demanding that state politicians and budget architects make the pension payment, in full, every year. Over the last several years, the IFT and other public sector unions have beat back draconian attempts to cut pension benefits for current employees and retirees.

The battle for fairness, dignity, and security in retirement doesnt stop with todays legislative action. It is simply a dark day in the developing history of our efforts to protect the middle class.

Our efforts together are not in vain. Working Americans are engaged in a fight for a fair economy, strong education system, and a dignified retirement for committed educators and public employees. We will continue to fight against efforts to take peoples retirement security when they need it the most, after they have worked hard and earned those benefits. For more than two years, your efforts have made a significant impact.

Together, weve engaged in hundreds of meetings, countless rallies, hundreds of thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls to legislators. And frankly, when you look at the votes, youll find that even during our defeat today, there are a number of legislators whove stuck with us. I encourage you to take a look at the vote in the House and Senate and PLEASE, take the time to thank your legislator if he or she voted NO on this bill. Your thanks goes a long way and makes a big impact in future efforts.

If your legislator voted YES, he or she should hear from you as well. Politicians should know that youre paying attention before, during, and after their votes.

IFT and the We Are One Illinois coalition will release additional details as soon as they become available. Governor Pat Quinn likes to say, Let the will of the people be the law of the land. Well, the law of the land is the Illinois Constitution, not the politics of Springfield. Thanks for all your efforts. In Solidarity,

Dan Montgomery

President, Illinois Federation of Teachers


December 4, 2013 at 12:20 PM

By: Rod Estvan

But now the pension is guaranteed -right?

I was able to listen to the House of Representatives floor debate yesterday and there are many unanswered in relation to the supposed funding guarantee that appears in the Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill 1. To see the actual bill go to

Section 20 of the report presents the text of the guarantee that has been reported in the mass media. At points the text appearing on pages 13-16 is not comprehensible to the normal mind and for sure since only selected members of the House received actuarial analysis of the report the savings and costs of the plan were not discernible to the members of the House that voted yesterday.

Let me quote at length a critical part of the supposed guarantee:

(c-5) In addition to any other amounts required to be transferred under this Section, in State fiscal year 2016 and each fiscal year thereafter through State fiscal year 2045, or when each of the designated retirement systems, as defined in Section 25, has achieved 100% funding, whichever occurs first, the State Comptroller shall order transferred and the State Treasurer shall transfer from the General revenue Fund to the Pension Stabilization Fund an amount equal to 10% of (1) the sum of the amounts certified by the designated retirement systems under subsection (a-5) of Section 2-134, subsection (a-10) of Section 14-135.08, subsection (a-10) of Section 15-165, and subsection (a-10) of Section 16-158 of this Code for that fiscal year minus (2) the sum of (i) the transfer required under subsection (c-10) of this Section [that would be $1billion by the way] for that fiscal year and (ii) the sum of the required State contributions certified by the retirement systems under subsection (a) of Section 2-134, subsection (a-5) of Section 14-135.08, subsection (a-5) of Section 2-134, subsection (a-5) of Section 15-165, and subsection (a-5) of Section 16-158 of this Code for that fiscal year. The transferred amount is intended to represent one-tenth of the annual savings to the State resulting from the enactment of the amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly.

I have no doubt that all the contributors to the Teachers Retirement System have complete confidence in the aspect of the guarantee encompassed by subsection (c-5). I also have no doubt that astute reporters like Carol Marin, and Fox's Mike Flannery fully grasped that subsection when they studied it carefully.

Rod Estvan

December 4, 2013 at 1:17 PM

By: Michael Meyer

Pension cost

Now that government employees can no longer depend upon the state, it will be left to local property tax payers to guarantee that public workers earn enough salary to save for their retirement! This is a dramatic shift of responsibility from state to the local taxing districts. Keep an eye on this-

December 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM

By: Rod Estvan

re: TRS and property taxes

Michael if you read the bill carefully you will see that employers that do receive funding via property taxes are prohibited by law from bargaining in anyway over these pension cuts. It's in section 7.5 page 5.

School boards for example can bargain only over picking up the employees contributions to either the defined plan or the 401k optional plan as far as I can see. I would recommend a careful reading of this section to get a better understanding of it as it related to outside of Chicago teachers.

December 4, 2013 at 3:32 PM

By: Bob Busch


Corned beef and cabbage

2014 will be a busy year for Illinois politicians. There is a primary election and a

general election .Before either is the annual CTU corned beef and cabbage dinner.

In election years it has been a must attend event for democratic office seekers.

If anyone who voted for SB1 has the nerve to show up ,and gets seated, everyone

else should leave immediately.

The CTU also maintains a Political Action Committee that supports friendly politicians

with monetary contributions if they give so much as one cent to anyone who voted fro SB1

it should be grounds for termination of their office.

I realize the CTU does NOT represent retired teachers and that yesterdays disgraceful action

does not apply to Chicago, yet, but we should support our fellow teachers.

December 4, 2013 at 4:22 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Time to abrogate the Parking Meter contract?

So let me get this straight: it's okay to violate the Illinois Constitution and void the contractual rights of employees, but it's impossible to abrogate the 75 year parking meter deal because it's an ironclad contract? I say, if worker's contractual rights are meaningless, then it's time to reopen the parking meter contract.

December 4, 2013 at 5:13 PM

By: bob busch


Excellent point

December 5, 2013 at 12:21 AM

By: Joan Staples

Pension Theft Vote

I have a small TRS pension (7 years credit) and a Chicago Teachers Pension Fund pension (21 years). I taught for 10 more years at the University of Chicago Reading Clinic. No pension. I did earn Social Security credits so I get a net $125 per month from SS; my Medicare B comes from SS. My husband, also retired from CPS, gets Medicare on my SS. We have additional investments, but they can vary, of course. We are now in our 80's, dependent entirely on ourselves. Our pensions are deferred compensation. We paid for them. We also pay for our Medigap insurance. Public employees are not responsible for the financial problems of our state. We need more revenue, especially from those that can afford it; i.e., a progressive income tax. If we have lower incomes, we cannot help our economy. Those who have low incomes need to lobby for higher incomes, not deny others the ability to earn more. We are glad to see employees of WalMart, McDonald's, etc. press for decent wages. These businesses can afford to pay more. This is how capitalism is supposed to work -- right? Not only are our pensions' COLA being lowered, but we are being denied the right to have a say about these pensions. The so-called promise of full funding is pie in the sky, and can be changed at any time, if anyone can understand it. Obviously, the goal is to destroy pensions, particularly defined benefit pensions. For example, employees pay less into their pensions and are encouraged to opt out of the pension system. Employers are given more holidays. King Rahm wants to do to CTPF what the state has now done. CTU does have a Retired Teachers section, and RTAC is an important voice for Chicago teachers. The Mayor is also vulnerable, although it will not be easy to oppose him. Many community members and parents, as well as elements of the black community are bitter about what he has done and is doing to the public schools. My state representatives, usually progressive, are on the wrong side in this situation, and it is very sad. I e-mailed Barbara Currie, could not get through to Kwame Raoul, but they will hear from us in the coming months. The details of what was passed were hard to come by, but the media has not helped either.

December 5, 2013 at 11:01 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Senator Rauol

Joan you should be aware that Senator Raoul was the defender and chief of the Conference Committee plan in the Senate.

Rod Estvan

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