The Illinois General Assembly.
By Sonya Booth, UIC News,and William S. Bike, APAC News
AS LEGISLATION was considered in the Illinois House that would change retirement benefits for current employees, 6,234 people signed an opposing petition sponsored by the Academic Professional Advisory Committee.
THE ONLINE APAC petition opposed legislative changes to the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) that would increase employee contributions or reduce benefits for current employees.
“PENSIONS ARE people's No. 1 concern,” said Michael Moss, APAC chair and an assistant director in the Office of Business and Financial Services. “They always have been and likely always will be,"
MOSS SAID APAC hoped to get signatures from the 11,000 UIC employees who contribute to SURS, their friends, families, colleagues and supporters.
THE PETITION was sent to legislators after it closed May 25, he said.
THE UNIVERSITY Ethics Office, Office of Governmental Relations, University and campus Human Resources, Administrative Information Technology Services, and the Office of the Chancellor are aware of the petition, he added, and the ethics office determined that it is not prohibited by State employee ethics regulations.
THE PETITION reads:
TO OUR ELECTED DISTRICT OFFICIALS IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE AND HOUSE:
We entered a contractual relationship with an Illinois State University.
Part of that contract included a modest pension.
We have paid for our pensions out of every single paycheck since our first day of work.
We have paid without fail, on time, and in full.
We are not the problem.
You (the legislature) are the problem.
You have failed to make payments towards our pensions.
You have solved your problems using the pension money you promised us.
You have made the decisions that have resulted in an underfunded pension system.
You have been the problem, and now we call upon you to be the solution.
Do not increase pension contributions for existing employees.
We should not have to pay extra just because you failed to pay.
Do not rob us of our retirement by reducing our benefits.
We should not lose our benefits just because you failed to pay.
We have a contractual agreement, and we demand you uphold our contract.
We have provided countless years of dedicated service.
Most of us do not have Social Security to fall back on.
We have done nothing wrong.
This is not our fault.
Do not make us pay to fix your problem.
We, the undersigned, call upon our elected district officials and demand that you NOT support any changes to the State University Retirement System (SURS) that would:
* Reduce maximum pension benefits as a percentage of salary.
* Reduce pension benefits earned per year of service as a percentage of salary.
* Reduce cost of living adjustments to pension benefits.
* Modify the formula for calculating pension benefits that would result in reduction in pension benefits.
* Increase the number of service years required to qualify for pension benefits.
* Increase the retirement age.
* Increase the contributions required of employees.
We, the undersigned, believe that the Pension and Retirement Rights Clause is intended to protect pension benefits by creating an enforceable contractual relationship between the employer and the employee. We, the undersigned, call upon our elected district officials and demand that you recognize this enforceable contractual relationship and act on our behalf to prevent any changes to the State University Retirement System (SURS) that would alter any of the terms, conditions, formulas, or benefits of the pension plan that were in effect on eligible employees' first day at work.
THE LEGISLATION did not get out of committee this legislative session, but sponsors have threatened to try to pass it in the fall since it failed this time.