May 15, 2012

May 2012 APAC News Vol. 5, No. 5

Upcoming Days Are Key Concerning Pensions, Benefits

IN THE next few days or next week, elected officials in Springfield are going to consider proposed legislation concerning our pensions and benefits. Being considered, according to the University Senate:

1.) State Employees pay a higher percentage of a monthly salary into the pension fund;  2.) State contributions to the pension fund shift to the budgets of local governments and public universities/colleges;  3.) Cost of living increases curtailed or limited for pensioners; 4.) Increased costs for health care placed on pensioners (this legislation is waiting for Governor Patrick Quinn’s signature; see article below);  5.) Increase the age limit of when an employee can take a pension;  6.) Increase the burden of working after retirement -- in terms of reduced pensions or cost -- to the public university/college.

THE GOVERNOR has asked business leaders to back his pension reforms and pressure the General Assembly to pass them (see, while opposition is gearing up (see :

IN THE end, whatever happens this week or the next, if legislation is signed into law it is likely to be challenged in court.

Free Healthcare for Retirees on the Way Out

Legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly
will have retirees pay for healthcare.
(Photo courtesy stock.xchng.)
THE ILLINOIS House and Senate passed a measure May 9 and 10 that would end free health care for retired University employees.  SB 1313 will now go to Governor Patrick Quinn, who issued a statement in support of the measure earlier.

“THIS LEGISLATION will help ensure that our retirees continue to have access to quality health care while also lowering the cost to taxpayers," Quinn said.

THE AMOUNT of premiums retirees will pay will be established by Central Management Services (CMS), and then recommended to the State Legislature's bi-partisan, bicameral J-CAR (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) for approval before being put into effect.

IN OPPOSITION, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Council 31 said, “The legislation would remove the current schedule of State-supported health benefits and leave it to the discretion of CMS. This means CMS could charge whatever they choose to for premiums or completely eliminate any subsidy for retiree health insurance all together. This legislation breaks a commitment to affordable health care coverage for State and University retirees, including thousands who were encouraged to take early retirement and do not qualify for Medicare.

“IN THE past, retiree health benefits were decided through the collective bargaining process and only then would any changes be enacted into law,” AFSCME continued. “The collective bargaining process should be honored, and this issue should be a subject of collective bargaining. Through collective bargaining, health care benefits have been made more affordable to the State. Shifting the costs of health insurance premiums will not reduce the cost of health care, it will only reduce the standard of living for Illinois retirees.”

IN THE Springfield State Journal-Register of May 10, Sen. Larry Bomke (R-Springfield) said he thinks the bill is unconstitutional because it applies to people who retired years ago from the State with the expectation of receiving health insurance at no premium cost if they worked 20 or more years for the State. The benefit was put into state law in 1997. Bomke said the change should only apply to future retirees.

BOMKE SAID, “To vote yes on this bill will simply mean that we’ll have a court challenge, we’ll spend millions of dollars we don’t have trying to defend it, only to realize it’s not constitutional.”

Your Take Home Salary is About to be Cut

APAC EXPLAINS why employees who are not planning to retire soon should care about the pending pension legislation:
YOUR TAKE-HOME salary is likely to be cut.  Increased contributions to pay for the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) mean increased deductions from your paycheck, and less money for you.  It is basically a pay cut to pay for the lack of contributions to on the part of the State over the years.
WHAT IS next?  The State has already approved legislation that will eliminate State payments for health insurance coverage for currently retired employees (see related article below).  Do you have an extra $15,000 to $23,000 (or more!) per year to pay for your insurance if the State makes the same decision for current employees?
THE PROPOSED pension reform will set a precedent of saving the State money by cutting University employee benefits.  Do you think the State is planning to give the University any funding for salary increases in the near future?  Do you think the State will hesitate to cut our salary or benefits in the future the next time they need to save money?
THE SURGE in retirements won't reduce the amount of work that needs to be done - the burden and responsibilities will fall to other staff until new employees can be hired to fill vacated roles.  You should not anticipate a pay raise to compensate all of your extra hours and new work.
THE EXISTING SURS legislation has language that is intended to protect current employees from changes to the pension system that "diminish" benefits for current employees.  Governor Patrick Quinn, as well as other current Illinois Senators and Representatives, are considering aggressive steps to cut our pensions anyway.  If Illinois State law can't protect us, what will?

WHOM SHOULD you contact?  Your State Senator and State Representative. Why don't you give them a call and let them know what you think about what they are doing? Find them at 

Opposition Weighs In On Drastic Pension Cuts

AFTER GOVERNOR Patrick Quinn on April 20 unveiled his plan to alter State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and other pensions by raising the retirement age, increasing employee contributions, and threatening to withhold retiree health care for those who do not accept the new plan, the opposition weighed in.

THE WE Are One Illinois organization, a coalition of labor organizations working to protect public employee pensions, issued the following statements.
“FOR MORE than a year, Big Business interests have been waging an unrelenting campaign to eliminate public-sector defined-benefit pensions in Illinois. Time and again, the We Are One Illinois labor coalition has fought them to a standstill.
“NOW THAT battle has gotten even tougher. With the State budget in crisis, due in part to the enormous unfunded pension liability that must be paid down, political leaders are starting to jump on the pension slashing bandwagon.
“WE ARE One Illinois immediately issued a statement rejecting the Quinn plan, which would shift responsibility for the unfunded liability to employees—despite the fact that those same employees have always paid their share into the pension funds, while the State has too often failed to do so.
“HERE’S WHAT’S really disturbing, though: Growing numbers of legislators who have stood with us against slashing pension benefits in the past are now voicing support for the Governor’s plan.
“NO DOUBT the pension underfunding problem is dire, and ensuring that our pension systems are sound is a top priority for all public employees. But labor’s position is clear: Any changes to the pension systems must be fair to employees, constitutional, and developed through a process that includes the unions that represent public employees.”
WE ARE One included a toll-free hotline that will help interested parties call their State Representatives and Senators: (888) 412-6570.

IGPA Has Alternative to Governor’s Plan

THE INSTITUTE of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois has proposed a new hybrid retirement system for employees of public colleges and universities that would be partially funded by additional contributions from workers and the universities that employ them. See

THE PLAN concentrates on the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and is designed to reduce the State government’s payments into the system by billions of dollars over time.

“PENSIONS REPRESENT an important component of the overall compensation package for university employees and is key for us recruiting top-notch individuals,” said Robert F. Rich, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, who developed the proposal with Jeffrey R. Brown, an IGPA professor and the William G. Karnes Professor of Finance at the U of I’s Urbana-Champaign campus.

THE PLAN is intended to stimulate discussion among policymakers and legislators and is not intended to reflect the position of the University of Illinois, the authors said. Although the authors consulted with a large number of experts, they stress that the opinions expressed in the plan are their own. The full proposal can be found here. It contains several components that reflect some of the ideas that have been publicly discussed by State leaders in recent weeks.

THE PROPOSAL has four basic components: 1.) Create a new hybrid retirement system for new employees that would combine a scaled-down version of the existing SURS defined benefit plan with a new defined contribution plan that would include contributions from both employee and employer; 2.) Peg the SURS “Effective Rate of Interest” to market rates; 3.) Redistribute the SURS funding burden to include a modest increase in employee contributions and new direct contributions from universities, thereby reducing state government’s burden on state government; and 4.) Align pension vesting rules with the private sector, which would decrease the years new employees hired after Jan. 1, 2011, would need to work for their pension benefit to be vested.

THE PROPOSED reforms assume that all accrued benefits of current employees would remain unchanged up to the point reforms are implemented and that changing from an existing plan to the new hybrid plan would be voluntary for current employees.

"THIS PROPOSAL is designed to reduce costs by approximately as much as Senate Bill 512 (another drastic pension-cutting bill that has come up in the General Assembly from time to time), but in a manner that does a much better job of providing secure retirement benefits to employees,” Brown said. The proposed reforms to SURS reduce costs to State government, provide a better approach to sharing the funding burden, and provide a balanced and attractive approach to retirement security for employees, Brown and Rich said.

Senates Conference Committee Calls for Fair Resolution of Pension Crisis

THE UNIVERSITY Senates Conference (USC), a statutory advisory group to the President and Board of Trustees composed of members of the University Senates of the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Illinois at Springfield campuses, approved a resolution April 27 that endorses reforms that would improve the financial footing of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS).

THE DOCUMENT says any reforms being considered should maintain benefits promised to current participants.

“THE RESOLUTION embraces pension funding principles espoused by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) of the University of Illinois,” said Dr. Donald A. Chambers, Chair of the University Senates Conference and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at UIC. “The USC resolution is a sign that the highest group in the shared governance structure of the University of Illinois recognizes the need to address the SURS funding shortfall and for shared obligation.”

ON APRIL 30, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Senate unanimously expressed its support for the document.

THE FULL resolution and links to additional information are below.

Resolution on Pensions
University Senates Conference
April 27, 2012

THE UNIVERSITY Senates Conference (USC), in its role as a faculty elected advisory body to the President of the University and the Board of Trustees, recognizes that the funding basis for the State University Retirement System (SURS) is not sustainable in its current form. Previous underfunding of the system has made SURS unable to continue to pay out benefits indefinitely at current levels, even though participants have fully contributed their portion of responsibility for the system.

AS HAS been documented, Illinois ranks 50th among the 50 states in adequately funding its public pensions. This situation cannot be allowed to continue; retaining and recruiting top faculty to our universities will be increasingly difficult unless this issue is addressed.

TODAY WE face a reality in which sensible, equitable reforms are needed. The USC writes to acknowledge this reality and to seek a constructive way forward. Reforms will be needed in order to return the SURS system to a sound financial footing, and all stakeholders — participants, the universities, and the State — have a necessary role to play in such reforms. These reforms must be guided by certain agreed-upon principles, the most important of which is fairness to university employees who entered the system on the basis of certain understandings and commitments that need to be honored.

OTHER PRINCIPLES also seem to us reasonable and prudent as a solution is being worked out. Many of these principles are laid out and defended in the IGPA report authored by Jeffrey R. Brown and Robert F. Rich: Fiscal Sustainability and Retirement Security: A Reform Proposal for the Illinois State Universities Retirement Systems (SURS), Institute of Government & Public Affairs, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, Springfield, Feb. 9, 2012.
  • Any reformed SURS system must be financially sustainable for the State, the universities, and the participants, and it must respect existing constitutional protections of already-accrued benefits;
  • All promised benefits to current participants and annuitants should be maintained, as guaranteed by the State Constitution (Article 8, Section 5 General Provisions);
  • Existing unfunded liabilities must remain the State's responsibility, and the State must provide credible guarantees that future payments will be made on time (such as through a clause that state contributions to the system must have priority);
  • In addition, the State should continue to make its contributions to the system at a level at least equal to the level of what it would be paying to Social Security (6.2% of pay) along with its contributions to health care;
  • Any transfer of normal costs to universities must be nominal, and phased in gradually;
  • Any reform must include improvements to the current Tier II program for new employees, as suggested in the IGPA position paper referenced above (this could include a hybrid plan combining some elements of defined benefits and an employee self-managed plan), and this revised program should also be available to Tier I employees;
  • Any change in participant contributions must involve consultations with those affected. The USC is ready to participate in further discussions in order to seek a constructive resolution to these issues.
THE UIC Senate Executive Committee on May 2 passed the following resolution:
“The UIC Senate requests that the State of Illinois' Legislature engage the University of Illinois' faculty and staff in consultation regarding any proposed changes to the State University Retirement System (SURS). The Resolution on Pensions, passed unanimously by the University Senates Conference on April 27, 2012 and endorsed by the UIUC Senate, should serve as a starting point for meaningful discussion.”

“LEADERS OF our State's public universities have been engaged on their respective campuses and in Springfield for over a year to identify an equitable solution to the unsustainable pension funding shortfall,” said University of Illinois President-Designate Robert A. Easter and President Michael J. Hogan in a May 4 e-mail. The day before, the Presidents and Chancellors of the State's public universities acted in unison to provide a "Statement of Objectives" for  resolving this issue. They did so in a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and to the four leaders of the State House and Senate.

THE LETTER states that any changes affecting SURS must provide "a credible certainty of retirement security to our employees." It lays out principles and specific conditions essential for a successful pension stabilization proposal. "It must also be financially sustainable for the State, the universities, the participant, and it must respect existing constitutional protection against impairment of already-accrued pension benefits," the letter stated.

FOR MORE information:

SURSMAC Calls for Pension Protection

THE STATE UNIVERSITIES Retirement System Members Advisory Committee (SURSMAC) on May 8 passed a resolution calling for protection of SURS pensions.

THE RESOLUTION’S highlights include a call that “all promised benefits to current participants and annuitants should be maintained,” and that “existing unfunded liabilities must remain the State’s responsibility.”

SURSMAC INCLUDES representatives of all institutions covered by SURS, as well as two retiree representatives. The 19-member panel advises the Board of Trustees of SURS.

FOR THE full resolution, see below:

SURSMAC Resolution on Pensions
Adopted May 8, 2012

Whereas, Previous underfunding of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) has made SURS unable to continue to pay out benefits indefinitely at current levels even though participants have fully contributed their portion of the required amounts; and

Whereas, Given Illinois ranks last among the 50 states in adequately funding its public pensions, this situation cannot be allowed to continue since retaining and recruiting top faculty and staff will be increasingly difficult unless the issue is addressed;

Whereas, All stakeholders---participants, colleges and universities, and the state of Illinois—have a necessary role in any reform to bring the SURS to a sound financial state; and

Whereas, Reforms must be guided by agreed upon principles, the most important of which is fairness to participants and annuitants who entered into the system on the basis of certain understandings and commitments that need to be honored;

Resolved, That any changes to SURS must be financially sustainable for the State, the institutions, and the participants and must respect existing constitutional protections of already-accrued benefits;

 Resolved, That all promised benefits to current participants and annuitants should be maintained, as guaranteed by the State Constitution (Article 8, Section 5 General Provisions);

Resolved, That existing unfunded liabilities must remain the State’s responsibility with credible guarantees that future payments will be made on time;

Resolved, That the State should continue to make its contributions to SURS at a level at least equal to that it would be paying to Social Security (6.2% of pay) along with its contributions to health care;

Resolved, That any transfer of normal costs to institutions must be nominal and phased in gradually;

Resolved, That any reform must include improvements to the current Tier II program for new employees and this revised program should be an option for Tier I employees; and

Resolved, That any changes in participant contributions must involve consultations with those affected.

Medicaid Cuts Could Impact UIC Bottom Line

GOVERNOR PATRICK Quinn’s proposed $2.7 billion in cuts to Medicaid, if passed, could have a major impact on UIC, since its healthcare facilities provide services to thousands of Medicaid patients.

THERE ARE three components of Quinn’s plan: a $1 a pack increase in the cigarette tax, an across the board cut to Medicaid providers of $625 million, and 58 line item cuts that total up to $1.35 billion.
CUTS TO providers could “jeopardize access to care” and “bear the brunt of costs” on healthcare facilities such as UIC’s, argues Larry Joseph, the fiscal policy director for Voices for Children Illinois.
PRIVATE HEALTHCARE practitioners can refuse to treat Medicaid patients, and more are likely to do so with lower State Medicaid reimbursements. Public healthcare facilities such as UIC’s, though, cannot legally deny patients. So less money from the State could lead to a number of collateral issues, including healthcare facilities passing on the costs to all their patients, and also laying off staff, according to the Campaign for Better Health Care.
THE LINE item cuts include reductions in preventive care services like an Illinois Cares RX program for prescription drugs and also adult dental services.
Editor’s note: The above article is from Matthew Blake, Progress Illinois. For an alternative to the State’s plan for Medicaid cuts, see “Safety-net hospital group proposes alternatives to Illinois Medicaid cuts,” Gazette, May 4, 2012:

HR, SUCCS Reach Deal on Research Personnel AP Status

UIC HUMAN Resources has been working closely with both the Research Advisory Council and the Executive Director of the State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) to come to an agreement about which research jobs should be exempted from their system and classified as Academic Professional and which should be Civil Service positions.

“I AM very happy to report that SUCSS has agreed to a framework we developed in conjunction with members of the Research Advisory Council,” said Maureen Parks, Executive Director and Associate Vice President of Human Resources.

THIS FRAMEWORK detailed the key job characteristics, research activities, and skills for the Research Specialist and Research Technologist positions.  Both the “Research Specialist” and “Senior Research Specialist” will be designated as Academic Professional. “Research Technologist I” and “Research Technologist II” will remain Civil Service. 

“HAVING THESE positions carefully defined will make our job analysis process much more expedient and will allow departments the necessary flexibility needed to hire qualified staff,” Parks said. “While there are still a couple of outstanding issues, this is a great stride in the right direction.”

THE UIC Human Resources office still has several steps to take to implement this new structure, including developing generic standard job descriptions for each title. “We are also in the process of developing a communication plan for sharing this information with the Research Advisory Council, HR Professionals, hiring managers, and the UIC faculty,” Parks said. “The UIC HR team understands the criticality and urgency of this issue and we will work as quickly as possible to put plans into action.”

APAC SURS Town Hall Meeting Held

Lee Bridges talked about retirement and pensions at a Town Hall meeting.

THE INSIDE Scoop—Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about SURS (the State Employees Retirement System), was the subject of a standing-room only APAC Town Hall Meeting on May 22 at the College of Medicine West Building.

THE PRESENTER was Lee Bridges, Members Services Representative, SURS.

RETIREMENT, PENSIONS, and pending legislation have captured the attention of the campus in recent months, and Bridges covered those issues and more.

A COPY of the handout from the presentation is available here.

Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award Nominations Due in June

THE CHANCELLOR’S Academic Professional Excellence Award (CAPE) acknowledges the demonstrated excellence of Academic Professional employees (APs). The CAPE Award honors the contributions of individual staff members and encourages the professional growth and achievement of APs at UIC. Each winner of the CAPE Award receives a $1,000 permanent salary increase, a certificate and a pin. The names of the winners are added to the CAPE plaque on the first floor of University Hall. In addition, a $2,000 one-time cash award is given to each recipient.  For nomination form, see

THE DEADLINE for receipt of nominations and all supporting credentials is noon on Friday, June 29, 2012. The CAPE awards will be presented in November at a reception as part of the UIC Employee Recognition Week.  2012 Nomination forms are available here.  If you have any questions, please contact William S. Bike, Chair of the 2012 CAPE Selection Committee, at or at (312) 996-8495.

APAC Meetings Scheduled; All Invited

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in Room 5175 of the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus.

SCHEDULED MEETINGS are June 13 in Room 5175 CMRB, July 11 in Room 2750 UH, Aug. 8 in Room 5175 CMRB, Sept 12 in Room 2750 UH, Oct. 10 in Room 5175 CMRB, Nov. 14 in Room 2750 UH, Dec. 12 in Room 5175 CMRB. For information, call (312) 996-0306.

APAC PROFILE: New APAC Member Ahlam Al-Kodmany Looks to Increase APAC Accomplishments

Ahlam Al-Kodmany is a
newly elected APAC member.
By Ivone De Jesus

AHLAM AL-KODMANY, PhD,, a newly elected APAC member, is the Director of Financial Operations at the Institute for Health Research and Policy (IHRP) at the School of Public Health. Having been in this position for nine years, and at the University 23 years, Al-Kodmany says “no two days are alike.”

“THE PEOPLE at IHRP, from the investigators to the students, create a great environment to work in,” she said.

AL-KODMANY decided to get involved in APAC because she wanted to help make a difference in the work environment that “we as APs live in 8-to-12 hours a day,” she said.

WHILE SHE is new to serving on APAC, having been on board for two months, she is quite familiar with the work accomplished. “I’m proud of the high quality events sponsored by APAC the last few years, including sessions on SURS, the budget, retirement, and the Academic Restructuring Committee.”  Al-Kodmany added that the commitment of the APAC Executive Committee, its input into campus policy, and its outreach across the Chicago campuses and University as a whole, are inspiring. 

LOOKING FORWARD, she would like to see APAC achieve a few things, including influencing the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and the State Universities Civil Service System boards, noting, “UIC is not a one-size-policy-fits-all situation.”  Al-Kodmany hopes APAC can put forth policies to protect the rights of APs, including seniority, professional development and advancement, and salary. She strongly believes that a degreed workforce is imperative at the University of Illinois. 

AL-KODMANY encourages APAC members to attend monthly meetings and to volunteer on committees. She stated, “without your participation and assistance, it will be difficult to advance our goals quickly and efficiently.”  She also added that non-members should consider joining because “APAC is a wonderful organization to have your ideas heard, and our collective goals realized.” 

IN HER spare time, Al-Kodmany enjoys cooking and gardening as well as spending time with her family – her husband (and UIC faculty member) Professor Kheir Al-Kodmany and their four children Nur 10, Muhsen 9, Suendus 4, and Imran 1.

AP RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT: Resume & Cover Letter Resources

THE ANTICIPATED increase in retirements this year also means an increase in job openings on campus. Existing employees can take advantage of this great opportunity for promotion and career advancement. 

IN ORDER to help you with your professional goals, APAC has added a new page to our "Careers" section, Resume & Cover Letter Resources, with links to dozens of sample resumes and cover letters from leading employment websites such as There also are links to resume and cover letter writing tips, advice for interviewing, resume and cover letter templates from Microsoft Office, and more. Visit the new page at:

OTHER PAGES in the APAC Careers section include:

*UIC Job Postings, with quick links to the two HR websites that list on-campus position announcements.
*Training Offices & Campus Classes, with links to free on-campus professional development opportunities available from various offices.
*Waivers, Release Time & Mentoring, with links to campus policies that help support your professional growth.
*Professional Certifications, with links to programs to help your resume stand out.


UIC UNITED retirement blog:


President Designate Robert Easter.
Editor’s Note: “The Continuing Crisis” is a section of APAC News which links to news pertinent to the state budget crisis and other financial matters as they affect the University and Academic Professionals. These news outlets are not affiliated with or endorsed by APAC.

GOVERNOR ASKS business leaders to pressure General Assembly to pass changes in our pensions, says Springfield Journal-Register of May 14:

UNIONS GEAR up to oppose pension changes, says Springfield Journal-Register of May 15:

Vol. 5, No. 5, May 2012

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Writing Staff: Jennifer Costanzo, Ivone De Jesus, Tomeiko Sewell

Chair: Michael Moss
Vice Chair: Jennifer Rowan
Secretary: Jacqueline M. Berger
Treasurer: Virginia Buglio
Webmaster: Jeff Alcantar