May 15, 2012

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.

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