Elections, Pensions and the Illinois Constitution.

Sisters and Brothers:

Pension Politics

Tim, Brendan and I are back from Springfield on a lobbying effort by our Local and AFSCME Council 31, and other members of the We Are One Coalition to bring the truth about pensions to the lawmakers in Illinois, who are on the verge of changing the landscape of our retirement plans.  On Wednesday May 11, 2011, 500 AFSCME leaders descended on the State Capitol to remind and explain to the members of the General Assembly that we’ve done our part by making our contributions toward our pensions each pay period and now government needs to do its part and  keep its pension promises to public employees.

How we got into this mess is the fault of our public officials.  For far too long, the State has shirked it’s responsibility of matching the contributions State employees have been making to their pension funds and the result has been a balooning of the State’s pension obligations.  The response from big business, AKA the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, has been to put the blame for the legislative neglect at our doorstep and characterize our pensions as more than generous.  The have done it using the “Illinois is Broke” campaign and they enjoy the support of the pro-business editorial boards of the major Chciago papers- which both have had their share of financial problems.  They they have pitted working class in private industry with public employees.  And it’s no secret that big business fought tooth and nail to keep the private sector  from having collective bargaining (think WALMART).  Now, they are portraying teachers, fire fighters and child protection workers as fat cat bureaucrats who don’t deserve their modest pensions.

The new bill, which is not completely available at this time (because it is a “shell bill” which will be amended later) will most likely force members to choose one of three options going forward: 1) go into a 401k, 2) join the Tier II system like all new hires after 1/1/2011 (retire at age 67, no 3%COLA and a cap of 106K  on salary) or 3) stay in the current system but pay more  in contributions (as high as 28% but we don’t now yet).  Rumor has it that it will apply to State Employees including the General Assembly, but not the Judges Retirement System.  Also, rumor has it that President P and Rahm Emmanuel have asked that the legislation apply to City of Chicago and County employee retirement systems as well! The bottom line is that the General Assembly is going to try to push this problem over to the judiciary to solve and they are playing their best hand by excluding the judges.  We will update the members and have a link to any bill sent via email burst as it becomes available.

I know many of  you called your elected officials and left messages or spoke to them about this issue and how it’s unfair to make us pay for the legislative neglect of the past.  I know you have made the arguments like the fine lawyers that you are about the unconstitutionality of their plan to make current employees pay more into their pensions.  And I know some of you sent letters explaining your position and urging support.  Keep up the pressure and continue with all available means to let your State Representative and State Senator know that a pension is a promise that is protected by the Constitution. Tell your state senator and representative to OPPOSE the pension bill by calling 888-412-6570 or using the simple Click-to-Call tool at http://www.weareoneillinois.org/click-to-call to be connected.

ELECTIONS

Another election is over and has gone smoothly under the guiding hand of Election Chair Christa Petty and all the brothers and sisters who helped staff the polling places.  Also, it was refreshing to see new faces run for the board.  I want to thank Mary Butterton, Colleen Gorman, Sara Resnick, Richard Porter and Presita West for their efforts to win an Executive at Large seat on the Executive Board of this Local.  They each presented the members with their vision, and qualifications to make any one of them an effective member of the board.  It is their participation in the process that makes our Local a true democracy.

Bruce Mosbacher and Monique Patterson will be stepping down from the Board.  Bruce is retiring and has also resigned as administrator of the Local’s FB page.  Amy Thompson, who will continue as our Secretary, will now also be an administrator of our FB page along with myself and our Council 31  staff rep, Maggie Lorenc.  Monique is now the Trustee-elect for the position currently held by Beatriz Santiago which expires in July.

I want to thank Tim Leeming for his service as Treasurer and welcome his continued involvement on the Board and also look forward to his help in fostering a smooth transition for our incoming Treasurer, Mark Douglass. Kevin Ochalla will join Tim Leeming and Joe Gump as the three Executives at Large for the local.

A decision on who will succeed Monique Patterson in the role of Chief Steward has not yet been made.

HOLIDAY BOND COURT

The local is still in discussions with management regarding the lack of funding for it’s continued compliance with our contract with respect to Holiday Bond Court pay.  This payment was negotiated back in the mid 90’s.  Prior to that, the attorneys with the lowest 150 seniority would have to do bond court without any pay or comp time. While no agreement has been reached on how to fill the 348 slots between June and the end of the fiscal year, I will update the members as the situation warrants through email burst.

JOB AUDITS

The local has been told that written job audit results will be forthcoming from Human Resources next week. Preliminary numbers are quite high for members working out of grade and requiring reclassification.  The office, however must still explain to the President’s office the legal basis for the increase in our budget for the reclassification.

STAY INFORMED

If you aren’t receiving the email bursts in which we discuss matters in more detail, send an email to board@cookcountypd.org. Members only, please.  Also, stay tuned for our updated website.

In Solidarity,

K. S. Galhotra


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2 Comments

  1. Justice Cardozo
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Years ago, a Judge who was a former PD brought me as a guest to a Mike Madigan fundraiser. The place was absolutely packed with Judges who he either put on the Bench or he had them believing he had great sway in them being elected to the Bench.
    It was pathetic..the “independent judiciary” paying homage like they were precinct captains employed at Streets and San.
    MIKE MADIGAN IS THE PROBLEM…1ST AND FOREMOST.

  2. Trouble
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    A: The “Optional Plan”, when active, provided the member with the “option” to have an additional 3% withheld from their salary to provide an additional 1% annuity benefit for every year they contributed to the Pension fund. The plan was active from April 1986 to June 2005. Payments can no longer be made.

    Is this issue addressed in SB512??

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