May 26, 2011
UPDATE: Teamsters Fight Unconstitutional Pension Bill
"This legislation is unconstitutional, plain and simple," said William P. Logan, Local 700 Assistant Trustee. "People contribute to pensions with hopes of retiring with enough money to live on. This bill not only pushes the retirement age back for many people, but also hinder their ability to save as they had planned."
Under the proposal, state employees will be forced to either substantially increase their contribution to maintain their current benefits or see reduced benefits to maintain their current contribution level.
In order to maintain their current benefit level, employees can choose Tier One and see their contributions increase to as much as 13 percent with three-year adjustments. The second option, Tier Two, allows employees to hold their contributions at 7 percent but decreases their benefit level. A third option allows employees to opt into a defined contribution plan.
"No matter how you look at this, the state of Illinois is essentially stealing from our members' pension funds," said Becky Strzechowski, Local 700 Assistant Trustee. "What else can you call it when someone forces you to pay more money for less services?"
A similar package was approved by the General Assembly last year for all employees hired after January 1, 2011. Along with unions across the state, the Teamsters are closely monitoring the legality of these reforms.
"The Illinois Constitution is very clear in its protections of workers' pensions and the contractual obligations the state must meet to fulfill those benefits," said Logan. "Employees see their pension contributions taken from their paychecks each month. We will not stand to see our members suffer because the State of Illinois cannot balance its budget.
"The Teamsters will actively oppose these illegal and unconstitutional proposals."
If lawmakers successfully pass such pension legislation, changes would not go in effect until Jan. 1, 2013. Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has already stated his belief that pension increases would be unconstitutional, but that he would allow a vote in his chamber anyway.
"Teamsters will continue to lobby and have a presence in Springfield to protect our members rights and benefits at all costs," said Strzechowski.
Becky Strzechowski, President
1300 W. Higgins Rd. Suite 301
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