Teamsters Local 700 commends the Illinois Supreme Court for today’s ruling that declared the City of Chicago’s plan to cut pensions from city workers and retirees as unconstitutional.
The court’s decision upheld a previous ruling by the Cook County Circuit Court in favor of Local 700 and our members, saying the law violated a clause of the Illinois constitution that guarantees pension benefits cannot be diminished.
Over the past two years, Local 700 has been at the forefront of fighting legislation that threatened to sharply reduce pension benefits for state and city workers and retirees. Collectively, Local 700 has spent $418, 210 on two different lawsuits; fighting both the state and city pension reform laws.
“This is a huge and historical win for Teamsters Local 700 City of Chicago members, retirees and their families,” said Becky Strzechowski, Local 700 President. “Our members should not have to bear the burden of losing their valuable retirement benefits that they deserve because of the city’s mismanagement of resources. This decision should set the standard across the state when it comes to ensuring public employees receive what the government has promised them: constitutionally-protected pension benefits.”
Aimed at raising pension contribution rates of Chicago municipal employees and laborers, city officials introduced Senate Bill 1922 (SB 1922) in early 2014. The bill was passed and was signed into law by the governor on June 9, 2014.
Local 700, along with AFSCME Council 31, the Chicago Teachers Union and the Illinois Nurses Association, formed a coalition in November 2014 to fight against the city’s plan to cut pensions. On Dec. 16, 2014, the coalition filed suit to overturn the pension law, claiming the city violated the state constitution’s pension protection clause. Local 700 members were named as some of the plaintiffs in the case.
On Jan. 1, 2015, the SB 1922 pension law went into effect for city members that participated in the Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund (MEABF) before it was found unconstitutional by the circuit court in July 2015. The city appealed and on Nov. 17, 2015, the case spurred by Local 700 and the other unions went before the Illinois Supreme Court.
“We are thankful to our fellow unions who joined us in this fight as we all remain committed to protecting our members’ rights and their pension benefits that they have worked so hard to earn,” said Strzechowski.
In 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court cited the pension clause of the state constitution as well in striking down Senate Bill 1, legislation that would have reduced pension benefits for public employees across Illinois.