It is “crunch time” in the Illinois General Assembly. With a little more than 48 hours till session deadline, AFSCME members are fighting two big battles.

Along with other public sector unions in the We Are One Illinois union coalition, we are working to block passage of pension-slashing measures that would drastically undermine the retirement security of state of Illinois employees, as well as teachers and university employees.

Now our coalition has just learned that two pension-slashing bills—SB 1 and HB 1165—could be called for a vote in the Senate tomorrow. Both of these bills have already passed the House.

This is a critical time for you to act.

Call your state senators now at 888-412-6570 or click here. Even if you have called before, call again. Tell your state senators to stand with working families and retirees. Tell them vote NO on SB 1 and on HB 1165.

SB 1 is House Speaker Michael Madigan’s pension-cutting “mega-bill” that affects all current state employees. It deeply cuts COLAs, reducing the value of a pension between one-third and one-half after twenty years in retirement. It increases retirement ages up to five years and limits the amount of salary that earns a pension.

HB 1165 contains the same COLA cut as SB 1—the most onerous part of that bill. This cut caps the amount of pension that earns a COLA at extremely low levels and delays the COLA for five years.

A description of these bills is available on the We Are One website by clicking on the following link.

We’ve held off these steep cuts to pension benefits for more than two years, despite intense pressure from big business and big-time politicians. We can’t stop now. Keep the heat on!

Pass the Supplemental!

State employees are also battling for passage of a supplemental appropriation that would assure payment of back wages owed pursuant to the previous union contract.

Despite broad support from both Democratic and Republican representatives, Speaker Madigan has not allowed HB 212 HA 2, an appropriations bill which contains the funding needed to pay all of the back wages, to be called for a vote.

Calls are needed to state representatives right now. You can call their offices directly or reach them toll-free at (888) 912-5959. Tell them: State employees have waited nearly two years for pay increases owed under the previous union contract. I urge you to tell Speaker Madigan to allow a vote on HB 212, House Amendment 2 to pay the wages owed.

HB 212, sponsored by Rep. John Bradley, has been stuck in a House Committee for weeks now. Rep. Bradley and other Democratic leaders in the House have told AFSCME members that the supplemental would be part of any final “budget deal”. However, an FY 14 budget plan was passed out of the House yesterday, while the bill continues to languish in committee.

The new state contract came with a condition that the Quinn Administration would cooperate with the union to seek passage of a supplemental appropriation providing for payment of all back wages owed to state employees under the previous union contract.

Governor Quinn subsequently introduced HB 212 House Amendment 2 which would appropriate $140 million in FY 13 to provide for back wages owed to employees.

Thanks to intense lobbying by AFSCME members all across the state, the measure has broad support. But it can’t pass if it’s not called for a vote.

Your action is critical: Make sure that legislators understand that state workers are on the frontlines every day providing vital services and deserve to be treated fairly. Legislators need to speak out now to call for a vote on HB 212!

Sincerely,

Henry Bayer
Executive Director