Last week Illinois House and Senate committees moved bills cutting public employee pension benefits to the floor for a vote. Floor votes could come this week. Your legislators need to hear from you now!

Call your state senator and state representative right now to tell them to oppose all bills that cut public employee pension benefits. Tell your senator to vote NO on SB 1 and SB 35. Tell your representative to vote NO on HB 3411. Call toll-free at 888-412-6570. Remind them you’ve earned these benefits, faithfully contributing your share while the state failed to pay its part.

Make your call as effective as possible. Be firm, but calm. State your message clearly. Leave your name—and make sure your legislator knows that you are a constituent.

The drumbeat for so-called pension reform is intensifying with Governor Quinn, Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton, and House Minority Leader Cross all ramping up the pressure on rank-and-file legislators.

The Senate Executive Committee voted out SB 1 and SB 35, while the House Pension Committee voted out HB 3411.

All of these bills would significantly reduce pension benefits for state employees, state university employees, and teachers. And they would all make employees and retirees bear the brunt of fixing the state’s pension woes.

The governor and legislative leaders are attacking AFSCME and our partners in the We Are One Illinois union coalition for blocking “pension reform”. But the unions have made very clear that we are willing to work constructively with all concerned parties to develop fair and constitutional pension changes.

What we won’t do is just stand back and let the state’s political leadership pass a bill that puts the whole burden of fixing the problem on employees and retirees.

In order to make clear labor’s commitment to fixing the state’s pension problem, the We Are One Illinois coalition has developed a fair and constitutional pension reform plan that is embodied in SB 2404 and HB 3162. But right now it looks like legislative leaders might not even allow these bills to get out of committee—so that legislators won’t have the opportunity to vote on them.

Here are the bills now before the General Assembly:

  • SB 1 – Voted out of Senate Executive Committee. It would cut benefits, temporarily freeze cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs), and permanently cap COLAs in a way that would see retirees’ purchasing power fall by over 30 percent. It also contains a “Plan B” that would force retirees to choose between reduced COLA payments and health care coverage. Tell your senator to OPPOSE SB 1.
  • SB 35/HB 3411 – Voted out of committee in the Senate and House. These bills have the same content and are known as the NBC plan, sponsored by Rep. Nekritz, Sen. Biss and Rep. Cross. They contain the same COLA reductions impacting active and retired employees as SB 1. They would also raise the retirement age, increase employee contributions, and force future SURS participants into a privatized, 401(k)-like Wall Street account. Tell your senator to OPPOSE SB 35 and your representative to OPPOSE HB 3411.
  • SB 2404/HB 3162 — These bills are backed by the We Are One Illinois union coalition. They do not make any changes to the benefits of current retirees. They contain an ironclad funding guarantee, and set up a pension stabilization fund that would help the state reduce the shortfall facing pension funds. In exchange, active public employees would pay an extra 2 percent toward pensions. It’s a balanced, constitutional plan that includes shared sacrifice while preserving the retirement security public workers have fought to achieve. Tell your senator to SUPPORT SB 2404 and your representative to SUPPORT HB 3162.

Floor votes could come on SB 1, SB 35 and HB 3411 this coming week. Call you state senator and state representative right away. Tell them to OPPOSE these bills.

Remember, you can reach your legislators by calling the We Are One hotline toll-free at (888) 412-6570 or by using our click-to-call tool.

For more than two years now, the state’s entire political leadership has been pushing to cut public employee pensions. The We Are One Illinois union coalition formed to push back and protect retirement security. So far, our coalition has succeeded in that goal because tens of thousands of union members have responded whenever the call for grassroots actions goes out.

Your involvement is critical. Even if you’ve called many times before, you have to call your legislators again now—and you will probably have to call them still more times in the weeks to come. Our opponents are unrelenting in their efforts to cut pension benefits. If anything, they’re becoming more ruthless and determined. So we can’t tire, either. We’ve got to be just as determined no matter how many times we’re called upon in this fight.

The We Are One Illinois coalition is made up of the Illinois State Federation of Labor, AFSCME, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Police, the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, the Police Benevolent and Protective Association, the SEIU, the Illinois Nurses Association, and the Laborers International Union.

Make sure your legislators know that they should not agree to any pension bill unless it has been agreed to by the We Are One Illinois union coalition. Your retirement security is at stake. Make sure your voice is heard.

Courtesy of AFSCME Council 31