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Finally, We Have Reached an Agreement

As you know, we have been fighting to protect our pensions for several years now. While defending against drastic attacks to our guaranteed benefits, we have also been proactively trying to address the state’s fiscal crisis. 

For the past several weeks, our union coalition has been meeting with Senate President John Cullerton to try to negotiate a pension agreement, demonstrating our willingness to share in the sacrifice and be part of the solution in the fairest way possible.

And finally, we have reached an agreement.

The agreement echoes our principles. It includes an ironclad funding guarantee, revenue by dedicating additional payments to the pension system, contractual protections for access to health care in retirement under several options, and limits the shared sacrifice asked of workers and retirees who did not cause this problem. You will find a full summary of the agreement here.

President Cullerton calls our agreement “credible” and “constitutional.” It represents our willingness to help stabilize our retirement systems, but remains our final, best offer.

We have paid into the systems dutifully from every paycheck while Springfield skipped payments. Because of the failures of the past, our only option is to establish a plan for the future.

With this agreement, we have protected 90-95% of most people's pension benefits. Making these additional sacrifices is not easy, but we also know that the cuts contained in Speaker Madigan’s destructive “mega-bill” - SB1 - would be drastically worse.
Madigan’s “mega-bill” looms large, and threatens to slash 20% - in some cases, 45%! - of your retirement savings. 

  • Madigan’s bill (SB1 as amended) cuts COLAs deeply through caps at extremely low levels, essentially ending the 3% compounded COLA as we know it for both active employees and most current retirees. Our agreement gives employees and retirees the option of maintaining a 3% compounded COLA.

  • Madigan’s SB1 raises retirement ages without regard to the physically- and mentally-demanding professions held by public workers – nurses, police, teachers, and corrections officers, just to name a few.. Our agreement does not change retirement age.

  • Madigan’s SB1 limits the amount of salary that earns a pension, failing to acknowledge the mandatory long hours and difficult jobs worked by many in public service. Our agreement offers viable ways to avoid that.

  • Madigan’s SB1 offers no choice. It simply imposes steep cuts without adequate consideration. Our agreement gives employees and retirees a range of options.

The Speaker’s bill passed the House with bipartisan votes and the support of editorial boards across the state. It claims to save the state billions, but we believe the court will overturn it and render those savings fictional, though the outcome of litigation is never guaranteed.

SB1 is robbery, plain and simple, and could be called for a Senate vote any moment.

All the while, the systems holding our life savings will barrel toward bankruptcy. We’ll be faced with further cuts to education and critical public services, and the fight will continue on and on.

The Senate is now at a crossroads. They can call our agreed-upon bill, or choose devastation of SB1. Your advocacy is critical. We must fight to support our agreement and vehemently OPPOSE Madigan's SB1.

House approval of SB1 was a setback, but it was not a defeat. The result of our negotiations in the Senate offers the best chance for victory in this fight.

We urge that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in both chambers embrace our agreement, and we ask that you encourage them to do so.
Call your state senators now toll-free at 888-412-6570 or click here. Ask them to reject SB1. Tell them to support SB2404, the fair and responsible plan agreed upon by the union coalition.
Thanks for all that you do.

See the complete We Are One coalition press statement below:

We Are One Illinois Union Coalition Reaches Pension Agreement with Senate President John Cullerton

The We Are One Illinois coalition of unions announced today that it has reached a negotiated pension agreement with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, who will sponsor the measure. Details are available at here.

The following statement is attributable to Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, on behalf of the We Are One Illinois coalition:
"The union coalition has made a great effort to ensure fairness for the public employees and retirees who did not cause this problem, to ensure the stability of the pension systems for future generations, and to offer a credible way forward. This agreement is our coalition's bottom line.
"We continue to strongly oppose Speaker Madigan's mega-bill, SB1, which threatens to rob the retirement savings of teachers, police officers, and others in public service, by 20-40 percent. His proposal is not only drastically unfair, but it is blatantly unconstitutional, rendering any advertised savings fictional.
"We urge lawmakers from both parties in both chambers to embrace the agreed bill and oppose SB1."





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