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We Are One Illinois Coalition Seeks Injunction to Halt Implementation of Pension Theft Legislation (SB 1)

On May 12, 2014, the We Are One Illinois union coalition and plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in Sangamon County Circuit Court to seek a full stay of the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (Public Act 98-599), pending a resolution on the act’s merits.

SB 1 slashes cost-of-living adjustments, reducing the value of pension benefits by one-third or more after twenty years in retirement. It also hikes retirement ages by up to five years and makes other unfair, unconstitutional cuts to the pensions of working and retired members of the Teachers' Retirement System, State Employees' Retirement System, and State Universities Retirement System.

"The pension theft bill must not be implemented before the courts have ruled. The fair and proper thing to do is not to allow this legislation to cause any damage until the courts have spoken on its constitutionality. Otherwise, teachers, first responders, nurses, and other state and university employees and retirees will be irreparably harmed," said Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, on behalf of the coalition.

"People are being forced to make irrevocable, life-altering retirement decisions,” Carrigan continued, “yet they face these decisions in an uncertain economic environment while awaiting a court ruling. The pension theft bill should -- and, we believe, will -- be overturned, but the decision to retire cannot be undone.”

The court filing also argues that the harm to pension system members and the pension systems themselves will be immediate without an injunction, but an injunction would not immediately impact the state’s fiscal situation. The filing states: “To the extent that the Act purports to fix pension system funding issues, that fix is implemented over a long term. The State admits in its recent budget projections that no savings would be realized from the Act until Fiscal Year 2016.”

Carrigan concluded, “A complete stay of the bill's implementation is necessary to avoid irreparably harming active and retired teachers and state and university employees.”


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