Pensions

Fact sheets/News Releases:

The We Are One Illinois coalition has issued a “White Paper” that explains the origins of Illinois’ pension problem and proposes ideas for addressing the issue.

What is IEA’s position on pensions?

  • Any proposed changes must be legal under the Illinois Constitution:
    “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” – Article XIII, Section 5
  • After meeting the constitutional requirement, any modifications should be fair to our members.
  • Any change must maintain the stability of the state retirement systems.

Talking Points

  • Teachers, community college and university faculty and staff, and other public employees have offered to accept changes that would save the state billions, including increasing our contributions to the pension systems. We’re willing to pay more to make sure the systems remain solvent, but there must be shared sacrifice.
  • All top policymakers agree that the employees did nothing wrong, so insisting that they bear the sole responsibility for fixing a crisis caused by political irresponsibility is unacceptable. The employees are willing to sacrifice, but they cannot be the only ones to do so.
  • The proposals Gov. Quinn and others have offered would damage public education. In order for public education institutions to be able to continue to attract and retain high quality people, there must be reasonable retirement benefits available.
  • The pension represents the entire life savings for most Illinois public employees, as most do not receive Social Security.
  • Many of the corporations whose CEOs have called for “pension reform” pay little or no state income tax. By avoiding fair taxes, these corporations helped create the current problem. They need to pay their fair share.
  • No legislation to change the pension systems should be enacted without the agreement of the unions representing employees. Our coalition will continue to work with the state’s political leaders as long as they are making a good faith effort to reach a solution that is constitutional and fair to employees.

What can YOU do?

Members of the General Assembly need to hear from ALL IEA members! Some forms of communication are more effective than others. In order of effectiveness:

  1. Hold face-to-face meetings with your state legislators to discuss pensions.
  2. Call your state legislators’ offices and share your position.
  3. Send a hand-written original letter to your state legislators.
  4. Call your legislators at 888-412-6570 or click here to call.
  5. Email your state legislators.
  6. Write a letter to the editor

What do YOU need to know?

  • TRS, SURS, and IMRF are Defined Benefit Plans – Protect them.
  • Defined Benefit plan – your retirement benefit is defined for LIFE (predictability)
  • Defined Contribution plan – (similar to a 401(k) plan) – your retirement benefit is determined by your ability to invest in tumultuous markets! Imagine retiring on a 401(k) in 2009 without social security benefits, as teachers receive none.

Other information/updates on pensions and pension systems:

Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS)
TRS is a public pension plan for Illinois public school teachers and administrators.

State Universities Retirement System of Illinois (SURS)
SURS serves a diverse group of employees with occupations ranging from professors and teachers to clerical, building service workers, groundskeepers and provides retirement, survivor, disability, and death benefits to over 212,000 members throughout the world.

Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF)
IMRF has provided employees of local governments and school districts in Illinois (with the exception of the City of Chicago and Cook County) with a sound and efficient system for the payment of retirement, disability, and death benefits.