The lawsuit is now under way.
This is the lawsuit on behalf of state workers and retirees, filed Tuesday in Springfield, seeking to invalidate the new pension law. Henry Bayer, president of AFSCME, the union representing state workers, says it’s an important case.
“We’re talking about the life savings of people who dedicated their careers to public service and were made promises and those promises must be kept. It’s not only unconstitutional but unfair not to pay people the benefits that they’ve earned,” he said.
The law seeks to rein in the state’s $100 billion unfunded pension liability by cutting the 3 percent annual escalator in retirement benefits and raising the retirement age. The lawsuit claims these changes violate contracts – membership in a pension system is a contract – and the Constitution, which states that retirement benefits cannot be “diminished or impaired.”
The We are One coalition of labor organization filed the suit in Sangamon County on behalf of 25 named plaintiffs, and they are seeking class-action status to cover everyone affected by changes in the retirement systems for teachers, state university workers and state employees.
The defendants are the state constitutional officers and pension systems.
The named plaintiffs:
- Lee Ayers of Chicago, a clinical lab technician at a university medical center for approximately 25 years
- David Behymer of Rushville, a retired teacher who taught art to children ranging from pre-school to high school for 30 years
- Christine Bondi of Ontarioville, who has worked for the Illinois Secretary of State for approximately 28 years as a public service representative and administering driving tests
- Monica Butts of Westville, a cashier with the Secretary of State for more than 12 years
- Gary Ciaccio of Kankakee, who for 33 years has worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services, caring for people with mental health issues or developmental disabilities
- Edward Corrigan of Pontiac, who retired after approximately 20 years as a correctional officer at an Illinois prison
- Michael Day of O’Fallon, a high school history teacher for 20 years
- Kenneth Dugan of Pesotum, an Air Force veteran and former state trooper who retired after serving nearly 30 years as a firefighter for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fire department
- Jennifer Edwards of Chicago, who retired after approximately 30 years in various positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago, including assistants to the History Department chairperson and the head of the Department of Pediatrics
- Elaine Ferguson of Nauvoo, a retired teacher who taught kindergarten and first grade for more than 30 years
- Denise Funfsinn of Mendota, a special education teacher for 29 years
- Terri Gifford of Springfield, a health and physical education teacher for approximately 30 years
- Gwendolyn Harrison of Springfield, who has helped citizens find information for 14 years as a librarian for the Illinois Secretary of State
- James Herrington of Fairview Heights, a high school and college math teacher for 35 years
- Marlene Koerner of Herrin, a retiree who taught for more than 30 years
- Gary Kroeschel of Chatham, who has served as an information systems analyst for approximately 14 years
- Ellen Larrimore of Chicago, a library specialist for the past seven years at Northern Illinois University
- J. Todd Louden of Good Hope, who for nearly 30 years served in the Western Illinois University police force
- Stephen Mittons of Sun River Terrace, who is a child protection investigator and has worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for approximately 19 years
- Jose Prado of Willowbrook, who has worked as a correctional officer and sergeant in an Illinois state prison for 15 years
- James Sheridan of DeKalb, who has served as a maintenance worker at Northern Illinois University for 13 years
- Thomas Tate of Salem, a nurse who for 34 years has served in the Illinois Department of Human Services caring for individuals with developmental disabilities
- D’Ann Urish of Springfield, a special education teacher who has spent 31 years educating middle school students with behavioral and learning disorders
- Caryl Wadley-Foy of Bradley, who retired after 32 years as a secretary in a state residential facility for individuals with developmental disabilities
- Julie Young of Owaneco, an 11-year employee of the Secretary of State.