In 2015, SEIU Local 73 challenged Public Act 098-0622, the pension law that would have required Chicago Park District employees to work longer before being eligible to retire and earn less in retirement. Earlier this month, we won!
The Cook County Circuit found the entirety of the pension amendments unconstitutional. This means that employees will have the same rights to retire and enjoy cost of living benefits in retirement as they had before the law was passed. The judge also ordered the Park Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to pay back participants increased contributions made between January 1, 2015 through March 23, 2018. The Park District payroll plan to change the employee contribution rate back to 2015 levels of 9% on March 23.
What does this mean for us moving forward? The Park District has to refund all fund participants all contributions that exceeded 9%, and active employees should see their contribution revert to 9%. The Fund has 60 days to send to the union its calculation of back pay participants are owed. Upon completion of the union’s review, the Park District will issue reimbursements to participants.
However, the attacks on modest pensions earned by public employees remains one of our biggest challenges. The officials that we elect this November will either be a part of the solution, or perpetuate the attacks. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to elect a pro-worker governor and other pro-worker candidates this fall. We will be establishing a committee of members to work with leadership of Local 73 within the next 60 days to work on coming up with a common sense solution to this complicated issue.