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Illinois Federation Helps Stop Assault on Worker Pensions

In a big victory for members of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and other public employees in the state, the Illinois House leadership announced on May 30 that the chamber will not be voting on proposed legislation that would have cut workers' pensions.

"Make no mistake about it; YOU made the difference in this fight," Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery wrote in a letter to members. "The assault on your hard-earned pension and the pensions of most of Illinois' dedicated public servants was stopped because you made your voice heard."

IFT members joined with thousands of other unionists and concerned Illinois citizens to tell lawmakers to do the right thing and keep the state's pension promise to its public servants. The union was part of the We Are One Illinois coalition of unions that helped spread that message. Citizens contacted state lawmakers in unprecedented numbers, sending more than 100,000 e-mails and making more than 80,000 phone calls in recent weeks.

"Congratulations to all of you for your hard work to stop S.B. 512. Your activism truly was the key to killing this unconstitutional legislation," Montgomery wrote, but added that the issue is far from over. Legislators pushing the changes have said they will convene meetings on pension changes throughout the summer. "Rest assured that your union will continue to fight any unconstitutional attempts to diminish your pensions," Montgomery vowed. "We know you will be prepared to assist us in our efforts again when the need arises." [Illinois Federation of Teachers, Dan Gursky]

May 31, 2011