FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, October 22, 2012
GREEN PARTY LEADERS SLAM PROPOSED PENSION AMENDMENT,
CALL ON WORKERS TO ABANDON ANTI-LABOR DEMOCRATS AND SUPPORT GREENS
Illinois Green Party leaders and candidates called out the state’s Democratic leadership, urging voters to reject Proposed Amendment 5.1 to the Illinois Constitution and to hold legislators responsible for undermining public sector workers.
“This amendment has nothing to do with the underfunded pension crisis in Illinois,” said Illinois Green Party Chair Phil Huckelberry. “This is a cynical ploy by legislators to punish public sector workers.”
The measure, formally known as “HJRCA 49: Proposed Amendment 5.1 to Article XIII of the Illinois Constitution”, would require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system. It would also require that any local collectively-bargained agreement be approved by a three-fifths majority if those agreements had incentives or additional compensation increases beyond salary.
The amendment has been couched in terms of “pension reform”. However, a study by Ralph Martire from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability makes clear that the amendment would have no positive effect on the pension fund debt crisis which has plagued Illinois. Martire points out that the crisis has stemmed primarily from the General Assembly borrowing against the pension funds. The Chicago Tribune has also found through a recent poll that voters primarily blame politicians, not unions and workers, for the pension funding crisis.
Nevertheless, the Illinois House voted unanimously to approve HJRCA 49. All but two members of the Illinois Senate voted for the measure as well.
“It will take a supermajority to approve basic worker compensation packages, but only a bare majority to approve further corporate handouts,” said Paula Bradshaw, Green candidate for 12th Congress. “It’s clear on whose side both the Democrats and Republicans fall. We choose to stand with the people.”
“Never has it been more obvious how little our elected officials think of public sector employees,” said Nancy Wade, Green candidate for 5th Congress. “We urge those workers to rise up and reject both the Democrats and Republicans. From Chicago to Springfield to Washington, both corporate parties are selling the people out to corporate interests. But as we saw here in Chicago, people are tired of being sold out and abused.”
Green candidates and leaders have been at the forefront of defending public sector employees. Nancy Wade and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein both joined Chicago Teachers Union members at picket lines during their recent strike. State Chair Huckelberry asserts that it is clearer than ever that the Democrats have abandoned their erstwhile allies, and that workers should redirect their attention to Green candidates.
“Any union which wants to take a stand, let’s sit down and talk,” said Huckelberry. “Let’s work together to run candidates against the worst of the anti-worker, anti-union elected officials in Illinois, regardless of which party they belong to. Let’s start in early 2013 with local school boards. Then, in 2014, it’s time to save Illinois by taking down Madigan and his stooges.”
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