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Chicago Labor Unions Form Coalition To Protect Pensions

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago labor unions just announced a new coalition, We Are One Chicago, designed to defend the pensions of city employees and retirees, reports WBBM's Kimberly Easton.

"We Are One Chicago" consists of teachers, firefighters, nurses and police all united to protect city employees and retirees.

Chicago Labor Unions Form Coalition To Protect Pensions

Patricia Boughton, a retired public school teacher, says the Mayor's pension reform plan is nothing more than theft.

"I keep saying that I feel we have been robbed, that someone is stealing from us," said Boughton.

81-year old Louise Bates-Spencer, a retired health department employee said if Senate Bill 1 or a similar measure is applied in the city it will devastate seniors. Bates-Spencer said the politicians didn't pay their share.

She continued, while we earned our pension, we worked for it and we paid for it and it is our livelihood. Bate-Spencer said now it's like throwing seniors to the wolves all the cuts they want to levy are against Seniors, the most vulnerable of society.

Union coalition
Chicago labor leaders announce the formation of a coalition to protect pensions. (Credit: Kimberly Easton.)

We Are One Chicago plans to rally at the Capitol in Springfield to educate lawmakers and mobilize Illinoisans against cutting the modest savings of the city's employees and retirees.

"I want to sit down with the unions, like I did in 12 separate meetings last year, and negotiate a pension reform bill, which passed with their support," said Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton.

Cullerton spoke, flanked by charts showing state revenues falling far short of paying the state's expenses next year, due in large part to the scheduled mid-year rollback of the 66 percent state income tax increase.

"We have a $3 billion hole in the budget and if we don't solve it, we have to cut education by 27 percent which would mean Chicago will lose $300M," said Cullerton.

Republicans quickly called it political posturing.

"It's clear today they haven't fixed the problems," said Senate Minority leader Christine Radogno, "...and don't intend to let their so-called temporary tax increase roll back."

Mayor Emanuel says without pension reform Chicagoans face huge tax hikes even cuts to public safety personnel. The union coalition suggests tax reform and new taxes, including a sales tax on high end services. Sound familiar? It was dubbed the Rahm tax when candidate Emanuel proposed it and it quickly died, until now.

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