WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Rally Protests Potential Pension Changes

May 16, 2012

A rally in Macomb's Chandler Park united public school teachers, professors and other union members. They oppose Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to change their pension plans.

Chanting “Protect Our Pensions” about 400 participants signed petitions and listened to several speakers.

John Miller, president of the University Professionals of Illinois chapter at Western Illinois University, helped organize the local rally.

He says, “We are very concerned about how quickly pension reform seems to be occurring and that we want to ensure that it is not fast-tracked and that we are involved in sitting at the table.”

Illinois Governor Quinn has proposed shifting much of the state's pension burden onto local governments and system participants.He has also called for reductions in benefits.

Craig Burns, president of the Bushnell-Prairie City Education Association, was one of the participants. He says teachers would not be the only ones affected if the governor succeeds in shifting the burden for pensions.

He says, “Pushing this burden back onto my school district is going to lead to cuts in programs, cuts in staff. This means bus driver jobs. This means cafeteria worker jobs. Teachers. Program assistants. And all of that eventually impacts our students.”
Miller led a march from the park up Lafayette Street to the office of Representative.Norine Hammond. Her office closed before the marchers arrived. They went on to the local office of Senator John Sullivan. They presented signed petitions to a member of his staff.