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posted: 5/15/2012 6:15 PM

Unions plan protests over pensions

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By Ryan Voyles
rvoyles@dailyherald.com

SPRINGFIELD -- Public employee unions are planning to take to legislative offices today as teachers and other unions push to have their voices heard in the debate over pension cutbacks.

Union members want to encourage lawmakers to slow down pension reform discussions and not approve anything without more debate. The rally is put together by the "We Are One Illinois," a coalition of labor unions which includes the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

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The rally today is part of the increased effort unions have made recently to get their message across to lawmakers.

AFSCME, IEA and IFT have posted links and numbers on their websites for members to contact lawmakers, and the unions are set to unveil TV ads.

Lawmakers have less than three weeks to try to lower the state's escalating pension costs before their budget-making deadline. Some proposals would cut benefits for state employees, as well as shift pension costs to local schools or municipalities.

Quinn is proposing teachers pay 3 percent more of their salaries toward retirement. He'd also raise the retirement age to 67, lower annual pension benefit increases for future retirees and have local school districts pay more for teachers' retirements.

The unions say they have offered concessions to lawmakers, though they decline to detail those concessions or an overall union plan to address the state's debt.

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