CFA Member’s Letter to Sen. Frerichs on Health Care Benefits for Retirees

Dear Senator Frerichs,
I am appalled that the state legislators think it is permissible to remove the state contribution to employee healthcare. For many of us, it is too late to save up more money so that we can pay what will be much higher premiums after retirement.
You write that “How much retirees would be required to contribute will be determined by the Director of Central Management Services (CMS).” But please remember that in fact the amount was negotiated when we signed our employment contracts and we have made our pension contributions based on that calculus. We trusted–unwisely it now appears–that the state would honor those contracts.
The employees of the state of Illinois will not quietly accept the state’s decision to stop paying its portion of its employees’ healthcare premiums. Lawsuits will surely ensue. Will that save the state a lot of money?
You wrote “Premium rates would not be solely decided by the state, as unions would have the opportunity to negotiate premium rates with CMS.” Please be aware that the instructor employees at UIUC have no union and that the university is spending vast sums on legal teams to prevent the formation of such a union.
Finally, when considering the health and security of employees after retirement, please remember that at UIUC we receive no social security. This means that with salary and retirement earnings, we earn considerably less than our peers at private institutions.  We saw that Wisconsin was a bad state for public workers. We are learning that Illinois is little better. Shame on the democratic representatives for not working harder to protect us.
D. Fairchild Ruggles
Professor, Landscape Architecture

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

11 responses to “CFA Member’s Letter to Sen. Frerichs on Health Care Benefits for Retirees

  1. Frerichs did indeed vote against the bill, but it is useful for him to hear from his constituents anyway, so that he has more material to work when the legislature comes after our pensions and health care again (which they undoubtedly will).

  2. Senator Frerichs has always fought for teachers. This is an unfair attack on one individual. He has always been a champion of fighting to ensure that people’s pensions are not affected by the state’s dire financial state. He has always pushed for education funding for universities through out the state. The real issue appears to be with the universities’ efforts to limit employee rights.

  3. Frerichs’ “nay” vote clearly demonstrates his disapproval of the bill, and it is misguided and unfair to hold him responsible for language used in a bill to which he was opposed.

  4. This was hard to read, don’t you know how to use a paragraph break?

    Also, shame on you for shaming Senator Frerichs before you did your research… let’s hope you don’t use the same careless research techniques for your actual job, the one netting you $103,611.00 a year from the taxpayers of Illinois.

    …Talk about appalling.

  5. Senator Frerichs past voting history demonstrates that he has tried to help teachers at the University of Illinois and promote funding for public institutions like U of I. In no way did he support this bill, which can be seen by his “nay” vote. I hope since there is only one signature on this poorly written letter, that Professor Ruggles is only representing herself. Not every teacher at the University. It’s a shame that Professor Ruggles is lashing out unfair criticism towards Sen. Frerichs who has her best interests at heart.

  6. This is a further comment sent to CFA from Dede Ruggles on the above thread which she initiated.
    After my recent posting, I would like to add the following to correct some of the inaccuracies in the blogs.

    Senator Frerichs has a well established record of voting for the values of the Democratic Party. I applaud that; I voted for him; and I will continue to vote for him. However, he is mistaken in his statement–and note that I quoted his own words in his quarterly news bulletin to supporters–that the union will represent retirees, because at UIUC we have no union. My remarks were clearly directed at his ill-advised attempt to sugarcoat the outcome of Senate Bill 1313, and at the Democratic Party legislators who supported the bill to deprive retirees of their earned healthcare coverage. Indeed SB 1313 was introduced by a Democrat.

    Let’s consult Senator Frerichs own statement (May 17 “Update from the Statehouse”):
    “SB1313, sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston), institutes means testing for retirees, with higher income recipients contributing more towards their health care than those with more modest incomes. How much retirees would be required to contribute will be determined by the Director of Central Management Services (CMS). Premium rates would not be solely decided by the state, as unions would have the opportunity to negotiate premium rates with CMS. In addition, the General Assembly would gain oversight of decisions made by the Director, allowing legislators to respond to any action through the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).”

    Pay attention: the issue here is not Senator Frerichs, who indeed voted against the bill that will deprive us of earned healthcare contributions. The issue is that UIUC needs a faculty union to stand firm against outrageous senate bills such as 1313.

    If you agree that SB 1313 deprives UIUC instructors of medical benefits that they had already earned (and many of you have written to me to this effect), please write to Governor Pat Quinn. You can cut and paste my letter if you wish.

    Office of the Governor
    James R. Thompson Center
    100 W. Randolph, 16-100
    Chicago, IL 60601
    Phone: 312-814-2121
    To send an email, use the following link: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/pages/contactthegovernor.aspx

  7. Thanks, DeDe, for this amplification and clarification.

    I agree that people should write to Governor Quinn as well as Senator Frerichs. The point is is that the Illinois Democrats as a group need to feel the heat for the policies that they are acquiescing in. In my reading of the situation, Quinn is leading the Democrats in a go-along strategy with the Chicago anti-tax forces. He’s hoping it’ll get him elected, but it is already hurting a lot of Illinoisans, and may do much more damage. So while Sen. Frerichs has been good on many issues, he’s part of a caucus that’s been consistently caving in.

  8. Cosgrove, you are misinformed.

    It would be so great is the State of Illinois paid 100% or even a big fraction of faculty salaries. It doesn’t — it has consistently reduced its contribution to instruction over the last two decades, and it has refused to pay its ongoing bills. These are some of the reasons tuition is increasing so rapidly.

    Is the U of I becoming unaffordable because our salaries are skyrocketing? Far from it. Because of the incredible technological improvements to our classrooms? Don’t make us cry. Is it because our retirement benefits are huge — nope, for some of us, not even as good as if we had Social Security, which we don’t. True, most of us aren’t taking in boarders yet (as faculty did back in the day), but a lot of us are wondering if we will be able to retire at all.

    So please do brush up on the salary and pension issues. There is a lot of accurate information on this website, and even more links to good info elsewhere. For example, the Illinois Retirement Security Initiative is a good non-partisan source. See our list of links.

Comments are closed.