Announcements, April 12, 2014


8 April 2014

AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member;

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old OrchardRoad, Skokie, Il. On Wednesday, April 16th. The meeting starts at 11 AM. Our guest speaker is Mr. David Amerson, AFSCME31 Retiree Coordinator. You won’t want to miss his talk.

Attention SERS & SURS members:
David Amerson is a member of a Labor/CMS Management committee that is charged with resolving problems you have receiving services withthe new health insurance. He needs witness testimony and specifics onwhere the health insurance is failing you. Call AFSCME31 at (312) 641-6060 and ask the operator to connect you to David. If you get a message,leave David your contact information. Assemble you evidence before you call, so that you have answers to questions David will probably ask.

Before I retired I was a Local 1891 officer and bargaining team member.Contracts, even in the best circumstances, can have errors that have to be found and corrected through follow-up meetings with both parties. CMS isdelaying the correcting process. Since AFSCME isn’t a service model union(the “good hands” type), we will have to find ways of applying member pressure to DHS and the insurance contractor so they abide by the contract.That is why your particular complaints are necessary to this process of making the insurance work for you.

Attention IMRF, City and County Retirees:
If you have been following Mayor Emmanuel’s efforts and Rep Conroy’sAttempt to end the 13th check, you know the city, county and State’s fiscalsituations are serious. The politicians would like to make us solve their deficit problem.

Blocking bad legislation won’t be enough to protect our pensions.Illinois needs a fair and permanent answer to the structural deficit problemit has had for more than forty years.  Springfield has been in gridlock for years. Any reform will have to come from grassroots pressure. AFSCME Council31 and especially AFSCME Retirees know how to create and apply grassroots pressure. No onegenerously gave government employees a union. No SERS, SURS, City, County, or IMRF found a COLA or 13th check in their Christmas stocking. AFSME members, like you, fought for and won them.

Since an injury to one is now an injury to all.Since we are all in this together.We will be calling you to ask you to join in an organized effort.This means calling, writing, and e-mailing legislators to stop this theft.Your calls were enough to get Rep Conroy to pull her amendment to HB3898.Join us, call these legislators. This fight won’t be quick or easy. But we have to win it if we are to ever havePension security.


Charles Hogan, President
Cellphone: (773) 679-6835

Below are:

A letter from Ann Widger, Director, AFSCME Retirees
50,000 Stronger Resolution
Prepared Remarks for Lee Saunders, AFSCME President
A Letter from Henry Bayer, Executive Director, and Roberta Lynch, Deputy      Director AFSCME 31

See also an announcement from member David Rolston on our Members’ Forum Page


Good Afternoon —

Thank you for joining the AFSCME Retiree Tele-Town Hall last Friday, March 28.  We had hundreds of retiree leaders from across the country join the call. To follow up, we would like to share with you two things. First, a copy of the resolution we mentioned on the call. We are asking that ALL Retiree Chapters and Subchapters pass this resolution at their next executive board meeting.  Second, we are attaching Pres. Saunders remarks from the call so you can share them with your members.  Both documents are attached and pasted below.

Please let us know when you executive board passes the resolution so we can keep track of all of our retiree affiliates who have taken that step. Please send us a copy via email and/or regular mail. Also, as always, please free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

In solidarity,

Ann Widger
Director, AFSCME Retirees
1625 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-429-1274 (w)




Retiree Chapter ___
50,000 Stronger Resolution

WHEREAS, Working people organizing through the labor movement built the middle class in America, and as a result, raised living standards and working conditions; and

WHEREAS, Union density is now at its lowest level since the Great Depression and this resulted in an economy where workers are more productive than ever before but experience stagnant wages, eroding benefits and increasing workloads; and

WHEREAS, Corporate interests understand that AFSCME is the last obstacle to their control of labor markets, so they exploit vast resources to fund attacks on pensions, health care benefits and collective bargaining; and

WHEREAS, Corporate-funded politicians of all political persuasions stripped union members of their rights and benefits in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, and states like New York, Illinois and Rhode Island also single out public service employees for attack; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court currently considers whether to ban collective bargaining for public sector workers; and

WHEREAS,The attacks we currently face are unprecedented in their scale, relentlessness and level of coordination; and

WHEREAS, Workers and retirees must mobilize like never before to force elected political leaders to respect collective bargaining, economic justice and worker empowerment; and

WHEREAS, AFSCME was built by women and men who stood firm, in solidarity, in the face of insurmountable odds and for the greater good, whether in Memphis, Philadelphia or Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, We must draw inspiration from those who passed us the torch and ensure the next generation faces a brighter future than the last; and

WHEREAS, AFSCME leaders from across the nation recently came together and assessed the Power to Win program, which convention delegates adopted in 2006 to strengthen the union to withstand political attacks, improve public services and raise living standards for public service workers and the citizens they serve, and set specific goals and urged councils to adopt volunteer member organizer (VMO) programs to grow the union; and

WHEREAS, These leaders concluded that Power to Win is still the strongest plan to rebuild the middle class, along with the following four pillars:

1. Strengthen our foundation with local unions.

2. Grow the union by organizing the unorganized.

3. Build political power.

4. Strengthen the union through coalitions and allies; and


WHEREAS, We will strengthen our locals through internal organizing campaigns at the local level between now and the 2014 AFSCME International Convention; and

WHEREAS, This program will only be successful with the deep commitment of union leaders, activists and retirees across the country; and

WHEREAS, Recruiting and training Retiree VMOs not only builds our local unions, it also enhances retiree leadership skills and builds the internal capacity of our retiree chapters and subchapter.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, Retirees, working hand-in-hand with working members, will help sign up 50,000 new AFSCME members from those who were previously fee payers or non-members, and we will encourage a higher level of activism through education and mobilization. We will  help train an army of 800 activists to educate our prospective members and their families about what’s at stake and what our Power to Win goals are.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Executive Board of Retiree Chapter __ pledges to work with the appropriate locals and state councils and lend its full support to engage non-members and encourage them to fully participate in the union as part of the 50,000 Stronger campaign.  We will provide assistance whenever possible to further the following campaign activities:

VMO Training. One-on-one communication is the most effective way to activate workers and retiree members. We will recruit and train retiree volunteer member organizers who will gain the skills to educate and mobilize and sign up more members.

Resolutions. Retiree Chapter Board members will urge the executive boards of our subchapters – where applicable – to adopt a similar resolution in support of the campaign and to actively recruit retiree VMOs.

Information Is Power. We will support efforts to establish the most effective data program in order to communicate with and mobilize retirees, and our chapters will transmit updated membership rosters to the International union on a regular basis.

Political Power. Our plans will include goals to grow our political strength through PEOPLE sign ups. We commit to sign up ___ Retiree MVPs by the 2014 International Convention.



Prepared Remarks for
AFSCME President
Retirees Tele-Town Hall
Friday, March 28, 2014

Good afternoon AFSCME Retirees, and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to join us.

If you’re on this call, then you already know what we’re up against. These last several years have been tough. But right now, we’re in the most difficult and hostile circumstances our union has ever experienced.

We’re seeing attacks at every level, and a degree of unprecedented coordination by people who are passing bad ideas back and forth with a vengeance. These ideas take many forms: Stealing the retirement security our members have worked hard for all their lives. Wiping out bargaining rights. Outsourcing public services to private companies that get rich on the public dime. Making dues deduction illegal so they can starve us of resources.

AFSCME’s working members are standing on the foundation you built, brick by brick. You more than any other members know we’ve never had an easy road. No boss ever gave us anything; we had to fight for every right or benefit we’ve ever gotten. You remember how things were before the union, and you know how life changed for the better after collective bargaining. You know the “good old days” weren’t so good if you didn’t have a voice on the job.

Well, the old days could be making a return. It’s not breaking news that we’re under attack. But a case before the U.S. Supreme Court has upped the ante and threatens to bulldoze everything you built.

You’ll hear more about it in just a minute. It’s called Harris v. Quinn, and it was brought by several home care workers against the state of Illinois. The case began as a specific challenge to the union’s right to bargain fair share fees. But it has the potential to affect the right of public sector workers to choose a union as their bargaining representative.

Our union has a choice. We can either watch what we’ve worked for erode, state by state, or we can get stronger and change the trajectory for working people across this nation. For AFSCME, it’s really not even a choice.

In January, Secretary-Treasurer Reyes and I met with affiliate leaders to come up with a plan to fight back. We’re calling this plan the Four Pillars. In brief, here’s what it is:

  •       Number 1: Growing the union;
  •       Number 2: Building political power;
  •       Number 3: Strengthening locals through internal organizing and principally through our 50,000 Stronger campaign; and
  •       Number 4: Building partnerships with allies like the Alliance for Retired Americans that can add to AFSCME’s strength.

We’ll get into greater detail as this call continues. But I’d like to say a few words about our 50,000 Stronger campaign, because I know you can have a major impact on it.

We’ve got an ambitious plan to train 800 volunteer member organizers. These VMOs will help us organize 50,000 members from the ranks of their co-workers who are not union members. You will be some of our best VMOs because you understand the value of one-on-one, old-school conversations. Nothing is more effective than looking someone in the eye and explaining what solidarity is all about. And nobody can do that better than you can. You know how to build a union from the ground up.

With your commitment and experience, I know this program will succeed. To that end, we are asking you to take a resolution in support of the Four Pillars back to your chapters and subchapters. You’ll hear more about that later.

As I turn the program over to other speakers, I want to thank you again for taking the time to be part of this call. Our challenges are tough, but with the 250,000 retirees of AFSCME on the frontlines of this fight, as you’ve been for every fight, our union is tougher.



TO:  Local Government Local Union Presidents
Retiree Subchapter Presidents

FR:  Henry Bayer, Executive Director
Roberta Lynch, Deputy Director

RE:  Good News and Very Good News

Let’s start with the very good news.  We just got word that Rep. Deb Conroy, the chief sponsor of HB 3898, has filed a motion to table this bill.  As you know, this legislation would have abolished the IMRF “thirteenth check” reducing the retirement income of all current and future participants in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).

The legislation was sparked by a phony “scandal” manufactured by the right-wing Illinois Policy Institute, a corporate-backed anti-government group that seeks to abolish all public employee pension plans.  The IPI attacked the “thirteen check” as a “bonus” claiming it was ‘like retirees winning the lottery every year’.

Spurred by the press coverage these claims got, Rep. Conroy introduced HB 3898 to completely eliminate the 13th check.  Last week it passed out of committee on a bipartisan 10-0 vote.  But then AFSCME and our labor partners in the We Are One Illinois coalition immediately went into high gear.  Thanks to you and many of your members, we generated hundreds of phone calls directly to Rep. Conroy—as well as to legislators across the state.  Active and retired IMRF participants explained that the “13th check” provides important inflation protection comparable to that in other pension systems.

It’s rare that we can stop a bill right in its tracks, but that’s what we have done in this case.  Hopefully the outpouring of opposition was strong enough that no other legislator will attempt to move a similar bill.

And here’s the good news:  Governor Quinn’s FY 15 state budget plan does not make any cuts to funding for local governments.  That means that local governments will continue to receive their full share from the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF)—as well as grants for health care and other vital services.  And it means that school districts may actually see an increase in educational funding.

However, there’s still a big question mark about whether this budget can pass the General Assembly because it is contingent on legislators agreeing to extend the income tax increase that is set to expire on January 1.  AFSCME led a massive grassroots lobbying effort to pass the income tax increase back in 2009 and we argued strongly at the time that it should be permanent.  We continue to hold that position—and strongly support the plan to make it permanent now.  At the same time, we want to see a fairer tax structure in Illinois that can help to raise additional revenues.  That’s why we’re continuing to push legislators to vote to place the Fair Tax constitutional amendment, backed by A Better Illinois, on the ballot in the November election.

Be sure you let your legislators know that you support extending the income tax and passage of the Fair Tax.



Posting: March 28, 2014


Report on monthly meeting 3/19/14:

Beatrice Lumpkin, author of Joy in the Struggle: My Life and Love, was a guest at the March meeting of Subchapter 161. She talked about the history of the labor union movement and its importance. Women played a crucially important role, she said. It’s time to pass the message on to a new generation.

2014-03-19 12.55.45 Bea Lumpkin with subchapter members Charlie Hogan, Mary Bennett, and Martin Rowe.

More on Ms. Lumpkin can be viewed by clicking here. Copies of her book were available for purchase at the meeting.  More about her book can be found by clicking here.

As part of our continuing campaign to interest more people in the activities of the subchapter, members were encouraged to write brief comments on “What the Union Did for Me” for posting on our blogsite.  These can be given to Charlie Hogan or John Metz or emailed to

Charlie Hogan advises all members to read the following letter from Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and then call your State Senator and Representative to oppose this amendment:

Legislation introduced to eliminate “13th payment”

On March 14, legislation was introduced to eliminate the IMRF supplemental benefit payment, also known as the 13th payment.

House Amendment #1 to House Bill 3898 would terminate the 13th payment for all present and future annuitants effective January 1, 2015. The legislation is sponsored by State Rep. Deborah Conroy (D-Villa Park)

IMRF staff believes that the Illinois Constitution protects the benefits of current and retired IMRF members, and that this protection extends to the 13th payment.

IMRF staff will analyze the proposal in the coming days and share information with the IMRF Board of Trustees. As with all legislation that involves IMRF, the Board of Trustees will take a position whether to support, oppose, or remain neutral on the legislation.

In order to become law, HB 3898 would need to be passed out of committees in the House and Senate, and be approved by a majority of legislators in both the House and the Senate before being sent to the Governor for his signature.

IMRF will keep you informed throughout the process.

Media reports have characterized the 13th payment as a “bonus.” This is inaccurate. It is a form of deferred compensation intended to help offset inflation. It was granted to retirees after significant negotiation by employee and employer groups, and approved by the Illinois General Assembly in 1992.

The Illinois Pension Code requires each IMRF employer to contribute .62% (62 hundredths of 1%) of its annual IMRF payroll to support the 13th payment. During 2013, the average IMRF employer contributed $14,148 to fund the benefit.

The 13th payment is mailed to eligible retired members every July. During 2013, the average 13th payment to an IMRF retiree was $343.

At the end of 2013, IMRF had $33 billion in assets and was 96% funded on a market basis.

To view the full text of the letter and HB 3898, click here.


Posting: March 12, 2014

11 March 2014

AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member;

We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, Il. On Wednesday, March 19th.The meeting starts at 11 AM.

Our guest speaker is Ms. Bea Lumpkin, an author and union activist. You won’t want to miss her talk. Click here to RSVP when you finish reading this.

This is primary election time and early voting has started. Please read about Bruce Rauner at our blogsite. Tell you friends, family and neighbors about his past financial dealings. Get a Republican ballot. Vote for Dillard. At this time, I’m asking you to do political damage control.

I also want you to ask you to help John Metz staff his blog operation with people who enjoy reading, researching, and writing. Join his group or act as scouts who suggest people we should invite to join. Click here if you are interested in working on our eCommunications Committee.

As members, we want this blogsite to be a tool and a place we can go to find information that affects us. Information we might not have the time to research on our own . With the information we find and share, we help build a consensus about what we must do to repeal last December’s law. That is why staffing and building this site is everyone’s business.

Last January, I closed with this message:

“If politics is the art of the possible, then grassroots community action is required to create a basis for new political possibilities. We will have to build the required power to get reform in Illinois. No one will give it to us. We’ll have to fight for it, then use it . Doing nothing isn’t an option. The legislature will cut our pensions, benefits, and needed services because of money. Illinois has a debt problem because the legislators never dealt with the structural revenue problem. Our job is solving that problem.”

Let’s get with it.


Charles Hogan

Subject:  The REAL Bruce Rauner
From:     AFSCME Council 31 (AFSCME31crafscme31 org)
Date:      Monday, February 17, 2014 12:58 PM

Who is the REAL Bruce Rauner? The top 10 things you should know

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner bills himself as a -breath of fresh air- in the race for governor, but when you do your homework, you’ll find his words and actions are polluted. Take a look at the top 10 things you need to know about the REAL Bruce Rauner before casting your ballot. Spoiler alert: he’s a hypocrite.

1.      Just like Governor Scott Walker, Rauner wants to dismantle unions. He wrote about his hostility toward unions in the Chicago Tribune, claiming they are “harmful.” He doesn’t believe public employees should be allowed to be union members, saying “by their very nature” public employee unions represent a “fundamental conflict of interest with the people of Illinois.”

2.      Rauner wants to eliminate public pension benefits, forcing all public employees into 401(k) s, but he readily reaped huge profits investing OUR pension benefits. Numerous media reports indicate that Rauner made millions in investment fees by managing pension funds for the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and the State Employees Retirement System (SERS), as co­founder and former chairman of Chicago’s second largest private equity fund (GTCR).

3.      Rauner says he’d “shake up” Springfield, but he’s tied to those who shook it down, like a corrupt Blagojevich crony now in prison. Rauner’s firm owned part of CompBenefits, a company that paid $1 million to convicted felon Stuart Levine to get city and state contracts by “whatever means necessary, including payoffs.” Levine admitted to paying a bribe to get a contract for the company, and while on the payroll, voted to award Rauner’s firm a $50 million contract from the Illinois teachers’ pension fund in his role as a board member.

4.      Rauner was earning $25,000 an HOUR but called for cutting the Illinois minimum wage by $1/hour. As soon as the media exposed this comment, the billionaire scrambled to explain his indefensible position, but more video had already surfaced of him saying he was “adamantly, adamantly” opposed to an increase for the lowest income workers.

5.    Rauner brags about his “average Joe” Carhartt jacket and $18 watch, but he’s no regular guy underneath the costume. The billionaire owns NINE multi-million dollar homes, including ranches out West, a mansion in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, two upscale properties in Chicago, and a penthouse in New York City among others.

6.    Rauner pulled strings and clouted his daughter into an elite (union) public school in Chicago after her application was rejected. He personally called then-Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan to make sure that she was offered one of only 300 spots at Walter Payton College Prep, leapfrogging over 7,000 city applicants. Then, Rauner donated $250,000 to Payton Prep a year later. Rauner lives in wealthy suburban Winnetka, not Chicago

7.    Rauner invested in nursing homes that dramatically cut costs for profit, resulting in wrongful death and patient-neglect lawsuits that at one point totaled more than $2.3 billion in damages. After Rauners firm GTCR bought Trans Healthcare Inc., the now-bankrupt nursing home chain was sued at least a half dozen times by patients and their families. Attorneys have alleged that Rauners firm and other investors failed to provide proper funding for care, then shielded their assets to avoid paying damages.

8.    Rauner sharply criticizes “pay-to-play” politics, but received millions in state business after donating $300,000 to former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell during his campaign. The donation was a clear conflict of interest; Rauners firm was managing state pension funds at the time. After Rendell was elected, the state doubled its stake in GTCR funds, resulting in an additional $4 million profit for Rauner. And he has the nerve to accuse union members of bribery?

9.    Rauner loves to bash Democrats, but fails to mention that he’s a big supporter and personal friend of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. While working with Rauner in the late ’90s, Emanuel made $18 million, which helped spur his run for elective office.

10.   Rauner supports “right-to-work” laws that would rob you of your rights to form strong, viable unions. These laws also drive down wages, benefits, and the overall standard of living for anyone outside of Rauners 1%, who stand to get richer as the income inequality gap widens.

Billionaire Bruce Rauner has already contributed more than $2 million of his own money to his campaign, with a number of wealthy friends chipping in six-figure contributions and more to come. He is trying to determine the outcome of this election the only way he knows how: by buying it. Rauner is saturating the airwaves with deceptive commercials, hoping you won’t read or share these facts. His money won’t talk if we speak truth to power. Spread the word today.—sbc&..rand=2c6qk3e… 2/19/2014


From: “Dave Amerson” <>
Sent: Sunday, March 9, 2014 2:26:08 PM
Subject: AFSCME and the Primary Elections

Good afternoon,

My name is David Amerson and I am the Retiree Coordinator for AFSCME Council 31.

As all of you are likely aware, the past year has been an especially hard time to be a state retiree. Politicians have come after your dental, your medical insurance, your pension, and they show no signs of stopping there.

The primary election is March 18th, and this is our best opportunity to send a message to anti-retiree politicians that AFSCME Retirees is a force to be reckoned with. In the governor’s race for the GOP, the AFSCME PEOPLE committee has endorsed Kirk Dillard. Kirk voted NO on the pension bill in December that would diminish your COLA if it is allowed to go into effect. But even more importantly, he is the Republican with the best shot of beating Bruce Rauner. As many of you know, Bruce Rauner has dedicated his campaign to making villains out of retirees and unions, and has even said that the December pension-theft bill “did not go far enough” in stealing your retirement benefits.

Bruce Rauner presents a very real threat to your retirement security and the union’s ability to defend your benefits.

Well, now it’s our turn to fight back. But for us to be successful, we need to get the word out to our fellow retirees.

Next week there will be a phone-banking opportunity for retirees looking to get involved in the primary election. We will be calling our fellow retirees to get the word out about Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner, as well as other Chicago-area candidates that we are supporting.

The phone-banks will be at the Chicago AFSCME Headquarters 205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2100 at the following time:

Wednesday, March 12th–  12pm-3pm
Lunch will be provided.

Some of us may have never pulled a Republican ballot in the primary before, some of us may be life-long Republicans. For this particular election though, to defeat the very real threat that Rauner poses to your retirement security I urge you to not only pull a Republican ballot and vote Dillard, but also to help get the word out to our fellow retirees on the phone this week. I hope to see you then.

David Amerson

AFSCME Council 31, Retiree Program Coordinator
615 South 2nd
Springfield, IL 62705-2328
W (217) 757-3314
F   (217) 753-2005


Click here to see a related comment by David Rolston in our Member’s Forum.


From: “Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans” <>
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 3:04:23 PM
Subject: Fair Tax Lobby Day at State Capitol

Dear Illinois Alliance member,

Join us for a fair tax lobby day on Thursday, March 27th to call on our legislators to support a fair tax – with higher rates for higher incomes, and lower rates for lower incomes. Please see below and the attached flier for the details.

It’s time to get our priorities straight and give seniors and working families a fair shake. We need a more accountable government that protects health care, public safety, education and services for seniors. We hope you will join us for this important lobby day.

Fair Tax Lobby Day at State Capitol


6:30 AM – First Stop
Walgreens @ 55th & Wentworth

6:55 AM – Second Stop
Jewel Osco @ 87th & Dan Ryan

7:15 AM – Third Stop
Kmart @ 176th & Halsted


7:00 AM
Service Employees International Union @ 2229 S Halsted

11:00am: Training & Lunch at State House Inn

11:45am: Go to State Capitol Rotunda

12:00pm: Rally at State Capitol Rotunda

12:30pm: Legislative Visits

2:00pm: Debrief at State House Inn

2:30pm: Buses Depart

- Breakfast, snacks and box lunches will be provided

- Transportation from State House Inn to the Capitol will be provided for anyone that needs it

- There will be sufficient seating in the rotunda for those that need it

Hannah Lloyd, A Better Illinois
(434) 238-2194 or

In Solidarity,

Emily Stuart
Executive Director
Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans
27 East Monroe Street | Suite 1100 | Chicago, IL 60603
Office: 312-427-2114 ext. 207 | Fax: 312-379-0313

Subchapter 161 Lobbying in Springfield


AFSCME lobbying


On Wednesday, February 19, members of Subchapter 161joined hundreds of others from across the State to conduct a one day lobbying blitz.  The goal was to persuade legislators to join us in seeking constructive solutions to state and local revenue problems. Karen Lewis (President Chicago Teachers Union), Henry Bayer (Executive Director, AFSCME Council 31), Christine Boardman (President SEIU Local 73) and others addressed the issue of pension theft. (Picture and text courtesy of Walt Esler)

Posting, January 11, 2014

9 January 2014

AFSCME Sub-chapter 161

Dear member:


We will meet again at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant at 5203 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, Il. On Wednesday, January 15th.The meeting starts at 11 AM. Our speaker is Mr. Richard Whitney. A veteran of Illinois politics, Mr. Whitney will give us his perspective on Illinois’ problems and some possible solutions.


Our business for this meeting requires a discussion and vote by members on time sensitive items.

A) Secretary-Treasurer vacancy

B) Voting funds to buy a portable microphone

C) Voting on annual dues for the Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans

D) Selecting a PEOPLE chairperson to attend January and February meetings This is where the President and Chairperson join with other Council 31 retirees and working members to interview and vote on candidates we will be asked to support in November.


We are all angry at the legislature’s passage of a bad pension bill. This wasn’t a victory for the politicians or the citizens of Illinois. Those of you who called and lobbied have my deepest thanks. Three years ago, this Sub-Chapter was a roster of names. Today, you have made us an active lobbying group. If politics is the art of the possible, then grassroots community action is required to create a basis for new political possibilities. We will have to build the required power to get reform in Illinois. No one will give it to us. We’ll have to fight for it, then use it. Doing nothing isn’t an option. The legislature will cut our pensions, benefits, and needed services because of money. Illinois has a debt problem because the legislators never dealt with the structural revenue problem. Our job is solving that problem.



Charles Hogan, President




From: “A Better Illinois” <>

Sent: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 2:34:30 PM

Subject: We’re headed your way


  Dear Supporter:—

As you know, the campaign we’ve been building together since last summer has made Fair Tax legislation – with lower tax rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes – a top agenda item in Springfield for the 2014 legislative session. The momentum is on our side!

But if we’re to achieve our goal of getting Fair Tax legislation on the November 2014 ballot – so the voters of Illinois can decide for themselves – now is when the rubber meets the road.

The legislature is set to reconvene in just a few short weeks and starting a week from today, we’ll be holding a series of 2014 Campaign Kickoff events all throughout the state.

It’s now or never to finish the job and reach the goal of the grassroots campaign we’ve been building all year – to ensure politicians in Springfield pass Fair Tax legislation by May 4th of this year so Illinois voters can decide on the upcoming November ballot. If we fail, the current system—which 92% of Illinois voters say is broken and needs to be fixed—will remain in place.

Please click here to see a schedule of 2014 Campaign Kickoff events and pass along this information to your friends, family, and social networks. 

Out-of-state billionaires led by the Koch brothers are already spending tens of thousands of dollars on a campaign to distort a Fair Tax to Illinois voters, all to help big corporations and the rich get special treatment and avoid paying their fair share. But it’s the voters of Illinois—77% of whom support a Fair Tax—who should make the decision on the upcoming November ballot.

The strength and momentum of this grassroots campaign has been truly amazing. Thanks again for all that you’ve done and continue to do. Together, we can defeat these powerful special interests and create A Better Illinois.


Kristen Crowell

Campaign Director

A Better Illinois


Please click here to see a schedule of 2014 Campaign Kickoff events and pass along this information to your friends, family, and social networks. 


From: “A Better Illinois” <>

Sent: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 4:32:54 PM

Subject: This is it


  Dear Supporter,

This is exactly what we’ve been building for. Thanks to your help, we’ve made Fair Tax legislation – with lower tax rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes – a top agenda item in Springfield for the 2014 legislative session!

Since we began A Better Illinois last summer, the grassroots and community support from every corner of the state has been tremendous:

  • Commitments from 64 legislative co-sponsors of Fair Tax legislation

But now we face our toughest test yet. There’s a reason Springfield hasn’t enacted long-term, structural reform to fix a budgeting process 92% of Illinoisans believe is broken: powerful special interests that help big corporations and the rich get special treatment to avoid paying their fair share.

Let me give you a glimpse of what we’re up against here. A recent news report revealed leaked secret documents showing out-of-state billionaires (led by the Koch brothers) spending tens of thousands of dollars on – in their own words – the “back drop for a campaign” to spin a Fair Tax to the people of Illinois as “politically toxic.”

It’s the voters of Illinois who should decide what’s best for us—and 77% of Illinois residents support a Fair Tax, with lower tax rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes. That’s right, more than 3 out of 4 Illinois voters(!), and yet big corporations and out-of-state billionaires think they can call the shots so that they and their rich friends can bleed the taxpayers.

For Illinois voters to decide on the upcoming November ballot, we must get politicians in Springfield to pass Fair Tax legislation by May 4th of this year. In the coming weeks, we will be holding events all across Illinois in key legislative districts. And we will continue to call on grassroots supporters like you to overcome the big money and powerful interests defending a broken status quo.

Thanks again for all that you’ve done and continue to do in support of this historic campaign to build A Better Illinois.


Kristen Crowell

Campaign Director

A Better Illinois


P.S. Please take a moment to contact your legislators in Springfield and tell them to support a Fair Tax with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes. Hearing from you directly makes a huge difference!

AFSCME Retirees, Council 31, Subchapter 161

Intrachapter Communications Committee
John Metz, Chairman

Posting December 31, 2013

Message from Mary Bennett, Phone Committee Chair:

I want to take the opportunity to thank Charles Hogan, Walt and Jenny Esler and David Rolston who made phone calls to fellow members encouraging them to contact legislators..  Because of the combined efforts of everyone on the committee, we were able to generate approximately 400 direct contacts to members.  Although we lost  the battle, the war is not over.  This is a marathon not a sprint.  The closeness of the final vote demonstrates that our phone calls had a positive impact.  We are always looking for volunteers to join our phone committee.  You can contact Mary Bennett, Chair of the Telephone Committee at 773-583-3651 or e-mail me at or Charles Hogan at (773) 679-9255 or e-mail

Message from member Walter Esler:

Adam Andrzejewski, writing at Huff Post examines the little known H1b Visa program, which is used to outsource US jobs. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has been pushing the program, according to Andrzejewski. Under the program, jobs which would normally be filled by Illinois residents are instead filled by Indian nationals, called H1b visa holders. View the article by clicking here.

The H1b visa holders earn no pension credit and are not eligible to join a union apply for citizenship. Workers hired under the program costs about 30% more than union members, even when the costs of pensions and other benefits are factored in.

Also, the first suits in defense of our pensions have been filed.  For further information, click here.

January 15 meeting:

Rich Whitney is scheduled to be the speaker for our next meeting at Ruby Tuesdays (5203 Old Orchard Rd, Skokie, 11 o’clock, Wednesday, January 15).  Mr. Whitney’s thoughts about the Illinois “pension crisis” can be found by clicking here.

Tell Your Legislator

One member’s letter to his state senator (Mr. Esler invites other members to use his letter as a model for their own):

Dear Senator Martinez,

I can’t think of any reason why retirees should agree to give up any part of their pension. Very few can afford the financial sacrifice involved. Most of us would never have been willing to work for you had we thought for an instant that you never intended to actually pay what you had promised us. We couldn’t have afforded to. We were working to support our families and had been promised a secure retirement when we were too old to work any more.

Those of us who grew up Catholic will remember that oppression of widows and injustice to wage earners are among the very worst of the sins. Justice is 100% on our side. Very few issues in life are as clear cut as this one. You’re on the wrong side of this important moral issue. Here is a link to the Catholic Catechism:

Everyone noticed that you were distributing our pension money to ADM and other corporations within minutes of passing SB1. Perhaps you don’t have a sense of right and wrong.

Have you at least a sense of shame? You’re attacking one of the State’s most vulnerable populations in order to enrich corrupt corporations like ADM.

The State has enormous financial resources. Most corporations (70%) pay $0 in taxes. It’s time to make them pay their share in state and local taxes. That would wipe out the State’s deficits in a matter of weeks.

The numbers coming out of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability tell us the State’s got plenty in resources.

I think you should pay us what you owe us.

Best Regards,

Walter Esler