Here is the text of a letter sent to at least some University of Illinois email accounts on Tuesday evening from Cary Nelson, an emeritus professor at the UI and the president of the American Association of University Professors:
All current and future participants in the TRS, SERS, and SURS retirement systems need to call their legislators today to urge them to vote against SB 1673, HA 3 and any emerging legislation that threatens employee health care insurance and cost of living increases. You should call both your senator and your representative.
SB 1673 will force both current retirees and all Tier 1 employees still working to make a brutal choice--give up your state health care benefits or give up virtually ALL future cost of living increases. Under the second option, many public employees would eventually give up tens of thousands of dollars of annual income in exchange for their health benefits, vastly more than the state would be paying for them. This legislation is both brutal and unfair.Although the details are not clear, all health benefits may be affected--basic health, dental, eye care, prescription benefits. If you want to keep your health care, your COLA will be reduced by as much as 80%. Your pension will thus not keep pace with inflation.This is not cost sharing. It is simple extortion. Be courteous when calling your representatives, but make it clear that you view the damage this legislation will do to the state's employees as extremely serious.Illinois' public employee unions are joining forces to defeat this disastrous legislation, but time is very short. If the bills pass, you should call the governor's office and urge him not to sign them.Cary Nelson