A second lawsuit has been filed against Chicago, challenging the pension cuts passed by the state this year.
The pension changes raise contribution rates for employees and employers, and reduce COLAs. The changes apply to members of the Chicago Municipal Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund and Chicago Laborers’ Annuity & Benefit Fund.
Litigation seeking to derail changes to Chicago public worker pensions on constitutional grounds ensnared a second city retirement system on Monday.
Attorney Clint Krislov said he filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of members of the city’s pension fund for laborers. That lawsuit followed one filed Dec. 16 by a coalition of labor unions against Chicago’s municipal pension fund.
An Illinois law enacted earlier this year for the two funds requires higher worker contributions and limits cost-of-living increases for retirees. The lawsuits contend the law violates a prohibition in the Illinois Constitution against reducing public worker retirement benefits.
Cook County Associate Judge Rita Novak on Monday set a hearing on the unions’ motion for a temporary restraining order in the municipal fund case for Jan. 28 and 30.
Like Illinois, Chicago is arguing that its so-called police powers to provide essential services to residents trump constitutional protections for pensions.
Under the law that takes effect on Thursday, Chicago’s payments to its two funds increase over five years. Workers’ current contributions of 8.5 percent of earnings rise to 11 percent over five years. Instead of receiving an annual 3 percent cost-of-living increase, retirees will receive increases tied to inflation. The increases will be skipped in certain years.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has warned that the funds face insolvency within nine to 17 years unless changes are made. The funding shortfall is $8.4 billion for the municipal system and $1 billion for the laborers system. Police and fire pensions were not affected by the law.
The Chicago Municipal Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund and Chicago Laborers’ Annuity & Benefit Fund manage a combined $6.7 billion in assets.
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