Pensions Become Less Certain For Government Workers

by Alan Greenblatt

December 11, 201310:04 AM
 Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn smiles during the signing of the pension overhaul legislation bill on Dec. 5 in Chicago. Looking on from left are: Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; Senate GOP leader Sen. Christine Radogno; Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville; Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs; House Speaker Michael Madigan and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn smiles during the signing of the pension overhaul legislation bill on Dec. 5 in Chicago. Looking on from left are: Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; Senate GOP leader Sen. Christine Radogno; Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville; Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs; House Speaker Michael Madigan and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. M. Spencer Green/AP

Federal workers have reason to be nervous. The budget agreement announced Tuesday — if it passes — would raise revenue by making employees contribute more toward their pensions.

It’s part of a trend. Governments at all levels have been cutting back on pension benefits in recent years, in an attempt to fix funding problems caused by the recession and years of fiscal mismanagement.

In many cases, states and localities have made benefits less generous. But that has, for the most part, only affected newly-hired workers.

Last week, Illinois changed its pension law, taking away cost-of-living increases for current workers and retirees. The law passed in tandem with a ruling by a federal bankruptcy judge that Detroit could cut benefits promised to already-retired city employees. Continue reading “Pensions Become Less Certain For Government Workers”

Some of the Media Releases During the Shutdown

Channel 2 CBS

Federal Workers Protest Possible Government Shutdown, September 30, 2013 2:43 PM http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/09/30/federal-workers-demonstrate-against-possible-government-shutdown/

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — About six dozen federal workers demonstrated in the Loop this afternoon against a possible government shutdown.

Local Impact Of Federal Government Shutdown, October 1, 2013 5:52 AM http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/10/01/local-impact-of-federal-government-shutdown/

Federal Employees Grateful To Work Again, But Leery Of Congress CBS Channel 2 Chicago October 17, 2013 http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/10/17/with-damage-done-federal-employees-grateful-to-work-again/

Channel 5 NBC

Officials: Chicago Area Won’t Feel Short-Term Shutdown By Emily Florez and Alexandria Fisher  Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013  |  Updated 8:52 AM CDT http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Officials-Chicago-Area-Wont-Feel-Short-Term-Shutdown-225947151.html

Furloughed Chicago Couple Feel Like “Political Pawns” 30-year EPA veterans forced to stay at home   Thursday, Oct 3, 2013  |  Updated 1:16 PM CDT http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Furloughed-Chicago-Couple-Feel-Like-Political-Pawns-226240691.html

National Public Radio

Preparing For Shutdown, Government Plans Furloughs by The Associated Press September 27, 2013 5:29 PM http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=226716045

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a third of federal workers would be told to stay home if the government shuts down, forcing the closure of national parks from California to Maine and all the Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.

Economic impact of a government shutdown NPR Afternoon Shift, September 30, 2013 https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/government-shutdown

With a government shutdown looming and possibly more than a one million federal workers about to be laid off, what’s the economic impact? Are you concerned about how this will affect the economy? John O’Grady is the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 704. Bob Johnson is the Director of Economic Analysis at Morningstar Inc. Photo credit: flickr / BTC world news

Economists Say Shutdown Will Hurt, But Hard To Add It Up by October 01, 2013 5:14 AM http://www.npr.org/2013/09/30/227889703/economists-say-shutdown-will-hurt-but-hard-to-add-it-up

During Shutdown, EPA Office Finds Old Soup In Office Fridge October 18, 2013 7:12 AM http://www.npr.org/2013/10/18/236797850/during-shutdown-epa-office-finds-old-soup-in-office-fridge

Even after sending home nearly all its staff during the shutdown, the Chicago office of the Environmental Protection Agency managed to detect a potentially toxic substance. A 16-year-old can of Campbell’s soup was discovered in a refrigerator there. Continue reading “Some of the Media Releases During the Shutdown”

Area government workers frustrated by shutdown

Plenty of ‘real work’ isn’t getting done, they say

October 06, 2013

Mike Mikulka, a senior environmental engineer for the EPA, does yard work at his home in Crystal Lake while the governement shutdown keeps him out of work.

Mike Mikulka, a senior environmental engineer for the EPA, does yard work at his home in Crystal Lake while the governement shutdown keeps him out of work. (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune)

Mike Mikulka was supposed to spend last week in Marinette, Wis., overseeing a $110 million project to clean up the Menomonee River, which is contaminated with arsenic.

An environmental engineer in the Chicago office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mikulka never made it to the site. He was sent home from work Tuesday, with a phone number to call to find out when he could return. The river cleanup, which is being handled by a private company, continued without him.

“Basically, it’s being done without (EPA) oversight,” Mikulka said. Continue reading “Area government workers frustrated by shutdown”

Chicago’s Federal Workers To Congress: Stop Political Games, Avoid Government Shutdown (VIDEO)

With the threat of a government shutdown getting closer by the hour, more than 60 federal civilian employees protested at Chicago’s Federal Plaza Monday, calling on Congress to “stop the lockout.” Progress Illinois attended the rally.

With the threat of a government shutdown getting closer by the hour, more than 60 federal civilian employees protested at Chicago’s Federal Plaza Monday afternoon, calling on Congress to “stop the lockout.”

A number of the union members, represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said they are among some 800,000 federal employees deemed “non-essential” who could be furloughed if the government shuts down Tuesday, the start of the 2014 fiscal year. Continue reading “Chicago’s Federal Workers To Congress: Stop Political Games, Avoid Government Shutdown (VIDEO)”

As shutdown looms, federal employees in Chicago protest

As shutdown looms, federal employees in Chicago protest

By David Roeder Staff Reporter September 30, 2013 4:57PM

Updated: October 1, 2013 2:24AM

Unionized federal workers bracing for a government shutdown angrily called on Congress to end its budgetary stalemate Monday, saying furloughs would hurt the economy and the delivery of important services.

Members of the American Federation of Government Employees staged a lunch-hour rally at Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn.

“We have dedicated public servants here. They’re basically being used as guinea pigs,” said Mike Mikulka, an environmental engineer and a vice president of the union. “Lawmakers had all summer to do their job and fund the government.” Continue reading “As shutdown looms, federal employees in Chicago protest”