The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 22, 2013

Unions plan 'emergency days' to lobby lawmakers

(Continued)

Patti Schuh, the spokeswoman for House Republican Leader Christine Radogno, described Thursday’s meeting as “continued productive discussions,” but cautioned that “these are difficult and complicated issues we don’t just gloss over.”

The unions adamantly oppose the unfinished deal. They say they weren’t consulted about the plan and that they think elements of it are unconstitutional. Illinois pension problem, deemed the nation’s worst, comes from years of lawmakers shorting or skipping required payments to its pension systems.

“With the leaders behind this scheme, it will take everything we’ve got to stop it,” the coalition tells union members in its email, which was provided to The Associated Press. “It’s also likely that leaders will unveil their scheme quickly and try to jam it through the House and Senate without enough time for open hearings or public review.”

A top aide to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan told Illinois lawmakers last week to be ready for a special session in Springfield beginning Dec. 3. Chief of Staff Tim Mapes also asked them to “keep other days that week available.” Alerts to other caucuses followed.

But Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Thursday that a special session wasn’t definite. “We just want to make people aware so they could ask to return and plan accordingly,” he said.

Charlie McBarron of the Illinois Education Association told the AP that lawmakers “will be hearing from us very strongly between now and when they convene and well after that. Our members are highly focused on this.”

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