By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — A group of state employees are seeking class-action status for a lawsuit they filed last week against the state of Illinois, alleging a new law that changes health care premiums for retirees violates the Illinois Constitution.
The lawsuit was filed Aug. 14 in Randolph County Circuit Court in southern Illinois. Menard Correctional Center is among the state facilities in that area of Illinois. The suit has 11 plaintiffs, but they are seeking class-action status that would include all state workers and retirees.
The suit challenges Senate Bill 1313, which had bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in June. The law requires retired state workers, university workers, lawmakers and judges to pay their own premiums for health insurance, and the director of the state’s Central Management Services is charged with establishing a schedule of premiums for retirees.
Previously, the state picked up the tab for the premiums for state and university employees who retired after 1998 and worked for the state for at least 20 years, as well as premiums for those who retired before 1998 and had eight years of service. The retirees had to foot their own deductibles and co-payments.
The suit says the law violates the Illinois Constitution and union contracts that are in place.
Several unions representing state workers are backing the lawsuit, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31; the Illinois Federation of Teachers; the Illinois Nurses Association; and Troopers Lodge 41 of the Fraternal Order of Police.
A similar suit is pending in Sangamon County, where retired appellate judge Gordon Maag has asked that the law be declared unconstitutional, as well. He, too, is asking that the lawsuit be given class-action designation.
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