State Employee Union Takes Pay Raise Case To Arbitrator

Updated 07/07/11 – 3:21 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A major labor union has asked an independent arbitrator to intervene in their dispute with Gov. Pat Quinn over his decision to cancel pay raises for some 30,000 state employees.

Quinn has said the Illinois General Assembly has not provided enough money to approve the $75 million in raises, so they cannot be provided. The move affects 14 state agencies.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports

AFSCME Council 31’s Deputy Director Roberta Lynch, however, said the governor’s plan to skip the raises is unlawful because it’s a contractual obligation. Despite the dispute, she said workers are still doing their jobs.

“The employees are understandably very frustrated and very demoralized,” Lynch said. “They’ve already sacrificed three times, they’ve deferred scheduled pay raises, and they’ve taken thousands of voluntary unpaid furlough days.”

Lynch said the governor vetoed nearly $300 million out of the budget late last month, so there’s no reason why employees shouldn’t get what they were promised.

“That’s as much as four times as much, or three times as much, as these raises would cost. So that’s a totally specious argument,” she said.

Lynch said state workers have been helping the state save money for years by deferring raises and taking voluntary furlough days – and the governor’s actions are a slap in the face to front line state workers.

The union is asking an independent arbitrator to enforce the contract and require the state to pay the raises negotiated in the contract.

“By refusing to pay state employees in accordance with the contract, Governor Quinn has violated an agreement that was fairly bargained and legally binding,” AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer said in a news release. “This is about integrity. What is the value of the governor’s word if he can break it? What is the value of a contract if it can be ignored? Bringing this matter before the arbitrator is our union’s first step in seeing that the contract is upheld and integrity is restored.”

The union said its request for arbitration does not preclude the possibility of filing a lawsuit later.

Union members also plan to picket throughout the state on Tuesday.

  • Vincent

    This is exactly the reason Scott Walker did what he did in Wisconsin. Its nice for the worker to receive raises when everyone else in general is. We’ve just been bumped with a 66% increase in state income taxes (which will probably never go down). The union workers should be happy they have jobs.

  • Robert

    Hey “State Worker” – be glad you have a job and shut up and do your state job to be best of your inability and incompetence.

    Have a nice day –

    “Private Sector” worker who has not seen a raise in 4 YEARS!!!!

  • Chivi

    If you can’t afford to give them raises, start laying them off. Give them an option. No raise or lay-offs? We can’t afford anymore losers!!!!

  • Jack

    Agree with Chivi – lay off the state workers – whether they are employed or not – we still can’t get anything done in this state

    Hey Illinois – try hiring people that can actually come to work and do something…

  • Garry

    The trouble with the union is that they are perfectly willing to allow the layoffs, and even many job eliminations as long as they can maintain the union contract and the ability to bargain. They know that eventually we are gong to need to replace some of those jobs, and they will be union jobs that they can bargain contracts with the democrats they elect. Our state has one of the worst pension problems in the country, and the unions are perfectly happy if the taxpayer pays more for their benefits. The very least the state can do is not negotiate a new contract and let them strike, they can accept the current situation, or quit.

  • mike

    very well said Garry,I am a union man,it is time for these pay raises to stop!!! this state has no money start laying these lazy people off.I could do the work that five of these people do and never ask for a pay raise!!!

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