Judge halts union raises temporarily
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday won a temporary halt to paying state employee raises that were due earlier this month and that he says can't be covered under a trimmed down state budget.
Quinn had appealed an arbitrator's ruling earlier this week that said the state contract requires paying raises to members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The arbitrator's ruling decreed the governor should start paying the increase immediately and hand out back pay within 30 days.
Cook County Circuit Judge Richard Billik on Friday granted Quinn's request to hold off paying the 2 percent raise. Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The union that represents nearly 30,000 affected state workers said the court-granted stay has no practical effect because Quinn already had said he wouldn't abide by the arbitrator's ruling. The arbitrator has no enforcement power and AFSCME would have had to go to court to get the wages paid, spokesman Anders Lindall said.
The Democrat announced July 1 he wouldn't pay the 2 percent raises -- worth about $75 million -- owed to state workers in 14 government agencies. He says lawmakers didn't give him enough money to cover pay increases.
The union already has delayed another 2 percent raise to help in the state's budget crisis.
Lindall said rather than push for enforcement of the arbitrator's ruling, AFSCME will press on with a federal lawsuit the union has filed in Springfield. The lawsuit claims Quinn violated constitutional protections against contract impairment, providing for equal protection of the law, and breach of contract.