Arbitrator: Quinn Must Give Pay Hikes to Workers
An arbitrator says Gov. Pat Quinn cannot cancel pay raises promised to state workers.
Arbitrator Edwin Benn on Tuesday ordered Quinn to start paying the 2 percent increase within 30 days with back pay. That's according to a copy of Benn's opinion provided by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"These are hard fiscal times for the State - no doubt. However, when the State did not pay the increase," Benn stated. "The State did not keep its promise."
While the ruling comes as a victory for AFSCME, the issue is far from settled. Roughly 30,000 state employees were affected by the administration's decision to cancel the raises.
Gov. Quinn has said he had no choice since the legislature just did not allocate enough money in the budget to pay employees in 14 state agencies.
AFSCME appealed that decision to the arbitrator who last year worked out a labor deal with the governor to issue 2 percent pay increases starting July first of this year.
The arbitrator noted he has power to interpret only the labor deal, and it is up to the courts to decide if the state has the authority under the law and constitution to cancel the raises because the legislature did not to fund them.
A spokesman for the Gov. Quinn said the administration will appeal the arbitrator's ruling.
"Funding these raises would mean that these agencies would not be able to make payroll for the entire year, disrupting core services for the people of Illinois, including children, the elderly and those with special needs," Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman wrote.
In the fall, AFSCME supported the governor over his opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). The union contributed more than $200,000 to Quinn's campaign.