AFSCME Raises Back In Hands Of Arbitrator

July 03, 2012

The wait continues for 20,000 state workers hoping to be paid salary hikes they were supposed to get a year ago.

Rather than deciding if they should get the raises, a Cook County judge passed the decision to an arbitrator. It's a situation members of Illinois' largest public employees union, AFSCME, had never before found themselves in.

Although their contract with the state guaranteed union members' would see their wages go up by more than 5 percent last year, 20,000 workers instead saw their paychecks remain steady. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said state employees deserve to be fairly compensated.

"We've never encountered a unilateral pay freeze imposed by an employer like this before," Lindall said. "People are upset, they're angry, they want out of their way repeatedly to defer promised increases, to take furlough days ... and the thanks they've gotten is for the Governor to walk away from his side of the agreement and refuse to make them whole in the end."

Gov. Pat Quinn said he had to cancel the raises because the budget didn't include enough money to pay them.

The two sides have been battling it out in court.

Rather than settle the matter, a Cook County circuit court judge has sent it back to an independent arbitrator. The arbitrator will have to decide if, in fact, Illinois didn't have money to pay the employees.

Story source: AP