*** UPDATE *** From Kelly Kraft at the governor’s office…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
Hi Rich— To the below— really important here—-
We have already won the major issue in this case: whether we are obligated to pay raises if they are not appropriated. Judge Billik’s answer in July was “no.” That means, unless Billik is reversed by a higher court we will not be obligated to pay some of the dollars associated with the raises.
All that remains is for the Judge to determine —-are we going to have to pay everything that we DO have remaining in approps that could go to raises or something less.
The judge has not preliminarily ruled for the union. In fact, on the major issue at dispute-whether subject to approp applies-the state has already won. Even on the side issue of —what we owe— from what approp we actually have, the judge hasn’t preliminarily ruled either. It was just an order from the judge to preserve the approps that could possibly be used for pay raises by vouchering them-and that had to be done today.
* An arbitrator ruled earlier this year that the state had to pay employee pay raises that Gov. Quinn had refused to pay because there was no specific appropriations authority for the cash. Gov. Quinn appealed the ruling to the courts, which kicked the case back to the arbitrator, who kicked it back to the judge. The judge prelminarily ruled for the union yesterday…
The judge in a dispute over Illinois workers’ pay raises is telling Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration to hand over unspent money from the state budget in case he rules in favor of the employees.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Richard Billik Jr. ordered a voucher for $18 million in unspent payroll money sent to the state comptroller. Millions of dollars more might also be involved.
The Thursday decree came a day before the state’s authority to earmark spending from the last budget expires. Quinn hasn’t paid about $60 million in raises required by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ contract from 2011 because he says the Legislature didn’t appropriate it.
* Ordering that vouchers be submitted to Comptroller Topinka is not the same as forcing the state to actually pay the raises. Not yet, anyway…
Quinn spokeswoman Kelly Kraft reiterated that no money is being paid yet.
“Vouchers will not be finalized or paid out until, at the very least, there is a final order from the trial court as to what payments … can be paid and are owed by the state,” Kraft said. […]
Billik is continuing to do fact-finding to determine if, in fact, money wasn’t available to honor the raises. He has previously ruled that the Quinn is not obligated to spend money that wasn’t appropriated by the General Assembly.
* The lapse period expires today, so the judge’s order simply meant that vouchers had to be submitted before the deadline. AFSCME’s Henry Bayer explains…
“The Quinn administration is doing everything possible to avoid honoring its contract with frontline state employees,” said AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer. “If the end of August passed without this order, the state would claim it ran out the clock and couldn’t be held accountable.”
* AFSCME ain’t happy, to say the least. This is from a recent e-mail newsletter to its members about the contract negotiations. Highlighting is in the original…
Certainly a big cause of the anger union members expressed at the State Fair rally was Governor Quinn’s efforts to undermine collective bargaining rights and economic security for state employees. After more than eight months at the bargaining table, negotiations for a new state contract are at a virtual standstill as the Quinn Administration continues to press for massive concessions that would take thousands of dollars out of union members’ pockets.
The current contract expired on June 30, but the parties agreed to extend it pending the involvement of an independent mediator in the bargaining sessions. The mediator has now been selected by mutual agreement and will attend the next round of bargaining which is scheduled for September 10-12.
But few on the Union Bargaining Committee hold out much hope for what the mediator can accomplish given Management’s determination to extract some $3 billion from state employees in the form of wage cuts and health care cost increases. While the Committee has been able to beat back many of Management’s proposals to drastically weaken job rights, the Employer has refused to budge on its demand for massive economic concessions.
Over the past month, Council 31 staff and Bargaining Committee members have held more than 200 meetings at worksites across the state to inform employees directly of just what’s at stake in these negotiations—and what it will take to gain a fair contract.
The meetings were eye-opening for many employees who didn’t realize just how steep the cuts would be. In meeting after meeting, union members spoke up and pledged to do whatever it takes to protect their economic security, retain affordable health care, and preserve their union rights.
AFSCME members in state government have never faced an Administration so totally indifferent to its responsibility to provide vital services to Illinois citizens—or so unremittingly hostile to the employees who provide those services. It’s going to be a long, tough fight to preserve those services and to protect the gains we’ve made over the years.
In the coming weeks, your local leaders will be reaching out to you to affirm your commitment to making that fight. Be sure you’re there on the frontlines to carry it on.
That last graf is ominous. Strike?
* In the same newsletter, AFSCME talks about the large crowd booing Gov. Quinn at the Illinois State Fair…
Quinn has one of the worst records in the country—coming up right behind Wisconsin governor Scott Walker—when it comes to attacking working families. He is trying to lay off more than 4000 state workers, destroying jobs in communities across Illinois. He’s withholding negotiated pay raises, leading the charge to cut pensions, and pushing for huge contract concessions
So it’s no wonder that when Quinn finally made his appearance at a rally on the fairgrounds, hundreds of angry union members were waiting to greet him with signs, boos and chants. Their righteous chorus quickly drowned out anything the governor had to say and sent him scurrying off to leap into his waiting limo.