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*** UPDATED x1 *** Arbitrator sides with union, for now, while AFSCME issues blistering attack on Quinn

Friday, Aug 31, 2012

*** UPDATE *** From Kelly Kraft at the governor’s office…

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.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* 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.

Oof.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


43 Comments
  1. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    We should issue Illinois script to pay the employees. The script would be redeemable for highway tolls and Lotto tickets.

    When can we have a discussion about either decertifying all state employee unions, going to one-year contracting (to allow for changing economic conditions) or some other non-traditional ideas to reduce the cost of the state budget. We can start with eliminating legislative pensions…


  2. - Cassiopeia - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    I am afraid that Quinn would welcome a strike as a part of his yet to be announced grass-roots strategy to engage the public on pension reform.

    Quinn cares nothing about the pain he causes and he never has.


  3. - Palos Park Bob - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    Funny thing. The unions made a Herculean effort in 2010 to get Quinn elected so that he could betray the people of Illinois to serve public union interests, and he wound up betraying them instead!

    Irony or simple justice?


  4. - Truthteller - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    I think Harry Truman would say that Quinn thinks AFSCME is giving him hell when all it’s doing is telling the truth about him.


  5. - STP - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    Cincinnatus - I came to work for the state at the state’s request - because I cared about what I did - I took a pay cut to do so - I cannot get into the Union - because of what I have added to my jobs because of mergers and reductions - 14 years total with no raise is not right - the state employees did paid their pension costs - I would ADVISE NO ONE TO COME TO WORK HERE -


  6. - geronimo - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    Quinn………the gleeful destroyer of lives. Who will look to him as a hero? Never mind, I think I know the answer to that.


  7. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    AFSCME is in a tough situation, I don’t think they can get public sympathy if they strike, probably the opposite. They cannot allow the demands from management take place because their members would be furious.

    I believe Quinn was wrong by not honoring the raises he negotiated prior to the election, a contract is a contract. My thinking is if the Judge does not rule he must honor the raises, then the whole contract negotions is worthless.


  8. - Slick Willy - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    Nobody wins with a strike. Hopefully, both AFSCME and Quinn will realize this. Maybe they both will be reasonable for a change and reach a compromise.


  9. - OneMan - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    Almost think he wants a strike, shows him being tough to the union.

    I would just suggest that AFSCME strike across the entire state, if they ignore Cook County Quinn will never notice anything is going on…


  10. - wordslinger - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    Where’s AFSCME going to go? The other guys say Quinn is in the tank for them, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


  11. - geronimo - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 11:53 am:

    Nobody wins in a strike, nobody wins in layoff situations (there are only dumped on survivors in the workplace as they take on 3 jobs in 1), nobody wins with more folks uninsured, on unemployment….potentially welfare. Nobody wins when contract violations result in millions of taxpayer dollars spent in a court fight….and on and on. But he’s hellbent on doing it anyway with no consideration of any other strategy. What a guy! What makes this governor different from a Republican? How is he different from Walker? Why shouldn’t the next election put a Republican in office? How would it be different?


  12. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    STP,

    I have recently been asked if I was interested in future employment with the State. I burst out laughing and said if you want me to do something, I would do it only on a contract basis, task by task.

    He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint.

    You bet a contract is a contract, and that’s the problem. It’s not that we are just locked into a contract for past performance, but we are locked into future contracts, as yet negotiated and subject to political influence, with a strike always hanging over our heads, and no changes to the system in sight.

    At-will employees with defined contribution retirement and healthcare plans is the only way to go, then when an employee terminates so does the state’s financial obligation to that employee. Public service pensions will cause the bankruptcy of this state. Thank God, new employees have a different retirement scheme.


  13. - STP - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    Gov’s Thompson and Ryan always treated employees with respect, Edgar did also after a year - that is what the Republicans have done differently


  14. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    - I have recently been asked if I was interested in future employment with the State. -

    Dillard is pretty confident, eh?


  15. - dot - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:04 pm:

    AFSCME should have backed Hynes and Dillard in their respective Primaries. They should have never played “hardball” with Speaker Madigan… They should have known better in backing Godinez for the Director of the IDOC… Now… these bad decisions are coming home to them.


  16. - Judgment Day - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:05 pm:

    Bill Brady:

    “Quinn’s stolen our playbook…”
    or
    “Why didn’t I think of that…”

    Mike Madigan:

    “Told Quinn to sign the gambling bill, and not to screw AFSCME until after the election. Why, why, WHY…”
    or
    “AFSCME goes out on strike before or after the election. How does that play with the voters? How can I use this to back Cross into a corner? Questions, questions…”


  17. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    Okay, let’s try to figure out the practical aspects of the ruling.

    If there is no budget for the raises (Rich?) and the money was not appropriated (Rich, was it?), and the revenue stream isn’t identified (Rich, is it there?), and if the vouchers are not backed by any of those three things in this, and future, GA’s, what can the court do, what meaning does any lawsuit have, or how do any traditional remedies get enforced?


  18. - KurtInSpringfield - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    Slick Willy,

    After nine months of negotiations, the State has continually refused to compromise which is why a mediator is getting involved. But, for the mediator to help with negotiating a contract, both sides have to be willing to compromise. It’s not looking good.

    For me personally, the State’s offer would mean almost $1,000 a month less of take home pay. At my current salary, I am already underpaid by about $12,000 a year according to the U.S. Dept of Labor. (I looked up the average pay for my job title in Illinois.) Most of us expected a pay freeze and maybe an increase in insurance premiums, but what Quinn is asking for is too much at one time.


  19. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    STD,

    You sure it was Dillard?


  20. - STP - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:11 pm:

    We have paid out raises from our appropriations in the past - we have an approp for personnel items, state, federal or other funding and we can do some transfer - plus we have the lowest staff rate per capita in the nation -


  21. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    Cinci - Just guessing.


  22. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:31 pm:

    Quinn’s hostility extends beyond union employees. It’s toward every employee who plays by the rules, regardless of union affiliation. The union’s are the most visible, that’s why they have drawn the ire of the oligarchs and anti-worker crowd. Nationally, anyone who advocates ripping-off the middle class attacks unions. This is just because the unions are at the forefront of middle-class battles.


  23. - wordslinger - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    Cinci, I’m guessing it wasn’t Rutherford.


  24. - Carlos S. - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:52 pm:

    When the courts figure out that when they mandate spending it doesn’t magically make the money appear, they will have to begin ordering the state to seize the funds from citizens via taxes. It has has happened before, in Kansas City, when a federal judge ordered tax increases to improve the schools which of course didn’t happen. The reaction was fairly muted at the time but the scale of the train wreck coming means that things will get very, very interesting with this starts to happen.


  25. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:55 pm:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, Wordslinger…


  26. - Secret Square - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    Originally the pay freeze applied to 14 agencies. Since then, 8 of those agencies have been “unfrozen” via Memoranda of Understanding with AFSCME and other unions, restoring the FY12 pay raises retroactively. The agencies in question had enough money left over at the end of FY12 to pay those raises, largely because of people retiring and leaving during the year. Would the same probably not apply to the remaining 6 agencies, which are the subject of the court order?


  27. - Notshockedanymore - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    It should come as no surprise that Ms Kraft apparently feels this way being she got a 47 percent pay raise from $71,000 to $105,000. How many raises would this cover?


  28. - Secret Square - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    “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.”

    Translation: He makes Blago look like a saint.

    “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.”

    Have State employees ever gone on strike — legally or not?


  29. - dupage dan - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 2:00 pm:

    About AFSCME, I know my unit of that union can’t strike - I think it is true for the state in general.

    Really, now, does anyone think that AFSCME would endorse a GOP governor? Really? The most they would do is withhold their endorsement and withhold any street workers going door to door. That could certainly hurt PQ’s chances. I think perhaps PQ realizes he has a legacy to uphold and the collapse of Ill gov’t due to overwhelming pension costs is not the legacy he wishes to leave. Too bad the GOP didn’t win. They may have taken this bull by the horns and could then be tagged as the bad guys.


  30. - Kerfuffle - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 2:55 pm:

    Dupage Dan is right. The union will never endorse a GOP candidate for governorbut one never knows what the rank and file will do in the voting booth.


  31. - wizard - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 3:00 pm:

    maybe the union won’t support a rep candidate, but i bet they will certainly support a primary contender against pq


  32. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 3:09 pm:

    So did the judge actually issue a ruling in this case? I’m confused by Kraft’s comment. I’ve never seen an actual written ruling posted anywhere. Is Kraft spinning? I know my head is.


  33. - Slick Willy - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 3:18 pm:

    Kurt in Spfld -

    I am well aware of what is going on.

    I view a strike as similar to a divorce. It may be necessary, but it is painful, everyone gets hurt and nobody comes out a winner. If it comes down to the union striking, so be it.


  34. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 3:33 pm:

    - maybe the union won’t support a rep candidate, but i bet they will certainly support a primary contender against pq -

    I sure hope the “Quinn didn’t give us our raises” bit resonates with the citizenry.


  35. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 3:41 pm:

    Anonymous @ 3:09,

    Here is what the AFSCME site had to say about the history of the case:

    After the parties submitted written briefs and made oral arguments over the course of more than six months, Circuit Court Judge Richard Billick issued a ruling in the case on July 2, 2012.

    Judge Bilick remanded the case back to Arbitrator Benn for a fact-finding proceeding as to the state’s ability to pay the increases. He said:

    “It is hereby ordered: Plaintiff’s motion to vacate the Award is granted in part and defendant’s motion to confirm the Award is denied, except that the Arbitrator’s findings in the Award based upon an interpretation of the CBA/CSA that plaintiff is under a contractual obligation to pay the wage increases are not vacated or stricken. The matter is remanded to arbitration for a further proceeding to allow plaintiff to establish its public policy defense.”

    The public policy defense to which the order refers is the Quinn Administration’s assertion that there are insufficient appropriated funds to allow it to pay the wage increases. The judge essentially held that the Governor’s claim that he could not spend funds that had not been appropriated could be a valid defense, but that the facts as thus far presented were not sufficient to prove that defense.

    ——————————–

    If the above is accurate, then Kraft is doing a bit of spin. You don’t even need to read between the lines to see the judge was telling the State that if they got their act together along the lines the judge was suggesting, they MAY have a case against the union. The other way to read it is the judge thinks the union has a slam dunk if the State doesn’t get it’s act together.

    Your guess is as good as mine …


  36. - Anonymice - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:12 pm:

    Thanks, RNUG. If the quote is accurate, the judge is saying that the statutory provision about multi-year contracts being “subject to appropriaton” does not nullify the contract. If it did, the finding that there is a contractual obligation should have been reversed. Also, if you read some “contracts clause” cases, you will learn that the “public policy” defense is a justification for enacting a law in impairment of contract. This defense would relevant only if the judge believes that failing to appropriate sufficient funds violated the contracts clauses of the state and federal constitution.


  37. - wordslinger - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:18 pm:

    In the strict sense of the word, the “arbitrator” is not truly an “arbitrator,” correct? Mediator is more like it?


  38. - Liberty First - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:20 pm:

    What hindsight people have!

    - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 12:00 pm:
    At-will employees with defined contribution retirement and healthcare plans is the only way to go, then when an employee terminates so does the state’s financial obligation to that employee. Public service pensions will cause the bankruptcy of this state.


  39. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:32 pm:

    wordslinger @ 4:18,

    In this case, I believe “arbitrator” is the proper term. I didn’t include the entire article, but the mutually agreed upon arbitrator was charged with actually issuing a decision on whether the State had violated the contract; the decision by the arbitrator (short version) was that the State HAD violated the contract and must pay the raises.

    Since the State didn’t like that decision, the State then went to court …


  40. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:35 pm:

    wordlsiger,

    Should have clarified I was referring to the previous action on the past contract.

    Just realized you could have been refering to either that or the contract under negogiation; on the new contract, I believe “mediator” would be the proper term.


  41. - KurtInSpringfield - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:36 pm:

    No, Wordslinger, As I understand, an arbitrator’s decision is legally binding which is why the Administration had to file an appeal in court to vacate the arbitrator’s decision. If they had not filed an appeal, they would have been legally obligated to pay the raises.

    A mediator is someone called in to help two sides negotiate an agreement, but a mediator’s recommendations are not legally binding.

    That’s a simple way of looking at it anyway.


  42. - KurtInSpringfield - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 4:45 pm:

    Slick Willy,

    I did not mean to imply you didn’t know what was going on. I have no idea what you know or don’t know regarding this situation. Sorry if it came across that way. And I agree with you completely on your strike/divorce analogy.

    I was just trying to make the point that the administration does not seem like they want to come to an agreement, and if that is the case, a mediator won’t be able to change their position.


  43. - RNUG - Friday, Aug 31, 12 @ 5:15 pm:

    Arbitrator just ruled against Quinn / State on prision closings.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * Angela Bertoni: How to raise awareness of domestic violence in October
        * Catherine Rampell: Tech firms’ poor record of diversity
        * Audit finds state lax in reviewing eligibility for children’s health insurance program
        * Does the governor need to live in the Executive Mansion?
        * Our Opinion: Driving into floodwater a deadly practice


        * Police: Highland High teen dies in high-speed Corvette crash
        * Police: Highland High School teen dies in high-speed Corvette crash
        * Clutterbugs to host fall shopping expo
        * SIU enrollment increases for first time in 10 years
        * MJ's minute: Sept. 2, 2014
        * Is it no longer safe to recline your airplane seat?
        * School Daze: the first day - or week - can be a challenge
        * Boil order issued for part of Carbondale
        * Popcorn Days walk/run and fun run
        * UI Volleyball vs North Carolina


        * Barbecue hogs the spotlight at Rock 'n Ribs in Lake Zurich
        * West Chicago Park District ready to show off 70,000-square-foot, $15.5M indoor rec center
        * Zion man sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing 5-month-old baby
        * Rodon won't be joining White Sox -- for now
        * Kane County Cougars announce big projects for 2015

        * Feds fine Jesse Jackson Jr.'s campaign com...
        * IRS enforcement agent numbers could drop t...
        * Jesse Jackson Jr. political fund fined nea...
        * Jackson Jr.'s political fund fined nearly ...
        * 'Celebrity Crime Files' Season Three, With...
        * Welcome to the state's Bult Field - Chicag...
        * US Rep. Lipinski accepting service academy...
        * Dem Explains Why He Voted 'Present' on DAC...
        * Immigration dominates Lipinski's town hall...
        * US Rep. Lipinski accepting service academy...

        * Amtrak demands probe of CN freight trains...
        * Construction Industry Continues to Raise C......
        * Construction Industry Continues to Raise C......
        * Who Leaked Nude Photos Of Jennifer Lawrenc......
        * Who Leaked Nude Photos Of Jennifer Lawrenc......

        * Rauner criticizes Quinn on veterans...
        * Construction Industry Continues to Raise C......
        * Ex-HP chief to speak at Downers Grove orga......

        * O'Brien: Yes We Tan. Obama Concedes to ISIS in "Taupe and Change" suit
        * Rauner Rolls Out Veterans Coalition
        * Hultgren talks health care with community leaders
        * Quinn plays up minimum wage diet to appeal to voters
        * Patriot group organizes 60 day prayer list for November elections
        * Foster: Oberweis' flip-flop on immigration cost him my vote
        * Illinois climatologist: August was warmer than July
        * GOP challenger Brannigan goes after U.S. Rep. Lipinski for anti-privacy vote
        * Equality Illinois, Planned Parenthood says "Doris wants your vCard"
        * Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan and Britain condemn ISIS; Illinois Muslims silent


        * When it comes to jobs and hiring, Pat Quinn is veteran unfriendly
        * Pat Quinn’s Blagojevich-style Hiring Hurts Veterans
        * Rauner Rolls Out Veterans Coalition
        * ICYMI: Capitol Fax: “A Very Good Point”
        * Like All Illinoisans, Veterans Are Hurting Under Pat Quinn




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