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*** UPDATED x1 *** AFSCME claims another court victory in back pay fight

Friday, Dec 7, 2012

* A spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn says the state plans to appeal. This is AFSCME’s statement, with one from Quinn supposedly coming soon…

Frontline state employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 won a partial but important victory in Cook County Circuit Court yesterday when Judge Richard Billik ordered that the administration of Governor Pat Quinn is obligated to pay wages the governor has unilaterally withheld from some 30,000 state workers since July 2011.

Governor Quinn refused to pay negotiated wage increases provided in the union contract, arguing that the state legislature failed to appropriate sufficient funds. An independent arbitrator subsequently found the Governor in violation of the contract and ordered him to pay the wages, but the administration appealed.

While Billik found that the state cannot immediately pay more than the appropriated amount, he ruled that this argument does not dissolve the state’s contractual obligation. The state must pay what it can now and make employees whole eventually.

“This ruling is a strong affirmation of the union’s clear and simple position: Employees must be paid the wages they are owed, and a contract cannot be unilaterally discarded,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said.

Judge Billik had previously ordered the state to preserve and sequester funds available at the end of the 2012 fiscal year, preventing them from lapsing until the case is decided. He has now ordered the Quinn Administration to work with the Comptroller to place those funds in a trust that cannot be accessed except to pay employees what they are owed. Billik will issue a further ruling clarifying how these funds may be disbursed.

Affected employees are those who work for the Illinois Departments of Corrections, Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Natural Resources and Public Health as well as the Human Rights Commission.

“Governor Quinn has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars with the goal of preventing middle-class public employees from being paid according to their contract and the law,” AFSCME director Bayer said. “We urge the governor to end his wasteful court battle and move forward to pay employees who have waited far too long.”

*** UPDATE *** From the Governor’s office…

The Illinois General Assembly did not appropriate money for raises in its Fiscal Year 12 budget. As the Governor has said repeatedly, the state cannot pay money it does not have the appropriation authority to spend. We will immediately appeal this ruling.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

50 Comments
  1. - Sgtstu - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    To whomever does the response for Quinn, remember he just sent out the letter to all state workers saying “Quinn tells state workers he respects, values them”.


  2. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:16 pm:

    Quinn and AG Madigan continue to dedicate significant resources to wrongly perpetrate harm on both union and non-union state employees. At some point the State of Illinois should consider acting morally and ethically towards employees. The savings from dropping the hostility toward public service could largely offset any costs.

    All too often the courts are enamored with AG Madigan when she supports wrongdoing. I’m glad to see the court standing up to her for a change.


  3. - AC - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:23 pm:

    I find it especially interesting that the Judge recognized that the state may not have had the money initially, but were still required to pay when the money was available. At most agencies, there have been significant numbers of vacancies, those would have paid for pay raises for a large number of people.


  4. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:28 pm:

    Interesting split decision. Contract has to be honored but only when money is appropriated.

    Seems to me when it was the Judge’s COLA, there was an immediate order to the Comptroller to pay regardless of appropriation …


  5. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    I’m a little disappointed to read here that Quinn plans on appealing the decision. I also got that so-called “Dear Valued Employee” Quinn letter. Why does he want to continue the legal saga? Is the interest on the unpaid amounts at 7% too high? I wish he would just show some real good faith and try to pay what he can now instead of fighting more.


  6. - WhoKnew - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    - AC -

    That’s exactly why the state had to “Make Whole” the Revenue employees. So many retirees left an excess in the 2012 Fiscal budget.


  7. - Johnny - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:49 pm:

    What’s the difference between funds “available” and funds “appropriated”? Of the original 14 agencies that supposedly didn’t have funds appropriated to pay raises, nine of them have subsequently paid them. So, does the “no appropriation” argument then become invalid?


  8. - sk hicks - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:52 pm:

    Wow, so if you worked for one of those agencies and retired, your final average compensation was lower since you did not get the raise. Hopefully, the Admin. will work night & day to make those valued folks whole too, instead of working overtime to avoid the obligation.


  9. - LilLebowskiAchiever - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:54 pm:

    “The savings from dropping the hostility toward public service could largely offset any costs.”

    This is crazy. I have no idea what this means.

    If there is no money… there is no money.


  10. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:59 pm:

    ==”To whomever does the response for Quinn, remember he just sent out the letter to all state workers saying “Quinn tells state workers he respects, values them”.”===

    It doesn’t matter, as Quinn learned from his former running mate (now inmate), it’s just Puffery and a cynical politician’s words don’t count.


  11. - truthteller - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:04 pm:

    Quinn’s argument all along has been that sufficient funds were not appropriated. The judge says you must pay them with appropriated funds.
    Why would he appeal? Because he’s been lying about his true motivation?


  12. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:14 pm:

    - Because he’s been lying about his true motivation? -

    The budget is a public thing, you can see the appropriations for yourself.


  13. - truthteller - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:24 pm:

    The judge said the wages must be paid from appropriated funds, period.Obviously if funds are not appropriated, Quinn doesn’t have to pay, but when they are, he does, with seven percent interest.Again, why is he appealing if he only has to pay when the funds are actually appropriated


  14. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:28 pm:

    If AFSCME members are union thugs, wouldn’t someone have been kneecapped by now?


  15. - from somone who's been there - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:29 pm:

    -Johnny - on available vs appropriated - these are two different values. The General Assembly gives you an appropriation of $100K to spend on whatever from a special fund that gets its revenue from a special fee or license.

    If there is only $30K in the bank for that fund, then what you have AVAILABLE to spend is well below what you have APPROPRIATED to spend. Basically you are limited to the cash available to satisfy the appropriation.


  16. - Happy Returns - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:29 pm:

    “What’s the difference between funds “available” and funds “appropriated”?”

    Appropriations are spending authorization limits. Being ‘allowed’ to spend $1 Billion is not the same thing as actually having the cash to spend.


  17. - DirtNap - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:29 pm:

    Does anyone think the funds will EVER be appropriated?


  18. - Spliff - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:40 pm:

    So does it mean that the DOC, DJJ, DHS employees will get paid now that the line item reductions that The Gov made to those agencies through closures were allowed to go into effect by the GA?


  19. - RetiredStateEmployee - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:52 pm:

    It’s not that there isn’t any money. If all of the past due bills were paid, there wouldn’t be any money. But, it’s the priority given to the order of bills to be paid. Shifting money to pay contractual agreements would delay further paying other bills since there is a huge pile of unpaid bills.

    If appropriations were tied to cash, the GA wouldn’t be able to appropriate the money the way they do now.


  20. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:53 pm:

    My quick reaction -

    - Seems to support the integrity of contracts.
    - Does seem inconsistent from the judge cola ruling and other orders that require emergency funding of assistance programs without an approp. (The latter due to budget empasse.)
    - Failure to approp and delay would seem to be result in more interest expense to the state in order to make the employees “whole.”
    - I see more interest in requiring GA approval of contracts.


  21. - lincolnlover - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:56 pm:

    Lebowski - Money is appropriated at the beginning of the fiscal year for a specific headcount. It is supposed to include money for raises, etc, but the GA did not include that in its appropriations. When someone retires or leaves, the appropriation is not adjusted, it just goes into the personnel line, like it was appropriated for. Therefore, if enough people leave, there is money to pay raises to those who stay.


  22. - Pelon - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:58 pm:

    “Does anyone think the funds will EVER be appropriated?”

    The problem the governor has is that the funds WERE appropriated for most, if not all, state agencies at the end of last year. Instead of spending that appropriated money on the contractually required raises, though, he used it to hire new employees. If I remember correctly, Quinn agreed to not pay the raises as part of the deal to the get the supplemental appropriations passed.


  23. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 4:04 pm:

    LilLebowskiAchiever - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:54 pm:

    “The savings from dropping the hostility toward public service could largely offset any costs.”

    ==This is crazy. I have no idea what this means.==

    ==If there is no money… there is no money.== THAT is disingenuous. There’s plenty of money to pay lawyers and managers from the state coffers to attack ethical employees. Also, plenty of court time to suffer Quinn’s and Madigan’s mischief.
    The lebowski theme suits you well.


  24. - Johnny - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 4:26 pm:

    So, if the original 14 agencies didn’t have appropriations for raises (which they originally claimed), then why have they since paid for the raises in nine of those agencies? That’s where I’m confused.


  25. - Wensicia - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 4:50 pm:

    How many years will state employees be forced to wait before they become “whole”?


  26. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:01 pm:

    Johnny @ 4:26 pm:

    At the beginning of the year, each agency was given a pile of money labeled payroll, intended to pay the current / planned employees for the year. In some agencies, people left their state job and nobody was hired to replace them. If enough people did that, then there was money in the “personnel line item” to pay the raises in that agency.

    That is what has generally happened, although there is another way.

    Each agency director also has some latitude to transfer a small precentage between “budgeted line items”, so a director could have decided, for example, to cut back on employee education or travel and instead used the money for payroll.

    And even Quinn as Gov has the ability to transfer a certain percentage of the budgeted funds between agencies.

    The bottom line is that the money coudl ahve been “found” by cutting back on plans and moving funds around.


  27. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:13 pm:

    I appreciate the important clarification from the governor’s office.


  28. - cassandra - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:21 pm:

    I appreciate the clarification from RNUG.

    The money was there. He didn’t use it.

    State monies are sooo much more fungible than people realize.


  29. - Johnny - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:24 pm:

    The Governor is making it sound like there is a very specific line item in the budget for raises, and the Legislature didn’t provide money in that line item. So, then why did they pay some raises and not others, particularly among Governor’s Office staff?


  30. - Anonymous 45 - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:24 pm:

    Merry Christmas peons…!


  31. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:41 pm:

    The gov’s messaging would carry more weight if his admin hadn’t cherry picked agencies for raises. Some got raises, others didn’t. People in the same jobs in different agencies were treated differently. If he says the GA didn’t give him the money, then use it to have an across-the-board policy. You can point the finger at the GA if your employees are mad. But he didn’t. He gave raises in some areas, withheld them in others. Then he blamed the GA. Exactly who’s in charge here? Does he want to be governor or not? Six years in, I can’t tell.


  32. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:47 pm:

    cassandra @ 5:21 pm

    You’re welcome. Back when I still worked for a living, over the years I was on both ends of those transfers, sometimes losing education / travel / equipment funding, sometimes gaining additional equipment funding.

    Yes, the money is very fungible. I often padded certain line items in the budget request knowing full well some would be cut and some would survive. I won’t leak all the secrets, but over the years you learn how to play the budgeting game so you can do the job you are supposed to be doing.

    The worst part of the budgeting was trying to guess how much of “my” portion of the agency budget might be raided to support the Gov office. It’s an open secret that very little of the actual Gov office expenses are shown in the Gov office budget but are instead paid out of the bigger agencies.


  33. - PSA - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:49 pm:

    It’s even worse than some agencies got raises some didn’t. I had employees who I directly supervised who got contractual raises and some who did not. So some of my employees got raises and their co-workers did not and they are all paid from the exact same line item. It didn’t make sense…..


  34. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:57 pm:

    Johnny @ 5:24 pm:

    Reread my previous post at 5:01 pm.


  35. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:00 pm:

    PSA,

    Were they indirectly federally funded positions or were the people working in different programs, which might have had different funding sources?


  36. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:06 pm:

    PSA,

    Or are you confusing mandated step with contractual?


  37. - annon - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:20 pm:

    why doesn’t quinn pay what’s due & stop waisting time & the taxpayers money defending a position that’s really undefendable. he made a deal with the union to forgo raises , bargained for in a 4 year contract & deferred by agreement into the future to help out his little $$ problem. had he just paid it on time, as agreed this whole thing would be a non-issue. he managed to pay the others. there was several million vouchered at the end of the last fiscal year. quinn needs to clean this up because if it’s as easy as that ; nobody will enter a contract with the state. got to wonder what this delay tactic is costing the state ?


  38. - El Conquistador - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:26 pm:

    The Blago-Quinn (and now Madigan joined) goofball policy show continues. Own your job and role Patrick. They’re your employees. While karma is not always instant, there is always karma.


  39. - Roadiepig - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:28 pm:

    The Illinois General Assembly did not appropriate money for raises in its Fiscal Year 12 budget. As the Governor has said repeatedly, the state cannot pay money it does not have the appropriation authority to spend. We will immediately appeal this ruling.

    So yesterday the governor’s yearly b.s. email (yes, I received them from several govs, but they always read about the same- we appreciate your hard work and efforts to get thorough these tough times.) explaining how much he appreciates the hard working peons.

    Then today a court rules (again, further up the court system) that he will have to pay the raises eventually, one way or another, and the governor’s mouthpiece says they will immediately appeal the ruling of the court (again).

    Any wonder why the contract negotiations are going nowhere here in Bizzaroland?


  40. - Wensicia - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:53 pm:

    “I value your hard work, your commitment to the common good and your service to Illinois and its people.”

    As far as your contract and expectations, it sucks to be you.


  41. - PSA - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 7:16 pm:

    RNUG no fed money and no on the step vs. contractual. As a matter of fact the employees who didn’t get raises got nothing including steps that were due. As a matter of fact the payroll comes from a revolving fund which the GA appropriates no money for, just spending authority. So even the argument that sufficient funds were not appropriated is BS as well in this case.


  42. - PSA - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 7:18 pm:

    Sorry for being redundant with the “as a matter of facts”


  43. - Anon - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 7:33 pm:

    When a public employer enters into a multiyear contract it never knows if it will have the necessary funds appropriated the next year. The response however is that you honor the terms of the contract even if you have to layoff folks to do it. multi year contracts are favored by employers not employee unions. Quinn has completely botched this for many other public employers now aghast at what this could become.


  44. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 8:09 pm:

    PSA,

    Understand. I used to work partially out of a revolving fund that just had a spending authority limit (which was usually a lot less than the monies actually available in the fund). I also was the third party receiptant of some fed funds, so I know how convoluted some of the stuff gets when it comes to budgeting.

    Sounds like refusing the raises there was stirctly arbitrary.


  45. - Johnny - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 8:58 pm:

    RNUG, yes I read your posts, but I don’t think your addressing my question. Quinn put all 14 agencies in the same category early on and said the Legislature didn’t appropriate funds in those agencies for raises. Then, over the last year or so, nine of those agencies have since then gotten their raises. So, my point is it doesn’t seem like he’s using a consistent argument in denying raises.


  46. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 9:11 pm:

    Johnny,

    From what I’ve read, the State claimed to have “found” enough money for raises in those agencies because of all the resignations. If was still working, I might be able to get a peek at a couple of those agency’s books … but I and most of my counterparts / contempararies are retired these days … don’t know too many people still at the State and the ones I do know are not in budgeting.


  47. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 9:31 pm:

    RNUG, so the problem here is lack of a consistent message from governor. There’s no money for raises except when there’s money for raises. There’s no money for DCFS so we’ve got to close facilities and lay people off. Why not use the raise money to maintain DCFS and tell everyone “no raises”?
    It looks a lot like less essential agencies are being rewarded with raises because people who it turns out don’t need to be replaced finally retired. Whereas you’ve got other agencies who apparently are actually using the budgeted money ending up on the short end of the stick because either no one quit or the jobs were vital and needed to be filled.
    But what am I saying. Quinn’s a lt. gov at heart so it’s not like he’d understand essential state service.


  48. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:31 pm:

    Michelle,

    I can’t understand this Gov. My best guess is that, since he spent so many years as an outside agitator, he never learned how to actually manage or govern.

    As to staffing levels at state agencies, I know a several of them are short staffed and highly stressed. Yes, every agency used to (and probably still does) have some slackers … they were usually some relative of a politican or someone being paid back for some political favor. But all the slackers do is cause more work for the people that are still there and actually trying to get the work done. I expect some kind of workplace meltdown or incident any time in the next 6 to 12 months … and I’ve predicted that before now. I’m not going to detail anything specific because I don’t want to give people ideas. I hope I’m wrong … but the signs are there if anyone is paying attention.

    My personal opinion is Quinn probably could have gotten a fair amount of what he wanted if he had (1) actually led on any issue instead of either flip-flopping or defaulting to whatever the GA passes and (2) actually bargained with the unions in good faith and kept his word on the deals he cut.

    I know a lot of people who would have given on the health insurance and been willing to pay a bit but once it was rammed down their throat, the additude changed to an expletive Rich would delete me for using. Same on most the other issues.

    Somewhere along the way Quinn seems to have the delusion he was elected dictator of the state. And not being on the same page with Madigan and Cullerton just compounds the problem.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen but right now I think the best we can hope for is the State manages to muddle through the next two years.


  49. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:36 pm:

    MF - The whole point is that the Governor entered into a contract to provide raises and then reneged on that contract. The court has ruled that he can’t renege on the contract.

    I’m not going to get into a debate as to whether he should have agreed to the raises or not in light of other priorities. It was his decision to bind the state. It’s not the union’s decision - although they asked for it, they can’t act on behalf of the state. It’s not the General Assembly’s decision, although they appropriate the funds. Many cynics say that this was a payoff for union help in getting elected.

    With respect to “found” money to pay raises, I believe folks are forgetting about the state’s ability to transfer funds among lines, subject to certain restrictions. If I recall correctly, you can transfer up to 2% from other lines into the personal services lines. I suspect that is where the found money came from. Someone may ask if this could have been done to meet the raise obligations in the remaining agencies. I don’t have the information to answer that question.


  50. - wyld175 - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:36 pm:

    I wonder what Maximus is going to do when they don’t get paid. Quinn negotiated an $80 million contract to do bargaining unit work (DHS, who did not get their raise) Why should anyone believe that the state will actually honor a contract. He will probably terminate the Maximus contract before he has to pay them too.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Quintana looks to avoid another no-decision
* Renteria uses NL maneuvers to guide club
* Trio of HRs not enough as White Sox fall in desert
* Keeping it 100: Abreu hits milestone homer
* Covey exits start in 3rd with oblique soreness
* Trio of HRs not enough as White Sox fall in desert


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