Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x2 - Back pay amendment appears on Madigan bill - AFSCME to reconvene bargaining committee *** Finger-pointing on AFSCME contract
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*** UPDATED x2 - Back pay amendment appears on Madigan bill - AFSCME to reconvene bargaining committee *** Finger-pointing on AFSCME contract

Friday, Apr 26, 2013

* The AP follows up on a story that first appeared here yesterday

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wants Attorney General Lisa Madigan to drop a lawsuit over back pay for unionized state workers so he can implement a new state contract he says will save hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Madigan’s office said Thursday the attorney general won’t dissolve the legal action until her lawyers know whether lawmakers will put up $140 million to pay the back wages that are at the center of the wrangling. If there’s a hang-up in the General Assembly, the attorney general needs to keep legal options open, spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said.

Quinn and the employees’ union settled the dispute at the bargaining table, and his assistant budget director, Abdon Pallasch, said prolonging the lawsuit holds up $900 million in health care savings. The union won’t sign the contract its membership ratified until the lawsuit is pulled off the docket.

Madigan, a Chicago Democrat like Quinn, is considering opposing him in the gubernatorial primary next spring, but officials were careful Thursday to stress the lawsuit is not a question of political ill will. […]

Quinn wants to put the rancor behind him now, particularly with election season approaching, but also because there are savings to be had. While he gave up the fight over the raises, Quinn is eager to realize the health care savings from current and retired state workers in the newly ratified pact, Pallasch said.

“Failing to resolve the $64 million lawsuit now risks the $900 million in health care savings for taxpayers under the contract,” he said.

This is a real standoff. Right now, it doesn’t look like the GA is in any mood to fund the back pay. So the lawsuit won’t be dropped. But that means the contract won’t be signed. The whole thing could come tumbling down, and might even spark another contract vote.

*** UPDATE *** AFSCME just sent this e-mail to its members…

AFSCME has informed the Quinn Administration that the union is not prepared to sign the new contract without further authorization from the union membership. Your AFSCME Bargaining Committee is convening on Monday to recommend a course of action—and further information will be coming to you soon.

I know that the situation can be confusing and frustrating—especially for those employees who have not received their negotiated raises. However, it’s critical to keep in mind how far we have come by standing together and standing firm.

When the pay raise was initially withheld, AFSCME immediately took the issue to arbitration—and won. When the State appealed that decision to court, the Union battled through all the legal delays and maneuvers and secured a ruling that the contract must be honored. When the state said it had no money to pay any raises, AFSCME’s research turned up tens of millions of dollars which resulted in thousands of employees receiving the wages owed over the past two years and many more in line to receive monies from the funds held in escrow.
We’ve succeeded time and again when others said it couldn’t be done. We’re not going to give up now. We’ll keep on fighting to ensure that justice is done for all members. And if all members stand together, we can succeed once more.

Henry Bayer
Executive Director

*** UPDATE 2 *** If you click here, you’ll see an amendment to a Speaker Madigan bill filed today by Rep. John Bradley which appears to fund the back pay.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Cassiopeia - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    All fingers point directly at Quinn. He drug his feet on negotiating and then agreed suddenly with this back pay provision when he didn’t have the appropriation authority to do so.

    Now he wants to cast blame at the AG who is just being responsible. Lisa is definitely the adult in this arena.

  2. - State worker - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 9:59 am:

    We spent 15 months at the table .. Let’s do the right thing and move on . At this rate we will headed to the next 3 year contract and the State won’t benefit from any of our concessions .

  3. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    The new contract negated the need for Ms. Lisa’s input. Move on.

  4. - unspun - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    I suspect that Quinn is attempting to get AFSCME to start blasting Lisa Madigan for holding up their dollars. How long will those AFSCME employees that are waiting on their lump sum backpay sit on their hands while Lisa holds the keys? Maybe a good move by PQ, if only in the short-term?

  5. - Soccertease - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    The “failure of the general assembly to appropriate” seems to be gaining popularity as an “out” for the state to renege on contracts and legislation. We really want to do this but darn it , the general assembly failed to appropriate the money.

  6. - Roadiepig - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    The GA wasn’t willing to fulfill the previous contracts raises, and now is willing to leave $900 million in extra insurance payments from employees and retirees on the table over paying the $140 million they didn’t pay on the last contract ? Yeah, that sounds about par for the course

  7. - WOW - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:16 am:

    Quinn should have gotten the General Assembly’s blessing before cutting the deal. Quinn had to know they might balk on such a deal. Quinn plays way too many political games. Lisa Madigan has no other choice but to wait.

  8. - PublicServant - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    When are the Supreme’s scheduled to hear the appeal to the Maag Lawsuit over the state’s attempt to welch on its promise to pay retiree healthcare premiums?

  9. - WOW - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    This is called “union busting”.

  10. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:37 am:

    Has it always been this way? Seems like after an election we use to have a very brief break from Political campaigns. Seems like these two are starting obscenely early.

  11. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    - Quinn should have gotten the General Assembly’s blessing before cutting the deal. -

    Why doesn’t he just invent time travel, or cure cancer while he’s at it?

  12. - Bondholder - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    Who needs reality TV when we have IL Politics.

  13. - PublicServant - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    Staring Gov Quinn as Honey BooBoo, Bruce Rauner as The Situation, and Elaine Nekritz as Snookie.

  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    ===Why doesn’t he just invent time travel, or cure cancer while he’s at it?===

    STL, sometimes you argue like a juvenile. Nobody is asking for miracles here.

  15. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    I wonder is it time to require the GA to vote on the contract prior to it being approved by the Union?

  16. - Mama - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    The boxing match between Quinn and Madigan continues and the beat goes on… while the state workers and the teachers get the boot.

    Does a contract agreement mean anything anymore?

  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    To extend my remarks, STL, you almost always have good arguments for your side. But you get a bit off track when the topic turns to PQ. Try to make your PQ comments more like your other comments. Thanks.

  18. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    - Nobody is asking for miracles here. -

    My apologies Rich, I’ve had a rough morning. To better phrase it:

    Getting the GA to guarantee they will pass a budget that appropriates adequate funding for both the back pay and the new contract seems like a very difficult task, to me. I could be wrong.

  19. - Casual Observer - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    I would think for PQ to get the GA to appropriate $$ money to meet contract obligations he would need to give something up. Cue up gambling legislation?

  20. - 47th Ward - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    I recall Speaker Madigan telling Jak Tichenor that agencies can approve raises but only if they also implement layoffs. It seemed clear to me he was saying there would be no supplemental appropriation for salary increases, contract or no contract.

    Again, if anyone here hasn’t listened to that excellent interview, check Rich’s archives and find it. It was the most interesting six minute interview you’ll ever hear.

    Those pointing the finger at the Attorney General are not aiming at the right Madigan.

  21. - Juice - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:31 am:

    Once again, the agreement was to drop the lawsuit and seek a supplemental to have the back pay appropriated. Nothing in the agreement said it was a sure thing that the GA would do it. Just that they would be asked.

  22. - Ready To Get Out - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Just received another message on this subject from AFSCME.


    In the meantime, AFSCME has informed the Quinn Administration that the union is not prepared to sign the new contract without further authorization from the union membership. Your AFSCME Bargaining Committee is convening on Monday to recommend a course of action—and further information will be coming to you soon.

  23. - Ghost - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    If the ga wants more say they can pass a New York labor law style ammeneent that requires pay/benefit terms of the contract to be approved by a vote of the ga. Of all the afscme members vote we can have the ga vote as well.

  24. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    I’m sure this is oversimplifying and wishful thinking, but couldn’t Quinn and the union do an end-around AG Madigan by quickly renegotiating the contract to add a payment of the backwages in exchange for the union dropping their lawsuit against the state?

  25. - Ghost - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    Would prior governors touring federal facilities count?

    Word lets be honest, if Quinn did that much visiting he would be accused of using state resources for campaigning; or not being in his office to address real problems. It is the mafia of “real” problems that whatever the gov does, he is not working on the real problem.

  26. - Ghost - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    And now to put this in the right place /sigh

  27. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    Jeez. I don’t wanna go on strike!

  28. - Johnnie F. - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 12:28 pm:

    Sounds like they want even more employees to retire. Headcount is down 10% in FY13.

  29. - Jack - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    I’m no legal expert. But it doesn’t seem like a special approp. would be needed to drop an appeal. The state is already obligated to pay the raises; whether this is done through a special approp or a future FY approp seems irrelevant.

  30. - BiBe - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    Part of the AFSCME letter than wasn’t quoted above: “Unfortunately, the Attorney General has taken the position that how to proceed with the lawsuit is entirely within her purview…”

    The state agencies she represents will tell you that the idea Lisa Madigan alone has the unchecked authority to decide every aspect of lititgation on behalf of or against the State has been a halmark of her administration. No one, including the Governor, will tell her what to do with a case. There is no recognition that her job is to make legal decisions, not policy ones. This may make her popular with the public, but she will have fences to mend if she is becomes Governor.

    The only reason I think she won’t run is that it doesn’t seem like she has figured out the decisions she makes today are ones she would want to argue belong to the Governor and the Agencies if the roles were reversed.

  31. - KurtInSpringfield - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 12:47 pm:

    Like I said before, I will not vote for a new contract until they honor the old one, and the lawsuit is dropped. What good is a contract with my employer if my employer chooses not to honor the terms?

  32. - Norseman - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 1:31 pm:

    As I’ve said before, this contract is gut check time for AFSCME. I always thought the proposed contract would run into problems with the Speaker. The Quinn/Lisa battle will exacerbate the problem. Is AFSCME ready with a plan of action? Are they prepared to risk a strike and the blowback from the speaker?

  33. - Pelon - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    The AG should withdraw the suit because it is a no win case. Either 1) they lose and have to pay the money required by the contract, or 2) they win and establish the precedent that the State’s word on a contract is not binding if the legislature chooses not to fund it. How do either of those outcomes benefit the State?

  34. - Dirty Red - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 2:48 pm:

    It would appear as if the Speaker’s reaction, pointed out on this blog, to questions about appropriating funds for back pay are coming full circle.

  35. - RNUG - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    PublicServant @ 10:21 am:

    I believe the IL SC has Maag on their fall calendar … without looking it up, it will be Sept / Oct before we know the fate of the case.

  36. - Ghost - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    BiBe I am not sure what you are trying to say. Th atorney general is a constitutional office responsible for serving as the attorney for the State. he reason it is a seperate office is so to serve as a check and balance against decisions that are made to benefit an office hoilder, but are not in the states best interest.

    Case in point, George Ryan wanted to settle a debt obligation of the State with Cellini for pennies on the dollar; George also wanted to buy a privately owned building for more then it was worth. Attorney general Jim Ryan opposed these actions as the Attorney for the State and not in the bst interest of the State. If Lisa Madigan is making decision based on policy positions of office holders she is not doing her job of making legal decision for the State as its attorney.

  37. - disappointed - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 4:57 pm:

    I have to say I’m disappointed in Lisa Madigan. I thought she was a friend to working women. A working woman’s best friend is her union contract. Pursuing this legal action, undermine’s working women’s rights in the and throughout the state.

  38. - Just Me - Wednesday, May 1, 13 @ 10:29 am:

    Rich, I’m only half-joking here because I realize a bill/amendment filed by John Bradley on a Madigan shell bill isn’t just any ordinary filing, but you’ve reminded us a hundred times that anyone can file a bill for anything and we should’t read too much into it.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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