* AFSCME Council 31 press release…
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration is violating state labor law by refusing to allow thousands of state workers to move as scheduled through the state pay plan over the past two years, a state appellate court has ruled.
The state pay plan and collective bargaining agreements provide for state employees to progress via step increases after being hired. But Gov. Rauner’s Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has blocked employees represented by AFSCME—the largest union of state workers—from progressing through the pay plan’s steps since July 1, 2015, when the union’s most recent contract was scheduled to expire.
The appellate court’s decision reverses the Rauner-appointed Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB)’s dismissal of the union’s charge that the administration had committed an unfair labor practice by blocking step progression through the pay plan.
“We’re pleased that the court has halted Governor Rauner’s illegal action preventing thousands of public service workers from receiving their lawful step increases. This is money that working people were promised when they were hired, money they have earned and are counting on to help support their families and pay their bills,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said.
“Illegally denying steps to the newest-hired and lowest-paid state employees fits Bruce Rauner’s pattern of anti-worker behavior,” Lynch added. “Rauner should refrain from appealing this decision and move swiftly to place employees at the appropriate step on the pay scale.”
In its initial charge and its appeal, AFSCME pointed out that state law prevents either party to a collective bargaining agreement from making unilateral changes to the terms and conditions of employment while a new agreement is being negotiated, and requires employers to maintain the status quo.
“[T]here is no dispute that the step increases are a term or condition of employment, and there is no real question that [the Rauner administration] made a unilateral decision to withhold the step increases during negotiations,” the court found. “… [T]he ILRB’s finding that CMS did not commit an unfair labor practice was clearly erroneous”.
The court’s unanimous decision was issued today by a panel of three judges in the fifth appellate district.
The ruling is not yet posted online and I’ve asked the governor’s office for comment.
…Adding… The ruling is here.
*** UPDATE *** From the Rauner administration…
The Labor Board ruled in our favor on the issue of step increases. Today the 5th District Appellate Court ruled against the State on that step issue and remanded the matter back to the Labor Board for further proceedings. The State is reviewing the decision and will decide shortly what next steps it plans to take.