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AFSCME declares another victory over Rauner on step increases

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2018

* AFSCME Council 31

In a June 12 hearing in Springfield on the matter of step increases that Governor Rauner has illegally withheld from state employees since 2015, the state panel of the Illinois Labor Relations Board rejected the Rauner administration’s delay tactics, found that employees must be made whole, and sent the matter to a board compliance officer to determine a remedy.

The case—which began as a ULP charge filed by AFSCME against the Rauner Administration—returned to the Labor Board on remand from the Appellate Court, which ruled that Rauner violated the law in denying employees their step progression through the pay plan. The court directed the labor board to fashion a remedy.

The Rauner administration had asked the board to send the matter to an administrative law judge for another hearing. AFSCME made a strong and convincing argument that another ALJ hearing would be duplicative and would only delay making state workers whole for the steps they are owed.

The labor board sided with the union, rejecting Rauner’s delay tactic. At its next scheduled meeting in July, the board will formally refer the matter to a compliance officer, at which time AFSCME will immediately petition for a make-whole remedy. The compliance officer will then have 75 days to respond to the union’s petition.

* Illinois News Network

As early as this fall, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois’ lawmakers could see a $412 million hole added to a budget that many say was unbalanced to begin with.

The Illinois Labor Relations Board Tuesday evening denied Rauner’s request to send a ruling on $412 million in step increases that an Illinois court says is owed to 14,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 to an administrative law judge for another hearing.

Rauner froze automatic compounding pay hikes when he took office in 2015, saying lawmakers never appropriated the money. After AFSCME challenged Rauner’s freeze, Illinois courts said those step increases were owed.

Rauner’s office estimates it will cost $412 million for just the four years of higher pay if the state is forced to pay all of the past years’ frozen step increases in the fiscal 2019 budget.

* Meanwhile, Brian Mackey is tweeting about a court hearing on whether AFSCME and the Rauner administration are actually at impasse. You can follow along with our live coverage post.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Exclamation Point Deleted - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 10:52 am:

    I am genuinely curious as to what happens from here on out. Will (or can) Comptroller Mendoza just cut the checks? Would she even want to if it creates that big of a hole in the budget that everyone (including her) has championed for the last 2-3 weeks? Or will this be a repeat of 2011 - which was a much smaller amount and yet took 7 years for payment?

  2. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:00 am:

    The argument heard before the impasse one was the Peter Breen abortion funding appeal.

  3. - Real - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:07 am:

    Great news.

    I guess the Labor board got a little smart now seeing that Rauner’s time is short. They don’t want to look totally bought off.

  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    I hope that it doesn’t take 7 more years
    There are two issues

    1) moving people to the proper Step
    2) Back Pay

  5. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    good for a victory. but we still wait for that Supreme Court decision that will reverberate across the nation.

  6. - Smitty Irving - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    $412 million is All Funds / GRF? Whichever it is, what is the other number?

  7. - Real - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    AFSCME is on a winning streak. It will be funny if the U.S. Supreme court sides with AFSCME on that case. Maybe Rauner should of chose another Union to take to court because AFSCME has good lawyers… But that Supremem court could vote there bias no matter what.

  8. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    homework. apparently the SC may give rulings Thursday. this one?

  9. - Chris Widger - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:19 am:

    ==But that Supremem court could vote there bias no matter what.==

    The choice isn’t “do the right thing” or “vote their bias.” The choice is trying to decide what the First Amendment demands. You can attack the intellectual earnestness and honesty of the justices–it’s a national pastime, and judges are biased people too–but whether they rule for or against Janus, they will be voting their bias.

  10. - don the legend - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:23 am:

    Pity the aide who delivers this news to the union hating governor.

    “Dilly Dilly, to the pit of misery”
    says Rauner.

  11. - Out Here In The Middle - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    Amusing that the administration’s argument continues to be that money was not appropriated when they ran the whole of State government that way for two years.

  12. - Just Askin' - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    Not to be argumentative, but how can Rauner have “illegally withheld” step increases when there has been no union contract signed? Step increases on only granted based on contractual language….

  13. - Real - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:35 am:

    Real- They do have an incredible attorney. Steven Yokich inspired me to aspire to law school. I’m studying for my lsat now. I watched him eviscerate the attorney for the state when we got a stay. Now I want to be a union side attorney.

  14. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:37 am:

    ===Rauner’s office estimates it will cost $412 million for just the four years of higher pay===

    And whose fault is that, Gov. Gaslight? Who refused to abide by the terms of the tolling agreement he signed, thus saddling the state with a $412 million tab to pay off in one fell swoop? Who was that?

    ===saying lawmakers never appropriated the money===

    Who vetoed every 12-month budget sent to his desk three years in a row? Just who did that, Gov. Gaslight? The tooth fairy? Madiganbots who snuck into your office in the middle of the night?

    This is YOUR FAULT. Own it.

  15. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    Sorry Real 11:35 was me. Not sure how that happened

  16. - JMJ - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    The tolling agreement that was signed by AFSCME and The Rauner Administration stated that the old contract would be the contract until a new contract was approved.

  17. - A State Employee Guy - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:56 am:

    Do not go to law school. Not just HB, but everyone.

  18. - Thoughts Matter - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:57 am:

    Just asking -
    I believe the contract says that raises will be given each ‘month value’( let’s say July) for the life of the contract. That’s different than a contract that would list each year explicitly ( July 2013, July 2015, etc). As the previous poster said, the life of the contract can be extended after the expiration date if the parties are negotiating.

  19. - Just Askin' - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:58 am:

    The tolling agreement also said that the union would not initiate a strike, but they were certainly whipping their members into a frenzy about striking last year right about this time.

  20. - JMJ - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:03 pm:

    Thoughts Matter,
    All new employees of the state start on a pay scale. the vary from 1 up to 11 years of steps. Think military, you start as a e-1 and as your experience grows you progress through the payscale. if you stay through all step progressions you cap out at the final step and no more pay increases.

  21. - Thoughts Matter - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    I believe the strike would have only been allowed if the labor board had agreed there was an impasse. Even if that had been declared, the life of the contract would have included the time between the expiration date and the declared impasse date.

  22. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    Does anyone know why AFSCME and CMS dillydallied for a year before briefing the impasse case? It’s either an important case or it isn’t.

  23. - Thoughts Matter - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:06 pm:

    Jmj - I didn’t say they did. They are not arguing about step increases for topped out people. They are requesting step increases for the rest of the people. For example the people who got hired at the bottom steps the year before the contract expired.

  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    ===they were certainly whipping their members into a frenzy about striking last year right about this time===

    Um, remember this 2017 story?: Rauner’s top lawyer talks about using National Guard if AFSCME strikes

  25. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    “- Just Askin’ - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 11:58 am:“

    Rauner get back to work. You know the answers to your questions. You will not be able to fool the people on this blog.

    The State said that they were at an impasse and if the courts did not side with the Union, there would have been a strike. The State was the trigger for the strike vote.

  26. - JMJ - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    Thoughts Matter, thanks for the clarification

  27. - Aldemuvs - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    I wonder if the $412m claim is for all the missed back pay or just the initial increases to put people at their proper step. Maybe back pay can wait?

  28. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:20 pm:

    - Aldemuvs - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    How about you take a pay cut? See, you won’t do what you want others to do.

    Back pay as soon as possible

  29. - Real - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:24 pm:

    Just Askin’ - Wednesday, Jun 13

    Yeah, AFSCME and the whole state will be in another frenzy to vote you out of office.

  30. - Me Again - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    Getting 14,000 active state employees to the proper step (plus longevity pay in some cases) will have to be done on an individual basis. Each employee will need to be provided with details on how that was calculated so they can have an opportunity to challenge it.

    Coming up with the backpay that is owed to 14,000 active employers since July 2015 will also have to be done on an individual basis, with details provided to each employee so they can have an opportunity to challenge it.

    Add in the state employees who left state employment (left for a better job, retired or died) and you have a payroll programming nightmare.

    Will Rauner’s new IT Department (DoIT), who gobbled up all of the 40-plus state payroll systems’ programmers be up to the job? I doubt it.

  31. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    A state employee guy- I’m working every day to go to law school so that I can be a part of stopping wage theft like this. I might not make it but I have the burning faith and passion to try. Who will be the next generation of legal defenders of labor. It’s not about the money. It’s about faith in the cause and about my belief in my capacity to help bring about that faith vision.
    Be cynical all you want. The problem with many attorneys that I see is that they don’t have the heart for it. They were in it for the wrong reasons. Having served in ministry and now public service I feel right with my decision. Someone has to fight legally for those who can’t. I’m for workers not management
    Even Yokich is not from the union frontline. I am frontline
    I know what it is to get screwed by management
    It’s where I get motivation
    It’s where I find faith to try

  32. - George - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 12:54 pm:

    I’m amazed how salaries are based on longevity. If it was based on performance there would be a lot of unhappy people

  33. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:05 pm:

    Me again, Mendoza stated that the calcs are already done and ready to go. All she needs is the voucher from the governor and it will be processed. She told Afscme activists this last month at the Step Up rally in the Capitol. I believe it took her staff weeks to complete the calculations. So all we are waiting on is Rauner.

  34. - Shelby - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:11 pm:

    Maybe when you think “longevity “, you might also think “experience”. Wouldn’t anyone think years of work experience would be worth a higher salary?

  35. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:16 pm:


    I don’t doubt your account but I cannot imagine the Comptroller’s office would have any idea what those amounts are supposed to be. They wouldn’t have the information required to do those calculations.

  36. - Whatever - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:25 pm:

    George @ 12:54 == I’m amazed how salaries are based on longevity. If it was based on performance there would be a lot of unhappy people==

    Exactly right. Take, for example, the merit comp employees who are supposed to get raises based on performance. They have been prohibited by CMS regulation from getting raises or bonuses since the Quinn administration and, as a practical matter, weren’t getting raises since Blago’s first year as governor unless they had some kind of clout. Lots of unhappy people.

  37. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    “they were certainly whipping their members into a frenzy” I would hardly say saying “be prepared in case…” is “whipping into a frenzy.” The Rauner administration was who was banging the drum. Remember when they said AFSCME was definitely going on strike Sept. 1, 2016?

  38. - union proud - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    When the Governor declared impasse the Union was legally permitted to call a strike authorization vote. Then the courts stepped in and issued a stay. Under the stay the governor can’t impose terms and the union can’t strike.

  39. - Me Again - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 1:56 pm:


    The Comptroller only calculates wages for their own employees.

    All other state employee payroll is calculated by the 40-plus agency payroll systems (DHS, HFS, DCFS, etc). These payroll systems are now (mostly) under the control of DoIT, whose programmers (mostly) still sit in their respective agency IT areas.

    Each payroll system sends a file twice a month to the Comptroller, who then runs the file through very rigid edits. Edits include stopping payment for people who are deceased. If the file passes the edits the payments are sent out.

    The Comproller does not guarantee that the amounts for each of these payroll systems are correct. Each payroll system is responsible for making the correct calculations for their own payroll run. There is only one way to get it right. There are many ways to get it wrong.

  40. - Dman - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:01 pm:

    So, 412 million divided by 14000 employees is almost 30,0000 each. So, is even if this is back pay, and wage increases for a year, sounds high

  41. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    Honeybear calls for aid.
    Could someone from the comptrollers office weigh in?
    Help me out Susanna. I’ve canvassed for you several times.
    What’s the straight scoop?
    Maybe I misunderstood
    I’ll always admit error
    But I thought I heard it clearly.

    Dman- 3 years not 1. Since Jan 2015 I believe. Over 10,000 wage theft in my case

  42. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    412mil is the IPI estimate I believe.
    So it probably isn’t that high

  43. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    Damn. It covers 4 years not just one.

  44. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    Sorry Dman Autocorrect got me.

  45. - Steward As Well.... - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    Good news as what was suspected with the court ruling. Pay up deadbeat…

  46. - Me Again - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:22 pm:

    I’ve tried to come up with all of the various scenarios to get 14,000 state employees to the proper step (with longevity pay, if applicable) and compute their back pay since July 2015.

    This includes people who started or ended their state employment anytime in this period and people who changed jobs (including going back and forth between Union and Merit Comp jobs).

    I’ve come up with dozens of scenarios, each of which will require specific programming in each of the 40-plus payroll systems.

    This is why politicians need to think before trying out “new ideas to save money” on payroll.

  47. - Former State Worker - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 2:26 pm:

    George - If raises were based on anything but longevity (the number of years a person is able to hang in there, usually because union rules don’t allow for non-performers to be disciplined or fired), I think there would be a lot more motivation among state workers.

  48. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:10 pm:

    Doesn’t sound so bad when you think about it that way

  49. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:13 pm:

    ==Rauner’s office estimates it will cost $412 million for just the four years of higher pay==

    And 2 1/2 years of back pay will be taxed at the current 4.95% rate, not the 3.75% rate in which it was earned.

  50. - Omay - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    To be fair, the Fed tax should be less on the back pay. Not sure if it is a net gain or net loss overall.

  51. - Steps are.. - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:36 pm:

    Step raises mean if a Job has a top pay of $3000 a month, you don’t start at the top of the pay scale. You start at let’s say $2000 a month and every year you work, you move up a pay step until you get to the target salary. If you do away with steps then you pay everyone full salary from day 1 regardless of the experience. People seem to get this confused with Union negotiated raises. Even management has steps in their salaries.

  52. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:36 pm:

    Omay - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    The point was that Illinois will get more from the higher tax rate on the back pay. The Fed has nothing to do with that point

  53. - Nick Name - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===Does anyone know why AFSCME and CMS dillydallied for a year before briefing the impasse case?===

    Hearings are scheduled by the court, no by the litigants.

  54. - Truthteller - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    = = union rules don’t allow for non-performers to be disciplined or fired)

    If there is an award for dumb comments, I nominate the above.
    Fake news at its worst

  55. - theCardinal - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 4:20 pm:

    The time factors seem to now be by design now, so JB can justify his huge tax increase proposal if he wins. “Sorry didnt want to make it so high but alas the courts gave us no choice”. 6.5% here we come.

  56. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 4:24 pm:

    I could provide payroll with my Excel spreadsheet that tracked the back pay I am owed, which is around $18,000. I’m sure many employees have been keeping track. It was rather depressing looking at it monthly over the last 4 years and knowing financially how much it was effecting my family.

  57. - Ike - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 4:37 pm:

    Cardinal -yup, this is all a conspiracy to raise taxes. Lets include the cost of the Quincy VA home, and anything else you believe to be a part of this conspiracy as well /s

  58. - Fixer - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 4:53 pm:

    Ike, think of it this way: Rauner loses, shortly after having to issue step increases and backpay that blow a significant hole in the budget. He has then laid that at the feet of Pritzker who has to either a)find a new revenue source or b)increase taxes right off the bat. Neither of those are desirable for an incoming governor.

    I’m not calling it some plot or scheme, but I get where theCardinal is coming from on this one.

  59. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 5:05 pm:

    == = = union rules don’t allow for non-performers to be disciplined or fired)

    If there is an award for dumb comments, I nominate the above.
    Fake news at its worst ==

    All those statements are half truths.

    Yes, you can disipline union members … but often not as harshly as needed and expect to see grievances over it, so you better have your paperwork and video records in order.

    Yes, you can fire a union member for non-performance … but in order to do so, you as the manager will be doing nothing else for a year but documenting all the employees failings, doing consoueling, and fighting grievances that will result from the the documentation and consoueling.

    And yes, I understand it needs to partly be this way to prevent neoptism, favoritism, and patronage politics … but it is probably tilted too much in favor a slacker union member.

  60. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 6:00 pm:

    He’s already indicated legal weed as a new revenue source and if that’s how the state gets reimbursed (in part) after paying this debt so be it.

  61. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 6:03 pm:

    Nick, the parties kept seeking extensions once the stay was in effect. Suddenly it wasn’t such a burning issue. Don’t blame the court. The stay was granted in April 2017 and the parties just finished briefing recently.

  62. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 7:45 pm:

    - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 13, 18 @ 5:05 pm:

    Coming from anybody else, I might question it. However, coming from RNUG, I know it is true.

    We have bad management but I am sure that there are some slackers but I am too busy workong to notice.

  63. - Illinois - Thursday, Jun 14, 18 @ 4:34 am:

    Does the State owe Interest for not paying Step Increases? After all, it is a legitimate debt capriciously not paid via lawlessness.

  64. - Steward As Well.... - Thursday, Jun 14, 18 @ 7:58 am:

    I as well enjoy RNUG and his input. Having said that his post on discipline and firing a state worker is not complete.

    “The employer agrees to the tenets of progressive and corrective discipline.” In layman’s terms this simply means tiered discipline which does take time. But if the offense is grave enough one can get fired immediately.

    Also note that both management and the union contractually agreed to these rules.

  65. - Dman - Thursday, Jun 14, 18 @ 8:57 am:

    I am missing soon to be 4 steps, wgich would be the most anybody would be missing. Each step is approx 150 or so a month, so 150 a month for the first year, 300 a month the second year, etc. I came up with a little over 10,000. That amount times 14000 ppl is 141 million. I know my numbers arent perfect, but thats a MUCH different #

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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