July 21, 2011
Governor Pat Quinn’s plan to cancel pay raises for State of Illinois unionized workers due to insufficient funds in the FY2012 budget has hit a major hurdle.
The plan, which would have affected 30,000 members of Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) across 14 state agencies, would have violated a union contract, according to a ruling on July 19, 2011 by independent arbitrator Edwin Benn. Governor Quinn said that the cost of the raises, estimated at $75 million, was not included in the budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly back in May 2011. The legislature reportedly skimped on personnel appropriations in order to force the governor to eliminate positions.
According to a July 1, 2011 memo to agency directors, personnel managers, labor relations administrators and payroll managers from Malcolm Weems, Illinois Department of Central Management Services Acting Director, that was cited in Benn’s report, “the budget that was passed by the General Assembly and sent to the Governor DOES NOT contain appropriation authority to implement cost of living adjustments, longevity adjustments or step increases for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.”
AFSCME has agreed to a number of concessions to avoid layoffs in recent years, including deferring wage increases in the four-year contract that runs through FY2012. After the deferrals, AFSCME workers were scheduled to receive a 2% raise on July 1, 2011, a 1.25% raise on January 1, 2012 and a 2% raise on February 1, 2012. In its analysis of the Governor’s FY2012 proposed budget, the Civic Federation recommended that the State reopen negotiations to curtail the salary increases.
The arbitrator’s decision is based on the State’s decision not to pay the scheduled 2% raise on July 1. The arbitrator ruled that the State must keep its promise to employees. Governor Quinn is expected to file an appeal of the arbitrator’s ruling.
In June Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said that because of the possibility of higher-than-expected tax revenues in FY2012, the General Assembly may be able to address underfunded areas of the budget later in the year.