Gov. Pat Quinn has announced plans to cut planned raises earmarked for state employees as a means to help ease the state's budget woes. The governor sent out notices to employee unions and 14 state agencies saying that the contractual 2 percent raises will not be paid out because lawmakers did not allocate enough funds for the pay increases in the state budget.
"If the state paid these increases, the impacted agencies would not be able to make payroll for the entire fiscal year, preventing them from continuing operations and providing core services to the people of Illinois," Quinn's spokeswoman Mica Matsoff said in a statement. The governor's office added that 30,000 state workers would be affected by the move, which would save more than $75 million.
But AFSCME is not taking the governor's announcement lying down. AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer released the following statement in response:
With his illegal and irresponsible actions today, Governor Pat Quinn has trampled on the collective bargaining process and broken his contract with the men and women who do the real work of state government. These tens of thousands of Illinois state employees care for disabled veterans, risk their lives in state prisons, monitor paroled convicts, protect children from abuse and neglect, rush to assist in disasters, and much more.
They fulfill their responsibilities to the citizens of this state, and they deserve to know that their employer, the governor, will honor the commitments made to them. Instead, Governor Quinn has shown that he lacks basic respect for the work they do. He has acted unilaterally and in clear contravention of union contracts to void modest, negotiated increases for frontline state employees, despite handing out 25 and 50 percent raises to his own inner circle.
At the request of Governor Quinn, AFSCME members agreed to significant steps to help address the state’s budget woes. Under negotiated cost-savings agreements reached at the bargaining table, three times in the last 18 months they deferred scheduled increases, and thousands have taken unpaid furlough days.
Today Pat Quinn has shown that his signature on such negotiated agreements is not worth the paper it’s printed on. Further, the governor defends his actions with the flimsiest of legal rationales. The General Assembly neither directed him to violate a collective bargaining agreement nor has the power to do so.
Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Chris Christie of New Jersey and others have recently sought changes in law to eliminate the right of collective bargaining for public employees. By choosing to simply ignore a legally binding agreement, Pat Quinn has sunk even lower. Not only is Quinn’s assault on public employee collective bargaining unprecedented in the four decades of state employee bargaining in Illinois, given his repeated criticism of Walker and others, it is utterly hypocritical.
AFSCME will aggressively pursue every available legal recourse to ensure that the collective bargaining agreement is honored and employees are paid according to their contract.