Amid Budget Agreement, State Workers to Get Long-Overdue Backpay

Jun 6, 2018

As part of the new Illinois budget, thousands and thousands of state workers will get paid for salary increases they were supposed to get as far back as 2011.

The AFSCME labor union, which represents thousands of state workers, says it agreed to temporarily defer annual raises after the 2008 financial crisis. They later negotiated increases that were supposed to start in 2011, but the General Assembly never approved the spending — until now.

Matt Lukow works for the Illinois Department of Corrections. He says he’s owed a few thousand dollars.

“I feel like, ya know, we kind of gave the state a loan for seven years," Lukow said of the wage deferment. "All of our people[s] continued to work the same as they always have. It’s just, you know, we had this nagging wonder of when we were gonna finally receive the money that we were owed.”

Lukow says finally having the money in hand will be a welcome relief.

"Ya know, I’ve been putting off some home improvement stuff that I’ll be able to take care of now,” he explained.

When Governor Bruce Rauner signed the budget on Monday, he called the years-long delay “unfair and not right.” But the backpay is not the only money AFSCME members are owed. Rauner and the legislature are not approving money for longevity raises known as step increases.

UPDATE: AFSCME Council 31 Director Roberta Lynch submitted a letter to Gov. Rauner on Wednesday asking his office to "immediately direct [his] agencies to prepare vouchers for the full amount of back wages," including the step increases.