Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the AFSCME union continue to be at odds over raises owed to thousands of state workers.
The Rauner administration had an October 1 deadline to comply with an Illinois Labor Relations Board order to get workers on the correct salary level. But the governor’s staff says more time is needed to calculate just how much to pay—and who to pay. AFSCME is calling the extension request a “frivolous delay”.
The state stopped awarding automatic raises, known as step increases, to union workers in 2015, when the last AFSCME contract expired. The increases are automatic raises given to workers in the first seven to 10 years of their careers. AFSCME says the raises should have continued.
AFSCME and the administration also disagree over how much step pay is owed. A Rauner spokeswoman said a labor compliance officer has acknowledged there are legal questions left to explore, “including the time period for which step increases are owed.” A hearing to address these concerns has been ordered, but a date has not been set, she said.
The courts have yet to help clarify if the administration owes step pay after Jan. 8, 2016, when Rauner declared to be at impasse over contract talks with AFSCME. The administration argues they don’t owe anything, but the union has said the state owes payments up to present day.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza – a Democrat—said in a Chicago press conference Thursday, the governor’s delay will only burden tax payers.
“Illinois will end up paying 7 percent interest on these wages. That’s on top of the over one billion dollars in late payment interest penalties that he’s already left tax payers stuck paying that tab,” she said.
Roberta Lynch, executive director for AFSCME, said the union wants the courts to issue a direct order. Lynch said the union filed a motion earlier in the week with the Illinois Labor Relations Board asking for the issue to be taken back to the appellate court.
Rauner’s office said they will continue working with the Illinois Labor Relations Board to get employees paid.