January 27, 2017

AFSCME will return to court to oppose AG action to deny pay

AFSCME is prepared to return to court in opposition to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion to block payroll for state employees.

Filed on January 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, the motion would dissolve the preliminary injunction that AFSCME secured nearly two years ago to ensure that state employees would continue to be paid despite the state’s budget standoff. AFSCME is prepared to pursue every available legal means to halt this action. 

"Despite all the chaos in state government in the past two years, the people of Illinois have been able to count on state employees being on the job to serve them,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a statement. “The last thing Illinois needs is the further instability that blocking state payroll could cause.”

The Attorney General is justifying her action by citing the urgent need for a resolution of the state budget stalemate.

Such a resolution is long overdue. That’s why AFSCME has repeatedly called on Governor Rauner to end his insistence that enactment of a state budget must be tied to his personal political agenda of weakening workers’ rights.

However, the need for a budget resolution can in no way justify the Attorney General’s harmful and irresponsible legal maneuver.

"Governor Rauner created this hostage situation by refusing to enact a fully funded budget unless his unrelated personal demands were enacted first,” Lynch said. “He should put aside those demands and do his job to work toward a budget without preconditions. Even so, we are shocked and extremely disappointed that the Attorney General would take this action. It is fundamental that everyone who works must be paid on time and in full, but this filing throws that basic commitment into question for state employees."

AFSCME has said repeatedly that state employees do not want to see a shutdown of state government. Our union has done everything possible to avert a strike. But AFSCME members are determined to resist the governor’s efforts to impose his terms—which would set thousands of working families back for many years to come.

That’s why state employees will hold a Strike Authorization Vote to give their Bargaining Committee the power to call a strike if that becomes the only recourse to gain fair treatment and respect.

Rauner is publicly claiming to be a friend of state employees, saying he wants to make sure they get paid. But after nearly two years of unremitting hostility toward state employees—it’s clear he is willing to do everything possible to inflict damage to their working conditions and economic security. His phony sympathy is nothing but an effort to protect his own position in the state budget battle.

“State employees are on the job every day providing vital services that Illinois citizens depend on—often under difficult, even dangerous, conditions,” Lynch said. “It is deeply disturbing when it appears that our state’s political leaders see these public service workers as no more than pawns in their games—failing to respect or value their vital work.”

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