June 30, 2014

Quinn signs partial back-pay bill

Governor Quinn has signed House Bill 3793, a special appropriation bill that includes funding for a portion of the back wages owed to state employees for negotiated wage increases withheld in FY 12 and FY 13.

Over the past three years, employees in most agencies received all of the back wages they were owed. However, there were not sufficient funds available for these payments in five agencies (DHS, DOC, DJJ, DNR and DPH).

AFSCME has been lobbying intensively for the past two years to pass a special supplemental appropriation for the $112 million that would allow for payment of 100% of the back wages owed. Based on the agreement reached with the settlement of the last state contract, the Quinn Administration joined the union in pressing for passage of the appropriation.

This spring, AFSCME members intensified their efforts with call-in days and local union Back Pay Brigades that travelled to Springfield every day during the final weeks of the legislative session. The challenge got a lot tougher when legislators failed to act to extend the state income tax rates currently in place. The state budget went into freefall and legislators began cutting dollars from the FY 15 proposed budget.

But AFSCME kept pushing, and in the final days of session, the union succeeded in winning passing of HB 3793, which appropriates $50 million for partial payment of the back wages still owed in those five agencies, approximately 45% of the total amount owed.

With the governor's signature, the bill becomes law, and all employees still owed back pay will receive a portion of the amount they are owed. AFSCME has called on the state to begin issuing payment to employees as quickly as possible. DCMS estimates that these payments will be completed no later than August 31.

In the coming weeks, thousands of AFSCME members will be receiving hundreds or even thousands of dollars as a result of the intensive campaign the union has waged. And AFSCME is determined to continue the fight until all employees receive full payment of the amount they are owed.

The union is still fighting in court, opposing the Attorney General’s efforts to overturn a Circuit Court ruling that wage increase owed pursuant to a negotiated union contract must be paid. And when the General Assembly reconvenes for its fall veto session, AFSCME will renew the lobbying effort to convince legislators to appropriate the remainder of the funds owed to employees. The fight will continue until every employee receives every dollar due!

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