June 14, 2019

Back pay for steps to get underway

AFSCME members never quit battling for justice since ousted governor Bruce Rauner illegally froze employee step increases on July 1, 2015. Finally—after waiting nearly four years—state of Illinois employees are receiving paychecks representing their proper step placement. And they are set to get their back pay via a budget appropriation included in the FY 2020 state budget.

The Pritzker Administration told the union that the back pay will be paid as soon as possible, with the goal of have all payouts completed by the end of September. To ensure speedy reimbursement of the back pay, the court-ordered 7% interest payment will follow at a later date after calculations are made for each employee.

It’s been a long fight. AFSCME first filed unfair labor practice charges with the Labor Board in 2015, then took the case to appellate court where a three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the step increases were owed. Then the case went back to the Labor Board, which was charged with shaping the remedy.

Rauner kept fighting against fairness, using every legal maneuver in the book to deny employees their wages.

AFSCME kept fighting back. The union used every tool at its disposal. Members picketed at worksites, rallied at the state Capitol and joined the entire Illinois labor movement in working to defeat Bruce Rauner at the polls last fall. On November 8, Rauner lost to JB Pritzker by the largest margin seen in any gubernatorial election in decades.

From the outset, Gov. Pritzker recognized the need to comply with court and labor board rulings. As one of his first acts in office, he directed that all employees be placed on their proper step, including longevity steps, effective April 1.

The Pritzker Administration kept that pledge—helping thousands of union members begin to get their family finances back on track.

Pritzker also pledged to pay the back pay with interest owed due to the freeze and AFSCME pressed for a back-pay appropriation to be included in the final budget. On June 1 that funding was approved by the state legislature.

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