July 31, 2018

Rauner tries to evade ruling that step increases should be paid

After an appellate court agreed with AFSCME that the Rauner administration had illegally withheld state employee step increases since July 2015, the case was remanded back to the Illinois Labor Relations Board to order a remedy. At its last meeting, the board gave Rauner 20 days to submit a plan to restore employees to their rightful steps.

On July 31, the Rauner Administration submitted a response that makes clear the governor is once again trying to delay and deprive state employees of full restitution for his step freeze.

Specifically, the Rauner administration is claiming that:

  1. It is only obligated to pay steps from July 1, 2015, until January 8, 2016, when the administration walked away from contract negotiations, claiming that the parties were at an impasse;
  2. Step increases are subject to appropriations (citing the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2011 back pay case) and no funds have been appropriated for that purpose;
  3. Some agencies may not have enough appropriations to put employees on the right step going forward; and
  4. No payments at all should be made until the impasse dispute—currently before the Fourth District Appellate Court—is decided.

AFSCME strongly disagrees with the Rauner Administration’s proposal and will file an objection, instead urging that all employees are immediately restored to their proper step and paid the back wages owed. [UPDATE: The union filed a petition for compliance with the ILRB on Aug. 2.]

There are no grounds for the administration’s claim that the appellate court ruling only applies through January 2016. The tolling agreement which continued the current terms and conditions of employment has been in effect since July 2015 and remains in effect today, as the administration has acknowledged.

What’s more, the need for appropriation authority (as in the back pay case) does not apply to the step case because the back pay case arose from a violation of the contract but Rauner’s failure to pay steps is a violation of state law.

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