AFSCME calls on Gov. Rauner to give workers required step increa - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

AFSCME calls on Gov. Rauner to give workers required step increases, back pay

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CHICAGO -- Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and union leaders blasted Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday morning, saying he was costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars by not paying contractually-required raises to state workers. 

"Just out of sheer vindictiveness toward those employees, he is driving up the bills of the state," said Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Council 31.

At Rauner’s command, Illinois stopped providing step increases to workers after the state’s last contract with AFSCME expired in June, 2015. 

Those increases were automatic raises given to workers during the first 7-10 years of their of their careers. 

An appeals court ruled workers were entitled to those step raises and back pay and the Illinois Labor Relations Board said workers needed to be restored to their proper pay level by October 1, a deadline that’s now passed without action. 

Mendoza says the feet-dragging is costing the state seven percent interest on whatever payments are required. 

"Paying workers the wages that they are owed is the morally correct thing to, but in this case it’s also the fiscally responsible action to take," Mendoza said.

Currently the two sides disagree over how much step pay is owed to workers. 

Rauner’s administration says it doesn’t owe anything after January 8, 2016, when it declared an impasse in its contract with AFSCME.

 The union says the state needs to make payments through the present day. 

That battle is still being played out in court. 

A spokesperson for the Governor said the owed salary increases would be paid once that disagreement is resolved. 

Still, Mendoza says its past time.

"Enough is enough," she said. "It’s October 11. These employees deserve to paid. A contract should be a contract and it should be honored no matter who it’s with or who it’s from."

The cost of back pay on the missed step increases is projected to be more than $400 million.

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