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Important update for state workers

7/10/2015

BREAKING NEWS 7.17.15
Great news for state workers! A State Appellate Court on Friday reversed an earlier decision by a lower court, eliminating conflicting orders and clearing the way for state employees to continue to be paid on time and in full even though a FY 2016 budget is not in place.

Earlier this month, a Cook County Court had ruled that without a budget in place, only certain state workers could be paid, and only minimum wage under federal law. A ruling in St. Clair County Court on a lawsuit filed by the IFT and other unions conflicted with that decision and said that state workers must be paid on time and in full during the budget impasse. (See below)

Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office appealed the conflicting decisions on Monday and asked for a ruling from the State Supreme Court. In light of the appellate court reversal, the state's highest court will now not intervene. 

The AG's office continues to assert that the state constitution does not allow payments to be made to state workers without a budget in place for the fiscal year, which began July 1. Madigan has said there will likely be additional legal proceedings.

In the meantime, the Comptroller will continue to pay employees on time and in full until a budget agreement is reached.


UPDATE 7.14.15
As expected, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed appeals on July 13 to block a Circuit Court order requiring the Comptroller to pay state employees in full despite the budget impasse.
 
The AG has asked the Fifth District Appellate court to overturn last week’s St. Clair County Circuit Court ruling to pay employees in full and on time. Madigan’s office also filed an emergency motion with the Illinois Supreme Court seeking consolidation of the conflicting orders issued last week in St. Clair and Cook County, where a judge ruled that without a FY16 budget, only certain employees can be paid, and payments cannot exceed the minimum wage pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The IFT, AFSCME, and other unions appealed that decision last week (see story below).
 
The Attorney General’s office issued the following statement about the appeals.

“We absolutely want State employees to be paid their full wages. But we must follow the Illinois Constitution. The law is clear: the State cannot legally pay all employees their full paychecks without a budget. Because there are now conflicting court orders on this critical constitutional issue, we have asked the Illinois Supreme Court to take the appeals in the cases and resolve them. The Court can provide important guidance on what the Constitution allows when the Governor and Legislature have failed to act. Ultimately, as we have repeatedly said, the only way to fully resolve this unfortunate and damaging situation is for the Governor and the Legislature to do their jobs and enact a budget.” 

Our union coalition has until July 20 to respond to the Supreme Court regarding the AG’s motion.

In the interim, Comptroller Munger has begun processing state employee payroll pursuant to the St. Clair Circuit Court order, and most state employees are expected to be paid on time.


Keep watching ift-aft.org for updates.


A labor coalition including the Illinois Federation of Teachers and 12 other unions representing public service workers in state government won a court ruling yesterday that ensures Illinois state employees will be paid on time and in full even though the Governor and General Assembly still have yet to pass a budget. Our coalition argued failure to pay workers would be an impairment of the collective bargaining agreements between unions and the State.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Robert LeChien granted our request and issued a temporary restraining order directing State Comptroller Leslie Munger to pay all state employees. We expect the Attorney General to appeal the current decision.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law and the people of Illinois,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. "This temporary order means that once again, the courts have sided with the citizens and against efforts to strip hard-working women and men of their constitutional and contractual rights. The people who care for others and keep our communities safe deserve to be compensated in full for the important work they do. We are gratified by this decision that allows them to pay their bills and provide for their families, and we hope that this ruling is upheld as it proceeds through the court system."

Earlier on Thursday, the Illinois House voted to pass SB 2040, a $2.2 billion, 30-day emergency budget bill to ensure state workers and social service agencies would continue to be paid and receive healthcare benefits, even though a FY16 budget is not yet in place.

All 71 House Democrats were present and voted yes, providing the three-fifths vote needed to pass it in that chamber. Not a single Republican supported the bill.

The bill now moves back to the Senate, where a three-fifths majority vote is required.

Neither of these measures would be necessary if Governor Rauner would stop playing politics with the budget. He continues to insist that lawmakers pass non-budget related, anti-worker measures before he will agree to fund the critical services upon which Illinois families depend.

Before the court order, Governor Rauner vowed to veto the emergency budget bill. A three-fifths majority vote in each chamber can override the veto.

Update - Treasurer Frerichs has partnered with credit unions to help state workers during budget impasse - click here for details.

Whether in court or in Springfield, the IFT will continue to fight tirelessly on your behalf and keep you posted of developments.  The state budget and legal situations are fluid, so please keep an eye on ift-aft.org and stay in touch with your local leadership and staff for updates as they become available.

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