Illinois unions file suit against state to secure state worker wages

ST. CLAIR COUNTY — According to a press release issued Thursday night, unions representing state employees Thursday took two steps to ensure that public service workers in state government will be paid on time and in full for their work, even in the absence of a state budget for the 2016 fiscal year that started Wednesday.

First, 13 unions filed suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court, arguing that the state’s failure to pay employees their full wages under their unions’ respective collective bargaining agreements would be an impairment of contract.

“State employees are now pawns in the political dispute over the state budget,” the unions said in their filing. “They and their families deserve better.”

The 13 unions are the:

  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31;
  • Illinois Troopers Lodge No. 41, Fraternal Order of Police;
  • Illinois Nurses Association;
  • Illinois Federation of Public Employees, Local 4408 IFT-AFT;
  • Illinois Federation of Teachers, Local 919;
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers;
  • Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council;
  • Laborers International Union of North America – ISEA Local 2002;
  • Service Employees International Union, Local 73;
  • SEIU Health Care Illinois & Indiana;
  • SEIU Local 1;
  • Teamsters Local Union No. 705, Affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; and
  • Conservation Police Lodge of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association.

A court date in St. Clair County has not yet been set.

In addition, AFSCME and other unions intervened in Cook County Circuit Court to represent the interests of state employees in a case in which the Attorney General is seeking declaratory judgment that state employees can be paid no more than minimum wage, pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The unions contend that since the state Department of Central Management Services and the Comptroller have indicated that it is not feasible for the state to alter its payroll to conform with the FLSA, then the court should order the state to continue paying employees on time and in full, as it did in a similar circumstance in 2007.

A status hearing in the Cook County case is scheduled for Tuesday, July 7.