AFSCME To Ask Supreme Court For Do-Over, As Broader Paycheck Ramifications Loom

Mar 28, 2016

Credit WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will be asked to re-visit an opinion it just issued March 24. State employees' salaries are at stake. 

Thousands of members of AFSCME, Illinois' biggest government labor union, are still waiting for pay raises their contract guaranteed back in 2011. It amounts to an average of $2,500 per employee.

The court's decision says if, and only if, legislators pass a law funding it can workers get that money.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says within the next few weeks, the union will take advantage of an option that allows it petition for a do-over.

"A case could be reheard by the Supreme Court if we can show that certain arguments were overlooked, or they were misapplied," he said.

The case could also have ramifications for the current budget impasse, as government workers are being paid even though there's no law authorizing it.

Employees have lower-court judges in St. Clair and Cook counties to thank for allowing the comptroller to keep cutting their checks. That's in part because they're under contract. There's also a federal law that requires certain workers get a minimum wage, no matter what, and the comptroller has said her office's outdated computer systems means it would take months to sort that out.

The Capitol Fax blog is reporting that Attorney General Lisa Madigan is preparing to go to court to ask that last week's ruling on back pay be extended.

Lindall says AFSCME's attorneys are preparing to respond in the event a suit if filed on those grounds.

"We'll be prepared to defend the principle that if you go to work, do your job, you should be paid what you're owed," he said.

Lindall says last week's ruling should be construed narrowly, and shouldn't apply beyond the union's last collective bargaining agreement with Illinois government.

But Monday, a spokeswoman from the Attorney General's office would only say last week's AFSCME/back pay opinion is under review.