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Union calls on state to pay back wages

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The largest state employee union is calling on lawmakers to make room in next year’s budget for back pay owed to more than 24,000 state employees.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is pushing for a supplemental appropriation to pay an estimated $112 million in back wages owed to employees who didn’t receive pay wage increases obligated in their union contracts from July 2011 to July 2013 because no money was appropriated for the increases by the General Assembly.

An arbitrator and a circuit court ruled the wages are owed to the employees; the judge said payment of back wages would be dependent on the Legislature’s appropriating money to pay for them.

The General Assembly has yet to approve money for the payment.

State Rep. John Bradley, who previously sponsored legislation for money to pay the back wages, said the issue will likely “be a part of the budget negotiations and considered as part of the appropriations process” again this year.

In order to show the potential economic impact of the unpaid wages, AFSCME released amounts owed to workers in various regions around the state: more than $21 million in back wages are owed to 3,800 employees in Southern Illinois.

“This isn’t just about paying state government’s oldest unpaid bill, it’s putting money into the southern Illinois economy,” AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said in the organization’s news release. “That’s going to make a positive contribution to the whole southern region when it’s spent in local stores and small businesses.”

State employees affected by the issue will be calling legislators this week, urging passage of House and Senate bills allocating the money.


On Twitter: @beckymalkovich


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