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Judge Blocks Illinois Prison Layoffs

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (CN) - A judge has stopped the state from laying off workers at a prison it plans to close this year. It's the latest decision in a series of lawsuits the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed over the closing of the Pontiac Correctional Center.

The AFSCME represents Pontiac's 570 employees. Livingston County Judge R. Michael Travers issued the temporary restraining order after the AFSCME said the Department of Corrections did not bargain with it before sending layoff notices to Pontiac employees. Travers blocked any layoffs until the union's grievances are arbitrated.

The AFSCME has filed three lawsuits over the state's plan to close Pontiac. Last week, a judge in Johnson County barred the state from moving inmates out of Pontiac until one of the other lawsuits is resolved.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said the move would save the state $2 million a year as it faces a budget deficit of $2 billion.

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