SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – A Southern Illinois judge has halted the layoff of 2,600 state employees – including 1,000 prison workers. Johnson County Judge Todd Lambert issued an injunction that stopped Gov. Pat Quinn’s layoffs of union employees set to take effect today (Wednesday).
Lambert found that the layoffs violated a contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Lambert also ruled that the layoffs could create a dangerous situation in prisons; therefore the matter must be taken to arbitration.
Quinn’s administration plans to appeal. The layoffs were part of Quinn’s attempt to reduce a multibillion-dollar state budget deficit. Quinn estimated the layoffs would save the state $112 million.
Quinn has said the state is facing a “financial emergency.”
“Illinois is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis and budget reductions must be made, including cuts to the state’s administrative and personnel costs,” Quinn said in a statement. “Our plan includes responsible layoffs that do not jeopardize public safety.”
The Vienna Correctional Center is in Johnson County, which is 110 miles southeast of St. Louis.
The union claims the layoffs, which include 1,000 Department of Corrections employees, would endanger the remaining workers.
The ruling does not mean the layoffs will not happen, but sending the matter to arbitration could delay the layoffs for months.