SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – Two labor unions asked a federal judge to overturn Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to freeze the pay of some 500 public throughout the state.
The cuts were part of $376 million in budget cuts that Quinn implemented by line-item veto. The salary freezes are expected to trim $75 million from the state’s budget.
Quinn said the cuts were necessary to help with the state’s $11 billion budget deficit.
But the unions say other budget-saving measures could have been taken, including using hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpended appropriations, slowing the procedure for filling vacant positions, or imposing a freeze on filling vacant positions and transferring funds for personal services.
Local 4408 of The Illinois Federation of Public Employees, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO, and Local 919 of The Illinois Federation of Teachers sued Quinn and Malcolm Weeks, the acting director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. The unions say the pay freezes are not reasonable or necessary to achieve an important public purpose.
“The employees represented by Local 4408 who are subject to the pay freeze have a contractual right to receive the 4 percent general wage increase scheduled for July 1, 2011, pursuant to the 2008-2012 collective bargaining agreements,” the complaint states.
“The employees represented by Local 919 also have a contractual right to receive a 4 percent general wage increase on August 16, 2011, pursuant to their 2008-2012 collective bargaining agreement.
“The employees represented by Local 4408 who are subject to the pay freeze have a contractual right to receive step and longevity increases pursuant to the 200 -2012 collective bargaining agreements. The employees represented by Local 919 who are subject to the pay freeze have a contractual right to receive step and lane increases pursuant to their 2008-2012 collective bargaining agreement.
“The pay freeze imposed by Defendants Quinn and Weems has substantially impaired the contractual rights set forth above, in violation of Article 1, Section 10, of the United States Constitution.”
The unions also want the defendants prohibited from further actions that impair collective bargaining agreements with state employees.
The unions are represented by Stephen Yokich of Cornfield and Feldman in Chicago.
Elsewhere in the state, other unions are protesting Quinn’s pay-freeze decision.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) began informational pickets at five places in Southern Illinois on Wednesday.
Some 30,000 AFSCME workers were scheduled to receive a 2 percent raise before the pay freeze took affect.