AFSCME has won another round in the battle for payment of step increases that Gov. Bruce Rauner has illegally frozen since July 1, 2015.
When bargaining for a new state contract got underway in 2015, the law required that current conditions of employment remain in place – including movement through the state’s pay plan schedule. But Rauner ignored that requirement and acted unilaterally to impose a freeze on step increases for public service employees.
AFSCME members challenged that action in appellate court and won. Last November, the 5th District Appellate Court ruled that the Rauner administration violated the law when it refused to continue paying step increases after the expiration date of the union contract. The court found that employees are owed step increases and remanded the case back to the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB) for a remedy.
That ruling was put on hold when the Rauner administration filed a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court denied the Rauner administration’s petition for leave to appeal. So the decision of the 5th District Appellate Court that the steps are owed stands and no further appeal is possible.
Now, pursuant to the appellate court’s order, the case will be remanded to the Labor Board to devise a remedy. Rauner has claimed that the state cannot afford to pay the step increases and may even try to influence the Labor Board’s final order in that regard.
AFSCME will urge the Board to act swiftly to ensure that all state employees receive the step increases they are owed and deserve.