Even as the Quinn Administration is asking the Appellate Court to overturn a Circuit Court ruling requiring the state to pay employees the money they are owed, a new development opens up the prospect of some employees receiving at least partial payment in the near future.
Months ago, AFSCME attorneys demonstrated to the presiding judge, Richard Billik, that the state did in fact have unspent funds in the 2012 budget that could be used toward the raises, though not nearly enough to pay all that is owed.
At the union’s request and over the objections of the Quinn Administration, Judge Billik last fall ordered that those funds be put in escrow so they could not be spent for other purposes. When the judge issued his ruling in early December, he said that the escrowed funds should be paid out to employees for wages owed as soon as a plan for dispersal could be developed and approved by the court.
However, the Quinn Administration requested and received a stay of the judge’s order pending a decision by the Appellate Court, so the funds were left on hold.
Now there’s another twist in this very convoluted case. Last week the Administration relented and agreed to stop fighting to prevent the monies held in escrow from being paid out now. On Friday, Jan. 18, Circuit Court Judge Rudolpho Garcia—now handling the case in place of Judge Billik, who retired—lifted the portion of the stay pertaining to the funds that are in escrow.
The actual timing of the payments and the method of dispersal has still not been determined. Here’s the best information we have at this time:
In all, there is approximately $42 million held in escrow. These monies could be paid out within the coming months.
A large portion of these dollars are either federal funds or non-GRF funds allocated to specific programs and so can only be used to pay employees who work in those programs.
This means that some employees could be paid in full, while many others would receive only a small portion of what they are owed.
It’s important to note that Governor Quinn is continuing to appeal Judge Billik’s ruling that the state must pay the full raise to all employees, and that interest will continue to accrue until such time as it does so.
While paying out the escrow funds is undoubtedly a positive development, it still does not represent true justice for every AFSCME member. Justice will prevail only when all employees get the full amount of wages to which they are entitled under the union contract. The union will continue to fight until that goal is realized.
Via: Afscme Council 31