The largest state employee union is heading to court in a bid to at least delay the layoff of hundreds of state workers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 filed suit Monday in Johnson County circuit court to block layoffs, an initial round of which are set to go into effect September 30.
The largest state employee union is heading to court in a bid to at least delay the layoff of hundreds of state workers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 filed suit Monday in Johnson County circuit court to block layoffs, an initial round of which are set to go into effect September 30. Vienna Correctional Center is located in Johnson County.
The union is asking that the layoffs be stopped until a series of grievances filed by the union over the layoffs are resolved.
“AFSCME and our members are using every tool to prevent layoffs and the harm they will cause,” said Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer in a written statement.
“Frontline staff shortages have already eroded the timeliness and quality of basic services and resulted in more than $100 million in overtime, much of it forced, in the last fiscal year alone. Layoffs will make those problems worse.”
Gov. Pat Quinn said the state's fiscal problems will force the layoff of 2,600 workers, 1,000 of them from the Department of Corrections alone. About 500 workers are scheduled to be laid off September 30.
In its lawsuit, AFSCME said the state is illegally proceeding with the layoffs without bargaining with the union, as required by the AFSCME contract. The union said the layoffs will create an unsafe working environment at state prisons, also a violation of the union contract. Finally, AFSCME said state work is being farmed out to private contractors in violation of the contract.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said the state has hired outside workers to perform clerical duties while also targeting clerical jobs for elimination at state agencies. The Department of Revenue sends data entry work to a private contractor while layoffs are being planned at the agency, Lindall said.
The union has filed grievances over these issues, which it wants resolved before the administration is allowed to proceed with layoffs.
Lindall said it is impossible to determine how long it might take to resolve the grievances.
No hearing date for the lawsuit has been set.
Quinn's office issued a statement declining specific comment on the lawsuit.
“Governor Pat Quinn and members of his senior staff will work constructively with AFSCME leadership and union members to help rescue our state from its fiscal crisis,” the statement said. “The Governor and union leaders will formally come to the bargaining table in early September. In order to restore Illinois' fiscal health, Governor Quinn is instituting a cost-reduction plan that calls for shared sacrifice among state agencies and their employees.”
In addition to layoffs, Quinn wants all state workers to take 12 unpaid days off from their jobs. That issue also must be negotiated with union members.
Quinn's also broached the idea of a wage freeze as a way to reduce the number of layoffs.
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.