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AFSCME scores victory in pay dispute with Quinn administration

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SPRINGFIELD-A Cook County judge ruled in favor of AFSCME Council 31in a pay dispute with Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, determining Friday that the state must pay wages to 30,000 state workers that the governor has withheld since July 2011.

The governor had promised pay increases to state government's largest employee union but then pulled back, saying the General Assembly had failed to appropriate enough money to cover the pay increases the administration negotiated with the union.

But Cook County Circuit Judge Richard Billik ruled the state is bound by the contract Quinn's administration negotiated with AFSCME and even if the funds don't exist now, workers eventually must be paid what they were promised.

"This ruling is a strong affirmation of the union's clear and simple position: Employees must be paid the wages they are owed, and a contract cannot be unilaterally discarded," AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said in a prepared statement.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the administration intends to appeal the ruling.

Earlier, Billik had ordered that the state set aside any unused funds from the 2012 fiscal year and with Friday's ruling now has said those funds must be put into trust and not accessed except for pay raises. An additional ruling is expected spelling out how that money will be distributed.

The decision impacts unionized workers in the Illinois Departments of Corrections, Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Natural Resources and Public Health. The Human Rights Commission also is covered.

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