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Illinois Governor Ends Pay Freeze for State Workers

January 21, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Jan. 15 that the state will pay about 20,000 workers raises that had been frozen for four years by his predecessor. The decision will give them “step increases” for longevity on the job that previous Gov. Bruce Rauner cut off when American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31’s contract with the state expired in 2015. Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch called the announcement “important progress toward ending Bruce Rauner’s illegal four-year freeze on step progression for state employees.” Pritzker, however, did not say how the state would pay for the increases or whether they would be retroactive to 2015. Rauner’s administration, which defied a court order to give the workers the increases, estimated last year they would cost between $170 million and $500 million. Illinois Republican Party Chair Tim Schneider accused Pritzker of making “reckless spending promises.” “It’s critical that the state also move quickly to make employees whole for the wages they have been wrongfully denied since 2015,” Lynch said. A Pritzker spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times that the issue would be addressed in contract talks with Council 31. Read more

January 21, 2019

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