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Phelps Introduces Bill Authorizing Back Pay Owed to Correctional Officers, Emergency Responders and other State Workers

State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, introduced legislation late Friday to appropriate over $63 million in back pay for state workers following the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision last week to vacate a previous decision requiring the state to pay the owed wages.

“Last week’s ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court denying rightly owed back pack was yet another setback for the hard-working police officers, emergency responders and other state employees who are vital to Southern Illinois’ economy,” Phelps said. “As soon as I heard about the decision, I got to work on finding a solution and introduced legislation to provide the funding for the wages owed to these workers. These folks are our family, friends and neighbors and they all put in an honest day’s work and earned every penny of that back pay.”

Last Thursday the Illinois Supreme Court vacated a previous decision by an arbitrator to award the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) $63 million in previously negotiated wages. The court ruled that the back pay was subject to the General Assembly appropriating the necessary funds to pay for the owed wages. In 2011, then-Governor Pat Quinn decided to withhold the negotiated pay raises for several unions after which an independent arbitrator and lower court judge ruled  that Quinn’s decision violated their contract agreement and the state must pay the money.

According to AFSCME almost 24,000 state workers in Illinois are affected by this ruling, losing out on over $2,000 each. Phelps believes that the state is violating a previous contract and should honor their end of the bargain. The Harrisburg lawmaker’s legislation, House Bill 6425, would appropriate the money for the back pay.

“Many of these workers live right here in Southern Illinois and provide critical services for our region. It is absolutely unacceptable to deny them their hard-earned wages,” Phelps said. “I will not stop fighting until these hard-working people are given the money they are owed. The state made a commitment to them when they signed that contract, and we should honor that promise and pay them for the work they have done.”

Brandon Phelps represents the 118th District in the Illinois General Assembly, which includes all or portions of Alexander, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, and Union counties.