New budget may render AFSCME injunction over state worker pay moot

Amelia Flood Jul. 16, 2009, 6:15am

An injunction filed by the union representing most of Illinois' state workers may become a much ado about nothing as lawmakers passed an emergency state budget on the same day a proposed injunction was removed from St. Clair Circuit Court to federal court in East St. Louis.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) filed a request for an injunction Monday to get thousands of workers paid for their work in July.

Illinois had begun the new fiscal year without a budget, meaning state workers from corrections officers to children services workers would not be paid for any work in July. Illinois' fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

The budget crisis came to a head Wednesday night as legislators in Springfield passed an emergency $26 billion budget that will likely need to be reviewed in the fall.

Illinois, like most states, has been hit hard by the economy and has billions in shortfall.

The AFSCME injunction had been set for a hearing at 1:30 Wednesday before St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson. At about 1:45 p.m. the same day, union officials announced at a news conference flanked by union members that the Illinois Attorney General's Office had filed to remove the case to federal court under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

With the budget passed, it is likely that the issue will be put to rest for the time being. State Comptroller Daniel Hynes now has the authority to issue paychecks, including those that were delayed by the budget crisis.

A similar pay dispute a few years ago was settled in state court, union officials said at the Wednesday conference.

The St. Clair injunction request is case number 09-CH-654.

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