Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, August 17, 2019

AFSCME blames budget failure for lack of pay raises, unpaid healthcare and expenses

By Record News | May 10, 2016

State employees lacking a contract ask St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien to preserve provisions of their previous contract. 

Local 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sued to enforce the old contract in chancery court, where LeChien presides. 

Melissa Auerbach of Chicago filed the suit on April 26, writing that the state falsely claimed that contract negotiations reached an impasse. 


Attorney C.J. Baricevic, son of Chief Judge John Baricevic, has been retained as local counsel.

The state must negotiate in good faith while the Labor Relations Board determines whether the state and the union reached an impasse, Auerbach wrote. 

The old contract, covering about 38,000 workers, expired last June 30. 

Auerbach wrote that since July 1, the state has refused to pay members according to a plan that moves them through steps on the anniversaries of their employment in their current title until they receive full scale. 

“The current plan has eleven steps,” she wrote. 

The state has refused to pay longevity increases to employees at the top step, she wrote. The state also has refused to fully compensate progression through levels of classification to jobs with increased responsibilities. 

On Sept. 15, Central Management Services posted a notice that it would hold payments on medical bills of 146,000 workers, dependents and retirees whose providers send bills directly to the state for reimbursement. 

While the state has procedures in place to pay interest to providers who are paid in an untimely manner, it has no procedures in place to pay interest to employees if they must pay cash and await reimbursement. 

“Providers are now either asking state employees to pay up front for medical services covered by their health insurance or closing due to lack of reimbursement from the state,” Auerbach wrote. 

She wrote that it was “virtually certain that some individuals who forego health care will become debilitated as a result of doing so. 

“The state has ceased paying travel expenses. This means that some employees have unpaid expenses which exceed $10,000.” 

“In order to remain current and preserve their credit, employees have had to obtain personal loans to pay these expenses.” 

She wrote that the state refused to significantly compromise on its proposals. 

“It has insisted on proposals that require the union to waive its right to bargain with respect to wages, health insurance and job security,” she wrote. 

“It has insisted on proposals that require that the union waive its right to act as the exclusive representative of the members it represents. 

“It has sought to deal directly with employees and circumvent the role of the union as the elected representatives of the employees. 

“It has insisted on proposals that require employees to waive their statutory and constitutional rights regarding retirement benefits.” 

Both Baricevics and LeChien, Democrats, face Republican opposition in the November election.

For C.J. Baricevic, his first run at public office is a high stakes position in Congress. He is up against freshman Rep. Mike Bost for the 12th Congressional District.

Judges Baricevic and LeChien have served in public office for decades. As circuit judges they took the unusual steps of resigning their positions effective at the end of their terms in December so that they could run for election rather than retention in November.

Their efforts are being challenged in court. 

Baricevic faces Belleville attorney Ron Duebbert and LeChien faces East St., Louis attorney Laninya Cason in November. 

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Illinois Department of Central Management Services