Unions may have to choose between salaries, pensions

Negotiations over state budget ongoing

February 20, 2012

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As Gov. Pat Quinn prepares his budget address for Wednesday, the president of the Illinois Senate says state workers might have to compromise between salary increases and pension benefits.

About 33,000 unionized workers are reminding state officials they’re owed pay raises. Members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees sent a letter to Quinn last week asking for the raises that they were supposed to get last July.

The raises got blocked because the state didn’t have the money. Quinn blamed the legislature for not appropriating enough resources in certain state agencies.

Cullerton says his office is working with the union to strike a balance.

"AFSCME's at the table. They know that. How can they ask for a pay raise for their salaries when they know all of the extra money the state will be bringing in this year as a result of normal growth will go to pensions?" he said.

The union says the state is contractually obligated to pay the raises, which were negotiated at the bargaining table during contract talks. AFSCME is fighting the issue in court.