ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Illinois State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, introduced legislation late Friday, March 25 to devote more than $63 million in back pay for state workers following the Illinois Supreme Court's decision last week to vacate a previous decision which required 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.
On Thursday, March 24, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated a previous decision 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 providing the necessary funds to pay for the owed wages.
"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," Phelps said. "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."
According to AFSCME, almost 24,000 state workers in Illinois are affected by this ruling, losing out on more than $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 ensure 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."