Old Union Pay Raises Still In Limbo

Oct 28, 2013

Rep. Lou Lang speaks with reporters in this April 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

Union workers are still fighting for raises they were owed starting in 2011, but have never been paid. A court has ruled in their favor, but the Illinois legislature is still debating whether to make good.

To finally settle the pay raise issue, lawmakers would have to come up with about $100 million.

State Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, says some of his colleagues are offended they’re being asked to pay for a union contract that someone else negotiated — in this case, the governor.

Not only that, "But you know there are many members of the House who, while they want to see workers paid, they also want to see schools funded, they also want roads fixed, they also have other agendas," Lang says.

Another representative — David Reis, a Republican from Willow Hill — says he supported withholding the raises in 2011. He saw it as an alternative to closing facilities or laying people off. But now, after a judge ruled in the union’s favor, Reis says it's time to pay.

"We’re paying interest on that back-owed money of six or seven percent. So it’s just going to continue to cost the taxpayers more and more," Reis says.

Lawmakers could take up this and other spending measures next week at the conclusion of the fall veto session.