SPRINGFIELD -- Two more unions sued the state of Illinois Tuesday over Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to suspend scheduled pay raises for some state workers.

SPRINGFIELD -- Two more unions sued the state of Illinois Tuesday over Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to suspend scheduled pay raises for some state workers.

 

Meanwhile, dozens of employees picketed at two worksites in Springfield, while similar protests occurred at other employment sites throughout the state.

The Illinois Federation of Public Employees Local 4408 and Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 919 joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 in filing a lawsuit in federal court in Springfield.

The unions are alleging that Quinn and the Department of Central Management Services violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause and the state's Public Labor Relations Act.

“The suit is about much more than workers not receiving pay raises, this is about upholding a collective bargaining agreement," said Tom Kosnowski, president of IFPE 4408.

Members of IFPE 4408 work as meat and poultry inspectors, as automotive technicians in five agencies, as site superintendents and public service administrators in four agencies and also in the attorney general’s and secretary of state's offices. There are 1,500 members in the union in 20 state agencies, but only 500 people are covered by the lawsuit, said IFT spokesman Dave Comerford.

Fifty members of IFT Local 919 are affected by the lawsuit. They work at the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, Comerford said.

Meanwhile, between 30 and 40 state workers picketed the Willard Ice Building and others picketed the Bloom Building on Tuesday, protesting the cancelation of their raises. They chanted slogans, such as, "What's disgusting? Union busting!" and "Hey, hey, ho, ho, we don't live in Ohio!"

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signed a bill passed by the GOP-dominated legislature curbing collective bargaining rights.

Cathy Matzen, a 59-year-old Jacksonville resident who works for CMS as a public service administrator, protested outside the Willard Ice Building and said Quinn should have consulted the union before canceling the raises.

"He should have went to the union first and talked to them and to say, 'Well, times are hard and we're having trouble, what can we do? Can we move (delay) these raises again," Matzen, said. "I think the biggest issue is giving them to some people and not others."

Asked why public employees in unions should receive raises when so many are out of work and others in the private sector have not received them, Matzen, who declined to give her current salary but was listed in a 2010 state database as having made $100,250, said, "I chose to work for the state and for many years, I really made a lot less than my friends out in the private sector." The database includes any overtime paid.

On July 1, Quinn  canceled $75 million in raises for about 30,000 state workers. He has blamed the General Assembly for not appropriating enough money for the raises. Lawmakers said he could manage spending in the budget or eliminate positions, which they say would be different from laying off workers, which would run afoul of a no-layoff agreement the governor struck with AFSCME before his re-election in 2010.

In its lawsuit, AFSCME said the governor could transfer funds from other appropriations into salaries, not fill vacancies and ask lawmakers for more money.

"Unless the General Assembly changes its mind and appropriates more money for their raises, there's no money to pay the raises and it's as simple as that. So if they're going to be focusing on anything, I think they should focus on the legislative process," Quinn said at an event earlier Tuesday in Chicago.

Keith Klockenga, a 42-year-old CMS information systems analyst who said he wasn't sure of his salary but was listed in the database as having made $95,160, said, "I would my ask my friend if they honored their obligations, if they made a promise did they keep their promises? To me, it's as simple as that."

Matt Lukow, a 46-year-old Department of Corrections parole agent from Springfield who was listed as having been paid $80,000 in 2010, said he doesn't take his job for granted.

"In this climate that we have today, with unemployment in the private sector and the economy doing so poorly, I agree there are a lot of people hurting. But to go to war against organized labor and to attempt break unions and to lower everybody's pay down to unlivable wages ... is not the way to go about correcting this problem," said Lukow, who was protesting at the Bloom Building.

Chris Wetterich can be reached at (217) 788-1523. Political writer Bernard Schoenburg and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

How much were the raises?

AFSCME’s contract calls for its members to receive raises of 2 percent July 1, 1.25 percent Jan. 1 and 2 percent Feb. 1.  Quinn said the state will save $75 million by rescinding wages for union employees in those agencies.

IFPE Local 4408's contract required a 4 percent increase on July 1, according to the lawsuit. Also, members of the union are supposed to receive certain step and longevity increases when they reach their anniversary date during fiscal year 2012. 

For IFT Local 919, members are supposed to get a 4 percent raise on Aug. 16 and the contract also provides for seniority and educational credit raises. All of the raises were canceled.