Alex Degman, Illinois Capitol Bureau

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – Thousands of state workers are still fighting for the pay raises the governor canceled this summer, and some lawmakers are now joining the fight. Thirty-five lawmakers, including senators and representatives of both parties, sent a letter to the governor’s office urging him to make good on the union contracts he violated.

State Sen. John O. Jones (R-Mount Vernon) admits there’s not much sympathy for state workers when everyone is suffering, but a contract is legally binding. “Maybe this contract shouldn’t have been done to start with, but that’s a different story,” he says. “This contract was done. Everybody that I’ve talked to in my district totally agrees with me once I explain to them that hey, this is a written, binding contract.”

Thousands of state workers were set to receive incremental raises this fiscal year (starting July 1, 2011), which would have cost the state about $75 million. The governor last summer abruptly canceled the raises, claiming lawmakers didn’t give him enough money to pay for them. State Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline) says there’s no point in having a contract if it’s going to be broken. “You have to honor the contract,” he says. “The contract was signed and agreed upon by both parties. You can’t change the contract in midstream. If you do, then who can trust the state of Illinois?”

The governor’s office says the current situation is being considered as part of negotiations for next year’s contract. But Jacobs questions how anyone can negotiate a new contract in good faith, when the last one was broken.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network




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