Union sues governor to get pay raises

The state's largest employee union filed a lawsuit today in an attempt to force Gov. Pat Quinn to dole out raises for 33,000 workers that were scheduled to go into effect on July 1.  

Quinn moved to block the pay hikes when he made changes last week to the state budget that lawmakers sent him, saying they did not set aside enough money to cover the increases.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees argues Quinn is violating the terms of the union's contract with the state, as well as state and federal equal protection laws.

The lawsuit filed late Friday in a Springfield federal court asks to restore the pay increases for workers in 14 different agencies.

"AFSCME members do the real work of state government, such as caring for the disabled, preventing child abuse, guarding state prisons and much more," AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said in a statement. "These hard-working men and women deserve to know that their employer, the governor, will keep his word and honor his commitments under the law."

The move comes one day after the union asked an independent arbitrator to take up the issue. Quinn said earlier Friday that he was "happy" to work through an arbitrator, but that the law was "pretty clear" that the raises do not have to be paid if lawmakers did not provide enough funding to pay for them.

"I want to make it clear that those who advocate just giving out the raises now and running short of money later in the fiscal year, when you wouldn't have money to respond to the needs of the people, that's not a proper course, a prudent course to follow and I'm not going that way," Quinn said.