American Arbitration Claims Filed by State Workers in Illinois
American arbitration is poised to handle yet another conflict between state workers and government at the state level, this time in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn has announced that he is freezing pay increases and more than 30,000 workers were expecting raises that would have totaled $75 million dollars. Workers in 14 different state agencies were affected by the announcement.
State workers picketed at over 75 locations across the state, hoping to spur support for union bargaining rights, but they also filed suit in federal court and initiated arbitration proceedings. Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, represented by Chuck Stout, expressed high hopes that the arbitration panel would understand the workers' position: "Our members have sacrificed already. We have deferred wages and taken thousands of furlough days. We have also modified our health insurance to save the state $70 million.” Stout also described litigation as a waste of "precious tax dollars." American arbitration generally produces a decision at far less cost to all concerned, when compared with a court process.
Governor Quinn maintains that the state has no money for the raises and that moreover, he is constrained from offering them because no monies have been appropriated for them by the General Assembly of Illinois. Workplace arbitration and labor arbitration are common forms of dispute resolution when an employee group is one of the parties to the disagreement.