Quinn plans to appeal ruling

Union: Guard layoffs would be dangerous
September 28, 2009 (VIENNA, Ill.) The governor wants to lay off 2,600 state workers -- at least 1,000 of which are prison guards-- to help balance the budget. The first layoffs would have begun this week.

Gov. Quinn said he will fight the ruling by Johnson County Judge Todd Lambert. Lambert's preliminary injunction was sought by a major union that includes the prison guards: Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The injunction keeps Quinn from carrying out the layoff until the grievances with the union can be worked out.

"In the Department of Corrections, these layoffs represent a serious danger to the employees who would remain," said Roberta Lynch, AFSCME.

The motion, which was filed in a downstate court, focused on a longstanding union complaint that state prisons are understaffed. The union argued successfully that Illinois cannot layoff up to 1,000 correctional officers before addressing the original grievance.

"The layoffs should not go forward until the outstanding issues related to the layoffs have been resolved," said Lynch.

The judge said the risk to employees 'far outweighs' any damages or harm to the state by delaying the layoffs for arbitration.

Governor Quinn, who last week Governor Quinn announced that early release of up to 1,000 prison inmates to save money, disagreed with the ruling on Monday and plans to appeal.

"There's no jeopardy to public safety and I know the union says that but we don't agree with that, whatsoever," said Gov. Quinn.

Gov. Quinn suggested because Vienna State Prison is Johnson County's largest employer the Judge Lambert may have had other reasons to rule for the union.

"There's a lot of correctional officers in that particular neck of the woods," said Gov. Quinn.

Facing a $12 billion deficit, Quinn hoped to save more than $100 million with the 2600 layoffs. He said he hopes to make ends meet in the near term with a cigarette tax increase and by closing in tax loopholes.

Lynch said for the state to appeal the Johnson County Court ruling would be a waste of tax payer money.

"I think it would be a mistake to appeal and I think the judge has been straight forward indicating we have a very sound case," said Lynch.

Gov. Quinn said he will keep trying to convince the union to give up its scheduled pay raise and accept furlough days to eliminate the need for layoffs. Meanwhile, he'll push for an increased cigarette tax and tax loophole closures during the General Assembly's veto session next month.

It will take a three-fifths majority to pass any bill during the veto session.

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