Earlier this month, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn told AFSCME -- the state's largest labor union -- that its 30,000 workers wouldn't be getting their guaranteed raises.
He said his hands were tied after the state legislature failed to appropriate the $75 million needed to make good on the 2 percent raises.
"I think the union should know," Quinn said in announcing the raise freeze, "there's no money to pay the raises."
Tuesday an arbitrator said the Governor violated the union contract that called for the raises and must make good on the pay increases within 30 days -- including back pay to July 1.
Arbitrator Edwin Benn issued the opinion:
"Under the mandatory, clear and simple terms of the negotiated language, the State must pay the 2% wage increase effective July 1, 2011. As a matter of contract, the State has no choice."
“Frontline state employees are out there every day doing the real work of state government and the Quinn Administration, as their employer, should keep its commitments to them,” AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer said in a statement posted to the AFSCME Web site.
Quinn's communications team told reporters they would appeal the decision.
"The fiscal year 2012 budget does not provide the money for pay raises for nearly 30,000 state employees at 14 agencies," spokesman Grant Klinzman said in a statement. "Funding these raises would mean that these agencies would not be able to make payroll for the entire year, disrupting core services for the people of Illinois, including children, the elderly and those with special needs"
Quinn is out of state on a trip to Israel.