Pritzker grants union home workers overdue raise, back pay, rips Rauner

New guv charges predecessor with ignoring raises approved by legislators for the Home Services Program and CCAP

Gov. Pritzker granted overdue raises to workers Monday that were approved by the General Assembly under the Rauner administration. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Gov. Pritzker granted overdue raises to workers Monday that were approved by the General Assembly under the Rauner administration. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Gov. Pritzker on Monday granted raises to union home health workers approved two years ago by the General Assembly.

In announcing the deal with the Service Employees International Union’s Healthcare Illinois, Pritzker was unsparing in charging his predecessor, Bruce Rauner, with ignoring raises passed by legislators two years ago in the budget approved over Rauner’s veto after a two-year impasse.

Pritzker charged not only that Rauner never paid those raises, but that he indulged in “costly litigation” in fighting them in court.

“For 20 months, 28,000 personal assistants in the Department of Human Services’ Home Services Program have been denied a 48-cent raise,” said a joint statement issued by Pritzker and SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “That’s because, even after it became law, Gov. Rauner refused to pay it, resulting in costly litigation and courts ruling that it must be paid.

“For eight months, 14,000 child-care providers in the Child Care Assistance Program have been denied a 4.26 percent rate increase, even though it was also law,” the statement added. “These caregivers provide valuable services to their communities, supporting independent living for people with disabilities and delivering quality child care so low-income working parents can remain in the workforce.”

The Rauner administration deliberately sewed chaos in CCAP. Even after Rauner signed a bill to address CCAP shortfalls last year, the union dismissed it as “too little, too late.”

Pritzker joined the union in criticizing Rauner again Monday, saying they were out to repair “years of damage and devastation that occurred under former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s leadership.” Pritzker said his administration “has shown that it will operate in compliance with court orders and the laws of the state. In that spirit, this agreement carries out a law passed by the General Assembly that Gov. Rauner refused to comply with — on which the courts ruled against the state — regarding a wage increase for Home Services Program workers. The agreement also implements and ends litigation over a similar law providing a wage increase for child-care providers.”

According to the Governor’s Office, the two critical segments of union home workers will receive their raises beginning April 1, and back pay will be calculated and distributed by late fall. Some $29 million is already held in an escrow account for workers in the Home Services Program.

“We are putting the state of Illinois back on the side of working families, and rebuilding the vital services and the workforces that deliver them to people with disabilities, working parents, and kids in every corner of our state,” the joint statement added. “We look forward to continuing to stabilize these programs together, and we share a commitment to fixing other harmful Rauner policies through the bargaining process. We are committed to ensuring that our child-care and home-care workers have the stability and training they need to provide child care for working families and to support people with disabilities across the state.”