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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ A judge has ordered Gov. George Ryan to halt layoffs of 1,080 state workers after Illinois' largest employees union sued to block the cuts.

Ryan said the layoffs are critical to bridging the $1.3 billion gap in the state's budget and said he will appeal the order.

St. Clair County Associate Circuit Judge Alexis Otis-Lewis ruled Wednesday that the state must arbitrate the issue with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union learned of the ruling Friday.

Workers who had been laid off beginning Wednesday have been called back, said AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer.

Bayer called on Ryan to consider tax increases rather than layoffs, while Ryan criticized the union for rejecting his request that state workers forgo a 3.75 percent raise promised in the latest contract.

``Layoffs might never have been necessary had the AFSCME union not objected to a temporary wage freeze that would have saved the state $100 million,'' Ryan said in a statement.

As revenues to state coffers have plunged, Ryan has ordered hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts, including closing state facilities and laying off employees.

Ryan's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 calls for an additional 3,800 layoffs.

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On the Net:

AFSCME Council 31: http://www.afscme31.org

State of Illinois Web site: http://www.state.il.us