Quick Hits – The Union Strikes Back

When we last left off on Saturday’s supplemental Quick Hits, Kane County Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles had just issued an ultimatum insisting the striking probation officers and youth counselors return to work by May 15 – under her terms – or they’ll lose their jobs to replacement players.

The First Ward correctly surmised that, since that Teamster’s contract does not contain a no-strike clause, the Chief Judge was embarking upon the kind of illegal course of action that would incite the union into immediately striking back.

Teamsters Logo

And that’s exactly what they did. Here’s the meat of their response to Court Services negotiator David Heilman:

Union Response 2

Boles first problem is, just 12 days into the strike, she managed to rack up three unfair labor practice charges which means you don’t get to hire replacement workers. And I’m sure the Teamster’s threat to take it all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court is a good one.

If someone of my limited intelligence (my readers tell me this) and abject lack of any legal background can figure out that replacement workers are an illegal proposition, exactly where is the Chief Judge’s crack negotiating team? At Chuck E. Cheese?

And I don’t think Court Services can afford the kind of legal fees this protracted battle would require, either. They’d have to go to the County Board for extra funds and hell will freeze over before that happens.

Her second issue is, even if Boles was allowed to hire replacement workers, with all due respect to the young men and women who currently hold those positions, with Illinois unemployment an all-time low, who’s going to jump at the opportunity to be paid all of 39 grand to take on a four figure caseload while walking through a picket line every day?

So, I don’t think there would’ve been too many takers, anyway.

But the Chief Judges biggest challenge now is, having resorted to the nuclear option just 11 days into the work stoppage, where does she go from here?

Like I said, Court Services can’t afford a lengthy legal battle, but the Teamsters can! And if there were any cracks developing in those striking workers’ united front, the Chief Judge’s ill-advised letter completely took care of that. They’re more united than ever and now Boles somehow has to get those workers to buy into a negotiated settlement after she so summarily dismissed them.

All I can say is, it’s going to be a rather fascinating 2018 Court Services Christmas party.

Let’s juxtapose this absurd labor fiasco with former Sheriff Pat Perez’ deft handling of eight years of negotiations with three separate unions during the height of the Great Recession. Pat knew that then Chairman Karen McConnaughay would never give his deputies everything they wanted, so he had to build the kind of relationships that meant the unions would take him at his word – and they did. It’s something called “trust!” And there were no strikes during his tenure.

Like I previously stipulated, it’s amateur hour for the Chief Judge and Court Services Director Lisa Aust and those Republican County Board members are, indeed, smirking as those two insist upon falling flat on their faces.

Chief Judge Boles! This isn’t your courtroom where your every edict goes! This is a sensitive negotiation that requires a thorough understanding of political cause and effect, the ability to foresee consequences before they land squarely on your head, and a healthy dose of compassion because you’re dealing with people’s livelihoods and their families.

It’s time to call the County Board in before you make it any worse than it already is.

The real irony is, though it’s not this simple because the State pays judges’ salaries, if they eliminated just one judicial position, they’d have the 200 grand it would take to settle the strike. And I don’t care what the Illinois Supreme Court says, Kane County doesn’t need 12 circuit and 17 associate judges – most of whom work very part-time.

Perhaps it’s time to change that.

17 thoughts on “Quick Hits – The Union Strikes Back

  1. Im one of the POs on strike and i just think you are spot on Jeff!!! Thank you!! However, i have to point out something…in the 18 years I’ve been a PO in Kane, our department has NEVER paid for a Christmas party!! WE provide the food and celebrate on our lunch hour!!!

  2. Looks like the Union representing these folks is serious.

    Maybe the people kitty corner from the courthouse might think about a new representation? They need it.

  3. Did you know they recently hired a new layer of supervisors? There would be plenty of money without these unnecessary hirings.

  4. I am told the county board has told strikers all the chief judge needs to is as the board for money for the raises! I suspect those are the same county board members who said they had “their backs right before they voted to close the em program. If the county board wants to give money for raises (which they don’t) all they have to do is offer….. I was at the meeting when the esteemed chairman was struggling with a 1 %
    raise! If you believe your board members then go picket at their house!

  5. I think if Boles at least asked and was turned down by the Board…we would be in a different situation. If her communication with her employees wasn’t thru altimatium certified mail that fails to show once ounce of compassion…we would be in a different situation. Nothing about her actions thru these negotiations has be feeling positive about being a County employee as even if we get our deserved step increases I’m not sure I would want to work for this management regime.

  6. Good coverage. As you said, the next steps are going to prove to be fascinating.

  7. Funny thing is, a lot of other counties, also the board members have complained about the very poor communication of both Chief judge and Aust.

    • That’s because they think they are the President and Vice-president. Aust needs to be fired and Susan needs to step down, show be a very easy move for her.

  8. To all you folks who mentioned the County Board, please remember that, but law, they cannot intervene in this fracas until the Chief Judge specifically asks them.

  9. who told you that Jeff?

    • Told me? The Internal Control Statute forbids the Chairman and the County Board from interfering with the operation of any elected official’s office. All they can do is set their budget.

      But once that budget is approved by the Board, they can spend that money and run their office any way they want.

  10. If nothing else, voters will finally get a look into the bloated ranks of judges and associate judges in Kane County when Boles has to reveal where all the money goes Jeff, as you wrote before, the associate judges are hardly the best and brightest, and the selection process is cloaked in secrecy. 17 of them, all making about $200k! They should clean house, start over with about half as many and limit reappointment’s to two terms max.

  11. So the judges work 4 to 5 hours top, making $200,000, come on! Aust, by all accounts has seen her pay, and carefully chosen , agreeable directors go up over 12-17% in the last 4 years, not to mention those”sshh bonuses”. Now, Boles and Aust, brain team, state they can’t allocate 3.7% for the actual 8 hour a day working staff? Beyond wrong, this seems as if we take a peek, somebody is going to be in trouble. Did we forget that Aust and that shifty looking guy that gallops behind her seem to enjoy poking fun at the strikers. Boles, Aust, and rest of her crew needs to go. My taxes have been paying for this crap! I’m so angry!!!

    • Your taxes have been paying for so much crap but I have not seen one Illinoisan form a protest or rally against the high property taxes or state taxes.

      Just keep working to pay those taxes until you get the idea to move out like so many have already.

      Keep paying for those school administrators high pay and pension costs.

      Keep paying for those public universities professors high pay and pension costs.

      Keep paying for those legislators high pay and pension costs.

      Just keep paying!

      https://www.bettergov.org/pension-database

      Check it out youself

  12. Yes Aust got A pay raise of 6000 from 2016 to 2017. So it went from something like 108,000 to 114,000 per year. Why? For what? Absolutely no reason to get paid $6000 extra.
    Shoot what does the county recorder make, 80,90k? And they are only in the office from 10-3

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