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