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Cook County puts cap on employee overtime

Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Daily Herald
by Kara Spak

Cook County Board members Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to rein in overtime by county employees, specifically targeting county hospital workers earning thousands of dollars a year in extra income.

Except for emergency situations, county employees now can work no more than 20 hours of overtime in seven days and no more than 624 overtime hours annually.

The resolution was passed in response to published reports that the county spent more than $75 million in overtime last year. In one extreme example, a county nurse earned almost $190,000 in overtime in addition to her $92,700 salary.

Taxpayers are aghast at excessive payment with regard to overtime, said Commissioner Carl Hansen, a Mount Prospect Republican.

Cook County Board President John Stroger said he believes county department heads often don’t want to see their staffs filled, knowing that overtime for staff members can result from the open positions.

He blamed the board in part, telling reporters when he was leaving the meeting that the overtime situation was caused by board members playing politics, playing to the media and cutting the budget beyond anything that’s reasonable.

Commissioner Forrest Claypool of Chicago told Stroger at the meeting that the board president could have stopped the excessive overtime with a simple phone call to the offending supervisors. He questioned why that call wasn’t placed.

The truth of the matter is you could make a phone call and stop this, he said to Stroger. I would encourage you to do so.



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