Prosecutors plan march.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
by Jonathan Lipman
As many as 200 Cook County prosecutors are expected to pack the Cook County Board meeting today, demanding a pay increase they say was promised them at budget time.
"We were promised a little over 12 percent retroactive to 2004 by June 1," said Assistant State's Attorney Robert Hovey, head of the office's DNA review unit. "We're well into July, and the president and some of the board members are refusing to fulfill that promise."
State's Attorney Dick Devine's prosecutors have gone without pay increases for three years, and Devine's office reportedly has said it would take about $8.7 million to bring them into parity with their counterparts in the county public defenders office.
The public defenders have a union, but prosecutors are forbidden by law from unionizing.
As part of the final negotiated 2007 budget, commissioners said prosecutors would get a parity raise once the county sold land around Oak Forest Hospital.
But the land hasn't sold yet, and other revenue figures have come in below expectations.
"We do not have the revenue for cost-of-living increases," Stroger spokeswoman Ibis Antongiorgi said. "How can the state's attorney ask for (raises) when front line workers are being fired?"
That leaves prosecutors trying to organize in a way they haven't before, said Scott Cassidy, head of the office's special prosecutions bureau. He said he told most of his staff to take a vacation day to come downtown to protest.
"This is foreign to us; we're used to fighting for other people," Cassidy said. "This is not a good time for us."