Suffredin- Changing County Government  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Dart, Preckwinkle are in toxic clash over Teamster talks

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

The relationship between Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart has virtually broken down over a key new labor contract, with a bitter exchange between the two offices over a pending deal with the Teamsters Union covering 3,500 guards at the county jail and related positions.

In a series of letters I obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request—you can read two of them at the end of this story—Dart's office says it is "disappointed" that Preckwinkle aides "did not follow through" in bargaining work-rule changes needed to curb soaring overtime at the jail. Preckwinkle's office replied that Dart's letter is "full of mischaracterizations and blame" and that it's Dart's fault more concessions were not obtained.

Sign up for the free Today's Crain's newsletter

At one point, the Preckwinkle letter suggested that, to get what he wanted, Dart need to go slower and "be willing to give something in exchange for what you hope to receive from the unions. . . .You have to build relationships, build trust with your employees."


Dart and Preckwinkle often have clashed through the years. Nonetheless, this sharp exchange is dropping jaws all over the County Building, with board members saying it provides a "disturbing" and "alarming" look at bargaining on the new contract, which could come up for board action in October and, if approved, set a pattern for deals now being negotiated with other unions.

Amid soda tax war, Teamsters thank Preckwinkle for a good new deal
Madigan moves to pull plug on Preckwinkle's soda tax
Cash-strapped city has a window to save millions in union contracts

"I'm very concerned that there's been a breakdown in how this contract was done," said Evanston Democrat Lawrence Suffredin, noting Dart and Preckwinkle even retained separate labor lawyers during the talks. "Both letters show a lack of collaboration and a lack of cooperation, which costs us and taxpayers money."

News of the dispute also comes as Preckwinkle tries to quell a board revolt over her controversial penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. As I previously reported, the Teamsters supported the pop tax and, in a letter to members, thanked Preckwinkle for her "very fair" treatment during negotiations.

"The sheriff's office wanted more items," it said. "These things were rejected by the bargaining team."


At the core of the dispute is a system in which the president's office traditionally negotiates overall economic terms of all union deals, but individual elected officials such as Dart have a big say on non-economic matters.

In his letter, Dart's general counsel, Nicholas Scouffas, makes it clear the sheriff wanted the old system to end, given growth in overtime at the jail, with paid leave doubling since 2012 and overtime leaping from $18.7 million in 2015 to $24 million last year.

"When we first discussed our proposals, you insisted that the old way of negotiating be maintained," Scouffas wrote in a letter to Velisha Haddox and LaShon DeFell, head of the county Bureau of Human Resources and deputy chief of labor relations, respectively. The president's team later "appeared to change your position," but "you did not follow through."

"In the meantime," it concludes, "the sheriff's office expects that your negotiated increases to the sheriff's budget will be covered by the county without some unrealistic expectation that our overtime will decrease as substantially as (Dart's) changes would have allowed."

Haddox, in her letter back, said Dart's letter is missing "an acceptance of responsibility and accountability" for its own failures.

"Our labor team offered to mediate a deal between your office and Teamsters. You declined," she said, going on to allege that Dart's office changed its position and presented "zero proposals" for change.

Despite that, the county negotiated helpful changes, such as a provision to allow the sheriff's office to do home visits to ensure that staffers who had taken sick time off were indeed at home recovering.

Suffredin said he disagrees with the suggestion in Preckwinkle's letter that unions need to be sweet-talked into changes. But his bigger concern is that management is divided between Preckwinkle and Dart.

Similar comments came from North Side Democratic Commissioner Bridget Gainer.

"Of course any negotiation is a give-and-take," she said. However, "we need to be on the same page if we're going to be effective. . . .If the president's office is taking the lead on this contract, then they shouldn't act until they have consensus" with the sheriff.

Gainer noted she and Suffredin have introduced a plan to hold off approval of this and any other contract unless a fiscal note detailing its costs to taxpayers has been filed at least 30 days earlier.

A third commissioner, Elmwood Park Republican Peter Silvestri, called it "alarming that one of the largest contracts in the county isn't subject to the collaboration needed to save people a lot of money."

Who's to blame? "There's enough jackets for both of them," Silvestri replied. But in negotiations, "you have to start high. Then maybe you come down."

Preckwinkle spokesman Frank Shuftan says the administration is standing by its position. "Bargaining in good faith is the responsibility of all parties. That is our approach and will continue to be so," he emailed, adding that commissioners will have plenty of time to review details of the proposed pact without any new fiscal note.

Dart isn't moving, either. "We had to fight to be at the table," says his spokeswoman, Cara Smith. "We presented a laundry list of proposals, and feel we weren't given the opportunity to pursue them."

Change is needed, she added. "These people (guards) don't want to work. In a recent weekend, we had 132 people who called in (for a day) off. We're rewarding poor behavior."


To read the letters from Dart's Office HR Director Haddox  and her response click here



Letter to Haddox and DeFell by AnnRWeiler on Scribd

Recent Headlines

Unsung Heroine Award to Emily Guthrie
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Evanston Roundtable

In a twist, Cook County wins $9 million verdict tied to jail strip-search settlement
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Chicago Tribune

15 got promotions from Court Clerk Dorothy Brown within 6 months of donations
Friday, March 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Assessor Berrios loses court fight to overturn Cook County's limits on campaign donations
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

$70 million and counting? Cook County taxpayers face massive tab for sheriff board firings
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Commentary: Dart's misguided approach to jail reform
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Commissioners: Shelve this Cook County job killer
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County alerting investors, delinquent property taxpayers of coming tax sale
Friday, March 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Agnes Lattimer, who became Cook County Hospital medical director and campaigned against lead poisoning, dies
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Emily Williams Guthrie Honored as 2018 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Special to

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart responds to a lawsuit alleging he’s holding people beyond their constitutional right
Thursday, March 01, 2018
WGN Radio

Extension is scratched, deadline for Cook County property tax online payments remains Thursday night
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Laid-off Cook County Jail commanders sue Sheriff Dart, allege retaliation over union effort
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

‘Going rate’ for job in Dorothy Brown’s office? $10K, records allege
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Going rate' to buy a job in Dorothy Brown's office? $10,000, employee tells feds
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Jailed woman sues Sheriff Dart over delayed release into electronic monitoring
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Assessor Berrios goes to court to keep property tax lawyers' campaign contributions flowing
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Pay the bagman $10,000 to work for Dorothy Brown?
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Pappas: Women who work for me 'love' wearing Cook County smocks that the men don't have to wear
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Column: Kim Foxx on bond reform, going after violent criminals and the 'reckoning' of #MeToo
Monday, February 26, 2018
Daily Southtown

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.