Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
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."

SHARP EXCHANGE

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.

Related:
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 ISSUE

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

Dart warns of 'dramatic increase' in accused gun offenders released on electronic monitors
Friday, February 23, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-soda tax PAC jumps in Cook County Board races
Monday, February 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Wilmette minimum wage working group surveys businesses, will survey residents
Monday, February 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Circuit clerk gets stay on e-filing order
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Hundreds gather at Bridgeport church for Cmdr. Paul Bauer's wake
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dart goes to court in effort to find person accusing him of domestic violence
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Study says property tax system favors rich
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Property Tax System ‘More Regressive’ in Cook County, Report Finds
Friday, February 16, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

VIDEO: Cook County Jail detainees applaud CPD commander’s alleged killer
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Blockbuster report: How Cook County tax system shafts the little guy
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Order over lawsuits in Dorothy Brown’s office put on hold by appeals court
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Dorothy Brown can't 'end-run' First Amendment, judge says in denying delay
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County prosecutors toss more convictions tainted by corrupt ex-Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Handwritten documents, Manila folders, carbon paper — welcome to Cook County criminal court
Monday, February 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County Commissioners missed over a third of Forest Preserve meetings
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail guards lock down sweet union contract—despite sour budget mess
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Running for judge, Dorothy Brown’s inspector general accepts donation from bos
Friday, February 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook Co. President Urges Trump To Stop ICE Arrests In Courthouses
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Beverly Patch

Voting in Jail? New Bill Seeks to Expand Ballot Access for Detainees
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

COOK COUNTY BOARD COMMISSIONER PROPOSES HEARING ON POLICE OVERSIGHT
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WBEZ BGA

all news items

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