To All Cook County Court Service Deputies
By Shawn Roselieb, Executive Director - Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Since the COVID-19 crisis began in March of 2020, the IL FOP Labor Council has faced an unprecedented number of new challenges across the State, including in our Cook County units. Through it all, we are proud to report that your Stewards have worked tirelessly with your Labor Council Attorney, Sander Weiner, and other Labor Council staff, to address your specific needs and challenges in an expeditious and successful manner. The purpose of this letter is to bring you up to speed on what we have been doing on your behalf these past several months.
The issues faced in your unit due to COVID include everything from transfers and reassignments, safety and PPE shortages, sick leave and hardship requests, emergency mandates and policy changes. These are just a few of the many challenges that came our way.
From the onset of the crisis, our number one priority has been protecting your safety as well as the safety of the citizens that you serve and protect every day. For example, facing a shortage of PPE, we made arrangements with KOVAL and other providers to secure, pick up and deliver an abundance of hand sanitizer to you. We have consistently demanded proper PPE and hazard pay for all of you to reflect the health risks you have bravely faced daily since the onset of COVID.
When the Sheriff insisted that some of you be reassigned to the Jail to address staff shortages and COVID outbreaks there, we promptly took action. The Sheriff has the legal ability to temporarily reassign Deputies due to the emergency nature of the COVID pandemic. However, we demanded that he do so on a temporary basis and with assurances that your safety would be a priority. After several meetings, when we could not get the Sheriff to agree to all of our terms, we filed an Emergency Petition with the Circuit Court, seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the reassignments. The Judge ruled that the reassignments could occur due to the emergency, but at our insistence, he also ordered that such reassignments be done safely. More specifically, his order required that Deputies’ assignments at the Jail match their experience and skillset and that Deputies work with experienced Correctional Officers.
The reassignments of 322 Deputies to the Jail lead to a host of other new issues that needed to be addressed. These issues included seniority rights, COVID pay, safety, discipline, mandatory call ins, vacation bids, subcontracting of work to a private security company, pay discrepancies and more. Many of these issues were resolved after phone calls and meetings with the Sheriff. For those issues that were not resolved, we filed grievances.
Since March, we have filed 100 plus grievances, and are currently preparing 32 of these grievances for arbitration hearings. Three of the most pressing grievances concern the improper withholding of dues money from the Union, the improper reclassification of Deputies as Corrections Officers and the failure to return all Deputies to the Courts. Due to the importance of these issues, we demanded that they be heard on an expedited basis. The Arbitrator, Edwin Benn, has already been selected and he has offered hearing dates in August.
Our biggest priority right now is getting each and every Deputy reassigned back to your prior position in the Courts. It is our belief that the emergency that lead to the reassignments to the Jail no longer exists. We have been able to get many of you back but approximately 160 still remain at the Jail. We will not stop fighting until every Deputy is back where you belong.
In addition to the issues related to COVID, your Stewards and the Labor Council have also been dealing with the “normal” matters that arise in your unit on a daily basis. There are 11 termination cases pending at the Merit Board, 3 cases pending in the Circuit Court, and 2 discipline matters being settled. Your representative, Sander, partook in 17 interviews at OPR in the last two weeks alone, and 10 to 15 Step 3 grievance meetings take place every 2 weeks. We are also preparing to get back to the table for negotiations for a successor contract.
The Labor Council, with the help of your diligent Stewards, was able to accomplish all of this and more, even though the County has not been forwarding dues money to us since 322 of you were reassigned to the Jail.
This Union’s greatest strength lies in its numbers – we have been in business since 1985, with a proven track record of exceptional representation. We are approximately 12,000 members strong and have a highly trained full-time staff of 42. This staff includes 26 experienced, diligent and professional attorneys and field representatives who are labor experts and available to serve you around the clock. We have a 24-hour Critical Incident Hotline and anytime a member is involved in a critical incident an attorney WILL respond.
We know that there is another recently formed “union” that is telling you that they can represent you better than we can. When listening to these claims, please ask yourself, or even better, ask them. Does a brand-new organization have the resources, including financial resources, experience and staff, to handle all of the challenges that we have handled for you just since March of 2020? The cost of a SINGLE arbitration can be well above $25,000.00. Can they afford to arbitrate 100 plus cases? Or will you be expected to foot the bill?
For $48.00/month, the Labor Council represents you in grievance proceedings, up to and including arbitration. This includes all of the costs of arbitration, from the arbitrator’s fees, to the cost of the court reporter and more. Also included in that $48.00/month is: Expert Representation during Disciplinary Matters including Merit Board Hearings; Immediate Critical Incident Response; Dedicated 24/7 Critical Incident Hotline; Contract Negotiations and Enforcement; Proven Lobbyists Protecting your Interests in Springfield; Well Trained Full Time Staff of 42 Dedicated to Members; Training Opportunities; Professional Media Consultant; Member Driven Organization with an Executive Board Consisting Only of Elected Dues Paying Members. These are just some of the highlights of your membership with us.
That’s right – all of this and more for a mere $48.00 per month. I challenge the new group and ANY other Union to beat that level of service for $48.00 per month!
In closing, I want to thank you for allowing us the honor of representing you. We look forward to continuing that relationship for many years to come. Together we will weather the COVID storm, the anti-law enforcement agenda, and any other crisis that comes our way.
Don’t forget to check out our website at www.fop.org and download our free phone app by searching the Appstore or Playstore for ILFOPLC. We have a page dedicated solely to your unit at www.cccsd.fop.org. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Be safe and be well.
Executive Director, IL FOP Labor Council