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Article updated: 3/6/2013 4:55 PM

Kane Court security has tie vote, continues negotiations

By Harry Hitzeman

On the eve of a strike by Kane County court security officers, the county made a "substantial move" on a contract offer, but the officers tied in a vote to approve the deal, the union attorney said.

The vote came Monday -- the day security officers were set to strike, officials confirmed, No strike is imminent for the union, which has been working without a contract since late 2008, said union attorney Tim O'Neil.

"The county made a substantial move," said O'Neil, who declined to elaborate on its specifics. "We took it to membership Monday. Half voted to accept it, half voted to reject it. I've never seen that before. We think that the county is finally starting to realize a serious issue here. Nobody wants to strike."

The union is going to meet with the Sheriff Pat Perez and other county leaders, but no date has been set.

Union members in January presented Perez with a notice to strike. The union has 32 members, but some were out of town or on medical leave. Twenty four voted Monday, O'Neil said.

"It appears negotiations will continue," said Lt. Pat Gengler, spokesman for the Kane County Sheriff's Office.

The armed officers provide security at the Kane County Judicial Center, courthouse in Geneva and branch courts in Aurora, Carpentersville and St. Charles.

Officers start at $25,000 a year and top out at about $34,000, significantly less than surrounding counties, O'Neil has said.

An appellate court ruled last year that the security officers were nonessential employees and had the ability to strike, unlike police officers and firefighters, who are prohibited by law and may receive arbitration.

"They were going to go out (on strike) Monday," O'Neil said. "As you can tell by the vote, we're not elated by it. But it was a substantial move. We'll give them credit for it."

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