Kane finance committee head: No added funds for striking court workers' raises

Striking Kane County probation officers repeatedly have urged Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles to ask the county board for more money for salary increases.

On Tuesday, Boles asked if more money was available and was told no.

"It is not likely that the Finance Committee will be recommending the county board approve an allocation of additional reserves at this time for the purpose of funding compensation increases," John Hoscheit, chairman of the county board's finance committee, wrote to Boles.

He also wrote that board Chairman Chris Lauzen concurred.

Boles sent a copy of Hoscheit's letter to representatives for Teamsters Local 330; it was also addressed to the striking employees. The local's president, Dominic Romanazzi, could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

"We have seen numerous communications stating that all this resolves if the chief judge will simply go to the county board and ask for money," Boles wrote.

" ... Unfortunately, the few board members that you have been in contact with that may think differently (than Hoscheit and Lauzen) do not speak for or represent the majority position of the board."

Board members Theresa Barreiro and Barbara Hernandez attended a union rally Monday. Barreiro and Hernandez, plus fellow board members Monica Silva, Myrna Molina, Angela Clay-Thomas, Don Ishmael, Penny Wegman and Jarrett Sanchez, wrote a letter Monday to the judge, supporting the workers.

"We also insist that you, and/or anyone within management, refrain from any form of threats or intimidation towards those on strike in losing their jobs," the group wrote.

Six are from the Aurora area. Probation offices in Aurora and Elgin have been closed because of the strike.

How much?

"There is only $200,000 needed to reinstate the step increases," Romanazzi told strikers at the rally Monday. The expired contract contained a 15-step salary chart, based on years of experience.

But calculations by Lisa Aust, court services director, indicate that if a 3.7 percent annual increase was implemented, it would cost at least $700,000 over the life of a three-year contract.

She bases that on starting with $5.27 million budgeted for the 118 workers' salaries, then adding 3.7 percent each year, to $5.88 million in 2020.

The county is offering raises of 2 percent, 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent. Aust calculates that would cost $363,969.

The workers went on strike April 30.

The expired contract covered 18 categories of workers, including probation officers, youth counselors, parole officers, drug-rehabilitation court officers, pretrial service workers, and sex offender officers.

Last week, Boles sent a letter to strikers, telling them that if they didn't return to work by May 15, replacements would be hired.

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