Appellate court sides with union against Lake County circuit clerk
The Illinois appellate court has confirmed that Lake County circuit clerk's office employees are entitled to join a union if they so choose.
The Second District of the State Appellate Board confirmed previous decisions by an administrative law judge and the Illinois Labor Board to allow the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Council 31 to represent the workers.
Appellate Judge Joseph E. Birkett said in the 28-page ruling, filed Aug. 15, that Circuit Clerk Keith Brin did not show that union representatives intimidated and coerced employees into supporting its organizing drive, as Brin and other employees claimed.
"When the employees chose to join AFSCME, it was because of the working conditions under Keith Brin," said Colin Theis, staff representative for AFSCME. "We hope that he (Brin) will come to the bargaining table and work with us negotiating a contract that fairly addresses his concerns, the concerns of his employees, and the concerns of the Lake County taxpayers."
The decision comes three months after circuit clerk officials refused to meet with AFSCME representatives on an employee contract.
AFSCME claimed Brin and chief deputy clerk Jeanne Polydoris also banned employees from passing out union literature before their shifts, trumped up reasons to fire a worker who helped organize the union, and intimidated a second employee who distributed union literature outside their office.
"The mission and focus of this office has not -- and will not -- change," Polydoris said. "We serve the taxpayers of Lake County. We answer to the people of Lake County who pay our salaries."
She added the circuit clerk's office was "disappointed" the appellate court "did not agree with the fraud and coercion we presented. The people of Lake County deserve better."
She said the office is reviewing the appellate court ruling and could not answer whether they will appeal or meet with AFSCME representatives about a contract.
Attorneys for the circuit clerk's office said AFSCME petitioned to represent employees in January 2015 but Brin rebuffed their attempts. An administrative law judge approved the union in July, but that decision was challenged -- first at the Illinois Labor Board, then at the appellate court level.