Kane County probation workers' strike over, chief judge says

The more than monthlong strike by Kane County probation workers has ended, according to Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles.

The county and the workers' union have agreed to a three-year contract that provides raises of 2 percent in the first year, 2.25 percent in the second and 2.5 percent in the third year, said Lisa Aust, executive director of Kane County court services.

The contract also adds two personal days, which could be cashed out if they aren't used, and a "revision to the seniority policy to be enacted in case of further budget cuts or staff reductions," Aust said.

And the contract gives the workers the ability to bring in their own food, resolving a conflict about what the staff brings in to eat themselves, Aust said.

Boles' office first announced the agreement at 5:40 p.m. Monday, without providing details.

"I am pleased and grateful that the labor strike is over and that the valued employees who do important work for the judicial system and the community are returning to work," Boles wrote.

The workers went on strike April 30. Boles notified them that if they didn't return to work by May 15, the county would start hiring replacements. The union, Teamsters Local 330, countered that such a move would be illegal.

The last contract expired at the end of December. Union members told the county board in May they wanted to extend the current contract, which includes a starting annual salary of $39,000 and a maximum salary of about $59,000, and raises of as much as 3.7 percent a year. Boles wrote in a statement rejecting a May 30 proposal from the union, "The union position has been that they are entitled to annual 3.7 percent wage increases for the next 11 years, which would be a compounded 49 percent wage increase, unmatched by any surrounding county."

A timeline in a letter from the county to the union indicated the May 30 proposal included raises and bonus payments amounting to 3.25 percent and retroactive pay to Dec. 1, including the period when employees have been on strike.

The county had offered to provide raises of 2.5 percent for three years, Boles said in an earlier note to striking employees. Under that deal, those raises would be achieved in the first two years by a combination of percentage increases and annual bonus payments. Some senior probation officers and senior youth counselors would have gotten monthly bonuses of $250, representing annual raises of more than 3.5 percent, Boles said.

The union also had said the strike was over unfair labor practices. It at one point suggested Boles should ask the county board for more money to accommodate the raises; Boles replied the county finance committee chairman said the board is not willing.

The striking workers included counselors at the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center.

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