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Will Co. workers to vote on strike authorization

Members AFSCME gather outside Will County Courthouse Thursday Aug. 22 2013. | Cindy WojdylCain~Sun-Times Media

Members of AFSCME gather outside the Will County Courthouse on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. | Cindy Wojdyla Cain~Sun-Times Media

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Members of Will County’s largest government employees’ union will vote next week on giving union leaders authorization to call a strike should talks aimed at reaching a new contract hit a dead end.

The voting will take place Tuesday through Thursday and comes about a week before the next scheduled bargaining session between the county and Local 1028 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The union contract expired Dec. 1, but employees have continued to work under the terms of the old agreement.

Negotiations between the county and Local 1028 began in August 2012, and salaries and health insurance coverage remain among the biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement, Dave Delrose, president of Local 1028, said. County officials say they’ve offered a fair contract proposal.

The union represents nearly 1,300 county employees, although the strike authorization vote will be open to about 1,000 of them. The membership includes county jail guards and prosecutors who are barred from striking and can’t take part in next week’s voting, Delrose said.

Both sides have been working with a federal mediator, although a mediator wasn’t part of a bargaining session last week because of the shutdown of the federal government. The next negotiating session is set for Oct. 22.

Should Local 1028 members give leadership authority to call a strike, that doesn’t necessarily mean workers will walk off the job. However, such authority could be an extra bargaining tool for the union, which isn’t ruling out a strike, Delrose said.

“We’re going to do whatever we have to do to get a fair agreement,” he said.



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