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Will County candidates cross picket line to file

Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots (left) assists Republican county board candidate Michael Strick Naperville early Monday Nov. 25 2013

Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots (left) assists Republican county board candidate Michael Strick of Naperville early Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, with his nominating petitions for Will County Board District 11. Monday was the first day to file petitions for the March 18 primary. | Cindy Cain~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 27, 2013 6:28AM



Union picketers didn’t cause much of a predicament for candidates filing nominating petitions at the Will County Office Building Monday morning.

Ed Bradley, a candidate for county sheriff and the first to file, said he supports the striking county workers and even picketed with them on Saturday and Sunday in front of the county-owned Sunny Hill Nursing Home.

“It’s an unfortunate situation I wish wasn’t happening,” Bradley said of the strike by about 1,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1028, which started Nov. 18.

The strike affects workers in a wide variety of county government offices. As workers picketed and candidates filed petitions, contract negotiations resumed Monday but there was no progress as of late afternoon, said Nick Palmer, chief of staff for County Executive Larry Walsh.

Bradley said he had no qualms about crossing the picket line in front of the Will County Office Building in downtown Joliet because he said the workers know he supports their cause. Bradley is running in the March Democratic primary.

Ken Kaupas, a candidate for sheriff in the Republican primary, said he, too, felt he had to cross the picket line to file his nominating petitions. Kaupas, who was a union member when he worked with the Illinois State Police, said as deputy chief for his cousin, Sheriff Paul Kaupas, he’s exempt from the union and has to enter county buildings that are being picketed to conduct business.

Bradley and Kaupas were among about 20 candidates who stood in line in the lobby of the county building before the county clerk’s office opened so their names could be entered in a lottery to be listed first on the March 18 ballot.

Candidates who arrive at the end of the day Dec. 2, the last day to file nominating petitions, will be entered in a lottery to have their names listed last on the ballot. The lottery for both ballot positions will be held Dec. 10.

Union members walked off the job after 15 months of negotiations failed to produce a new contract. Local 1028 and county officials remain mainly at odds over cost-of-living raises and workers’ share of health insurance costs.

As candidates stood in the lobby Monday getting their paperwork in order, the picketers bundled up against the cold outside.

“I have two gloves on, and my fingers are frozen,” said Martha Magana, who wrapped a scarf around her head to cover all but her eyes as she walked with a bullhorn on the east side of the county building.

The cold won’t daunt union members, she said.

“I know it’s for the right cause,” said Magana, an administrative clerk for the health department.

She said the union plans to picket the jail and Sunny Hill, two county buildings that are open 24/7, on Thanksgiving and Friday if there is no contract settlement before then.

Jackie Barski, a medical assistant at the county health department, said the picket is worth enduring the cold.

“Whatever it takes,” she said. “If it’s zero degrees outside and there’s a blizzard outside, I’ll be there to the end.”

Barski said she didn’t mind that some of the candidates crossed the picket line.

“You know what? We know who has got our back, and those are the ones who are going to be elected,” she said.



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