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Unions Fight to Avoid Layoffs as County Passes Sales Tax Rollback

(Chicago) –The Cook County Board of Commissioners prepared to decimate jobs and services to residents on Tuesday by voting 12-5 in favor of rolling back last year’s penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase by 50 percent.

In a move that will blow a multi-million dollar hole in the county budget, commissioners will force the county to make severe reductions to vital services, including layoffs, to make up for the lost tax revenue. As the board ignores viable revenue alternatives, residential resources including hospitals, corrections facilities, county courts, detention centers and social service industries hang in the balance.
Teamsters Joint Council 25 and more than 50 members of Teamsters Locals 714, 726, 727, 731 and 743 were joined by representatives of AFSCME, SEIU, the Carpenters Union and the Chicago Federation of Labor at Tuesday’s County Board meeting. The labor movement personally expressed its opposition to multiple commissioners.
“As the representatives of millions of hardworking men and women, Cook County Commissioners have an obligation to protect the welfare of Cook County residents without destroying the framework of their well-being,” said John T. Coli, President of Joint Council 25. “Unfortunately, it’s easier for these politicians to roll back the county sales tax and cripple citizen resources than it is to seek out a sound budgetary solution.”
Last year, the county sales tax was increased by one percent, or one cent, by Board President Todd Stroger and the current board. Legislation passed on Tuesday will rollback the tax by half-a-cent and leaves the very commissioners who passed the law with millions of dollars to replace.
Locals 714, 726 and 743 collectively represent more than 7,000 county employees, including more than 3,000 corrections officers, 2,000 court employees, 700 workers in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, 200 social workers and more than 100 employees of Provident Hospital.
“At a pivotal moment for our national and local economies, when residents statewide are looking for their leaders to make conscientious financial decisions, opting to widen the county’s budget cap is a monumental mistake,” said Coli. “Working families must not be placed into jeopardy so a handful of county commissioners can score cheap political points.”
Teamsters Joint Council 25 represents more than 100,000 hardworking men and women throughout Illinois.

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