(PARK RIDGE, Ill.) – Teamsters Local 700 filed a lawsuit on Oct. 27, 2017 against multiple parties of Cook County government on behalf of the approximate 3,400 union members at the Cook County Department of Corrections, including more than 100 members who were previously terminated or suspended by an illegally constituted Merit Board. Members represented by Teamsters Local 700 include correctional officers, investigators and fugitive unit officers.
On Sept. 27, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court let stand the decision of the lower appellate court that the Cook County Merit Board had been illegally constituted between 2011 and 2015. During this time, Sheriff Dart, with the consent of the Board of Commissioners, had appointed five Merit Board members for terms of less than six years. According to the Merit Board Act, all members appointed to a Merit Board must serve a six-year term. While three of those members are no longer serving on the Merit Board, the Sheriff has not appointed any replacements, thus letting the Merit Board continue with below the statutorily-required seven members.
This is also a direct violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the Cook County Department of Corrections and Teamsters Local 700, due to all bargaining unit members having a contractual right to a legally constituted Merit Board to hear any appeals of suspensions and terminations.
These illegal Merit Boards heard and upheld suspensions and terminations of Local 700 members, which the union now seeks to overturn and remedy all members affected.
“These actions brought forth by the Sheriff and approved by the County have deprived our members of their rights under the collective bargaining agreement and Illinois law,” said Teamsters Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski. “Local 700 wants justice for our members that were terminated or suspended by an illegal Merit Board and to see them made whole again, and to stop the County from continuing to violate our members’ rights. The Sheriff must be held accountable for blatantly ignoring the law.”
Teamsters Local 700 represents approximately 3,400 correctional officers and investigators at the Cook County Department of Corrections, including nine fugitive unit officers.