Following a hard-fought, yearlong campaign, correctional officers working at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) have voted overwhelming in favor of representation by Local 700.
Mail-in ballots for the nearly 3,000-worker unit were tabulated by the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB) and election results were announced Friday night, with Local 700 winning the vote for representation by a decisive 2-1 margin.
“The pandemic tested us in ways we could never imagine, but we became all the stronger for it. Our solidarity paid off in innumerable ways throughout this campaign—at the bargaining table as well as in this crucial election victory for Teamster representation,” CCDOC officer and Local 700 Recording Secretary Ed Kern said.
A member of the officer-led bargaining committee, Kern also noted that the union is still fighting at the negotiating table for additional economic improvements.
“Friday’s win means that we will continue to have strong representation to make gains under our new contract agreement. I want to thank everyone for putting their trust in us, and I appreciate everyone who took the time to vote. We are going to continue to work hard for everyone at CCDOC,” Kern said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Local 700 has been working tirelessly to secure a union voice for officers while simultaneously bargaining a new contract with Cook County and the Sheriff. On March 15, Local 700 announced they had negotiated a non-economic tentative agreement that will restore fairness at the jail and greatly improve the working lives of CCDOC officers.
“As a Teamster official who has worked as an officer at the Cook County Jail, this election was deeply personal to me. We are proud of these members for standing strong throughout this most difficult year. They overcame incredible odds, and this victory is a testament to their dedication to law enforcement and to a better future at CCDOC. We look forward to continuing our fight for officers and pledge to do everything we can to win them the respect, benefits and fairness they deserve,” Local 700 Vice President Anthony McGee said.
McGee said corrections officers have “heroically put their lives on the line” during the pandemic, facing several huge challenges due to the spread of COVID-19. Countless officers were infected with the virus and many tragically lost their lives.
“Despite the additional challenges to an already difficult job, these brave officers showed up every day to continue to serve and protect. Law enforcement is a very stressful line of work, and they deserve the best representation possible,” McGee said. “I want to thank our members at CCDOC for their continued support.”
“By making their voices heard, officers have ensured real union representation at CCDOC,” said Ramon D. Williams, President of Teamsters Local 700. “In my three decades of being a Teamster, I have never been prouder. The determination and commitment of officers has brought pride to the entire union, and their perseverance will continue to serve us in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
Last month, McGee and Williams joined with Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa for a rally outside the Cook County Jail to kick off the mail-in ballot election for representation. Hundreds of officers gathered in support of their campaign to secure a union voice at CCDOC.
“CCDOC officers have spoken. They exercised their democratic right to vote for the union of their choosing, and they chose the Teamsters Union. We thank them for their service, their courage, and their commitment to ensuring a better future for all CCDOC officers,” Hoffa said following Friday’s vote. “On behalf of 1.4 million Teamsters across North America, I want to congratulate them on their tremendous vote for worker justice and a true union voice on the job.”
The victory in Cook County will serve officers in the weeks ahead as they return to negotiate the economics of their new contract.
Local 700 represents more than 10,000 public services employees in the Chicagoland area, including nearly 3,000 officers at CCDOC.