Counterpoint: Sheriff downplays unsafe working conditions

SHARE Counterpoint: Sheriff downplays unsafe working conditions

The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act as well as the state and federal constitutions provide protections for workers, including peace officers at the Cook County Department of Corrections.

Teamsters Local 700 believes that Sheriff Tom Dart, as an elected official, is sworn to uphold all laws – not just the ones favorable to him. This union has negotiated in good faith with Sheriff Dart and his designees time and time again to include transfer agreements that included no compensation at all. The sheriff or his designee’s comments in yesterday’s Sun-Times report demonstrate a total disregard for the issues facing the officers. To sit there and downplay the unsafe working conditions, inadequate training, lack of safety equipment and many more issues that Local 700 has been attempting to resolve for years with the sheriff is reprehensible.

OPINION

The officers at the Department of Corrections previously voted to accept an agreement where they would give up millions of dollars in back pay and reduce an annual paid benefit in exchange for the agreement that the sheriff is currently violating. The sheriff could have avoided this situation through honest and truthful negotiations.

You are an elected public official, Tom Dart, and when you sign your name on a legal document, we expect you to keep your end of the agreement. We don’t think that’s too much to ask of someone who was voted into a position of authority.

Stating that the move is only 600 feet away is ridiculous. This degrades the years of service that the officers have given to this department by not allowing them to choose the classification of detainee that their seniority will allow.

We are more than open to showing the public what we are currently negotiating concerning the Division 5 closing arbitration. We cannot disclose this information without the sheriff’s permission, or the sheriff could charge us with bargaining in bad faith. Again, the union will not apologize for protecting our membership and the middle class.

We know that the hardworking people of Cook County are too smart to fall for this cheap ploy for attention. If Teamsters Local 700 cannot protect the benefits it has secured for its members, how does that affect your rights? If our rights can be violated, yours are next.

Becky Strzechowski is president of Teamsters Local 700.

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