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Bernie Sanders tweets support for striking Cook County workers

“It’s outrageous that Cook County received $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan but still refuses to negotiate a fair deal for workers,” the senator from Vermont tweeted Saturday.

Then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at Grant Park in March 2020. Sanders showed his support for striking Cook County workers Saturday.
Then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Grant Park in March 2020. Sanders showed his support for striking Cook County workers Saturday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Sen. Bernie Sanders shared his support for Cook County workers Saturday as they head into their third week of a strike amid negotiations for a new contract.

“I stand in solidarity with @SEIU73 and 2,500+ Cook County workers — custodians, technicians, & clerks who are on strike for a new contract,” the senator from Vermont tweeted. “It’s outrageous that Cook County received $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan but still refuses to negotiate a fair deal for workers.”

Saturday marked the 16th day of the labor stoppage for SEIU Local 73, making it the longest strike in the union’s history. The county workers’ walkout began at the end of June after nine months of negotiations without agreement on a new contract.

The union — which represents custodians, technicians and administrative assistants — is seeking better pay and more opportunities for advancement.

On July 1, SEIU Local 73 turned down the county’s offer of an 8.5% wage increase over the next four years, stating it was less than that offered to other unions, according to lead union negotiator Larry Alcoff.

Some workers staged a sit-in Wednesday outside Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's office after getting no response to the union’s latest proposal that was delivered the previous week.

In a statement Saturday, Preckwinkle’s office said they were “proud to have a history of strong relationships with the labor unions that represent our workforce ...

“Our hope is that SEIU will accept the County’s offer, the majority of which was previously offered June 28th, with further upgrades for lower wage workers offered in settlement of the strike on July 1st,” the statement read.

Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a former presidential candidate, has been a longtime supporter of union organizing in the city. He came to the city in 2019 to rally with Chicago Teachers Union members ahead of what ended up being an 11-day strike.