2,500 striking SEIU employees headed back to work Tuesday after tentative agreement is reached

“All in all we think we did as well as we could with what we were confronted with,” said SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer.

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Striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers walk the picket line earlier this month outside Stroger Hospital on the Near West Side.

Striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers walk the picket line earlier this month outside Stroger Hospital on the Near West Side.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file photo

About 2,500 Cook County workers who’ve been on strike since June 25 were expected to return to work Tuesday after a tentative contract was hammered out Monday evening.

The workers are members of SEIU Local 73 who do a range of jobs throughout county government, including custodian, lab technician at one of the county-run hospitals and jail social worker.

“All in all we think we did as well as we could with what we were confronted with,” said SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer. “Workers are stronger and braver and ready to go back to the county and do their fine work.”

The four-year contract includes an 8.5% pay increase over that time.

“We ended up having to pay more over the next four years for health care premiums than we did in the last contract, so that was a concession,” Palmer said.

Two issues centered on pay increases for some of the lowest paid workers represented in bargaining are heading to arbitration, Palmer said.

The 18-day strike was the longest strike in the union’s history.

Their previous contract expired in December.

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