SEIU strikes for 8th day, cites unfair contract offer

On Thursday, SEIU Local 73 turned down Cook County’s offer of a 8.5% wage increase over the next four years, lead union negotiator Larry Alcoff said.

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Cook County workers walk the SEUI Local 73 picket line outside Stroger Hospital on the Near West Side for a new contract with the county.

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

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Roughly 2,000 Cook County workers remained on strike Friday, marking their eighth day on the picket line.

A day before, SEIU Local 73, which represents custodians, technicians and administrative staff, turned down the county’s offer of a 8.5% wage increase over the next four years, according to lead union negotiator Larry Alcoff.

“Our contract is at least 4 [percentage points] lower than the other union contracts,” Alcoff said, pointing to the tentative deals the county negotiated with AFSCME, the Teamsters and National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United.

SEIU Local 73 says its anniversary raises — a wage increase based on the amount of years an employee has been with the county — increase at a slower and smaller rate than the other unions. Another concern is rising health care insurance costs, which workers say are too expensive.

“If our union was offered a contract package comparable to the other unions when you factor in anniversary steps, then we would have never come to the point of a strike,” Alcoff said.

SEIU Local 73 said its members will continue to strike until it is offered a comparable package to the offers the other unions were given. The union said it is also seeking a contract that rewards the longevity and commitment of senior workers.

A letter from the county sent to commissioners and management said, “Based on the County’s calculations, the average pay increase for SEIU members over the life of the contract is in alignment with all other unions which have reached tentative agreements. (This does not include the value of upgrades and adjustments to wage scales which provide an even greater salary increase to employees.)”

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