Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Union blues
SEIU loss on worker bill shows biz can win despite Democratic rule

Monday, October 03, 2005
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

When the state's fastest-growing labor union asks Democratic lawmakers for a favor on an innocuous-sounding matter, you'd expect the request to be granted forthwith.

That, at least, was the hope of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which generally has been on a roll in getting what it wants from the political set.

But in recent months, SEIU has been rebuffed in Democratic-dominated Springfield on a key bill. The same scenario is setting up at the Democrat-run Cook County Board. And therein lies a tale about how organized labor can't always count on its political pals and how an outnumbered but far-from-impotent business community still has muscle to flex.

At issue is a proposed "displaced workers act," which regional SEIU President Tom Balanoff likens to the federal plant-closure notification law. As originally drafted, it would require that janitors, guards and maintenance workers get 90 days to prove their worth when the buildings where they work change hands, rather than be summarily fired by the new owners, which is what often happens now.

The bill zipped through the Illinois House last year 112-3. But by the time James DeLeo, D-Chicago, picked up sponsorship in the Senate, real estate industry lobbyists were dialing up opposition. In particular, they objected to a clause mandating that, after the 90-day period, the new owners would have to conduct written performance evaluations and keep on staff anyone rated satisfactory.


"This would be a terrible law for business," argues Ronald Vukas, executive vice-president of the Building Owners and Managers Assn. of Chicago (Boma), a trade group that led opposition to the bill. The possibly illegal "intervention in the collective bargaining process" would discourage anyone from buying property here because they couldn't control their costs, he says.

The issue quickly caught on with other business groups, from bankers to hospitals. In response, SEIU agreed to water down the bill by shortening the review period to three weeks and clearly exempting economic layoffs from coverage. But with industry groups whispering that the bill would require an owner to employ a convicted child molester as a security guard, Mr. DeLeo and Senate Democrats had enough.

"(SEIU) told me there was no opposition to the bill," says Mr. DeLeo. In fact, "every known lobbyist in the Midwest" opposed it, he gripes. The measure ended up being defeated 19-37 this January, with "no" votes from Mr. DeLeo and nine other Democrats.

Now, SEIU is not one to back off a fight. A principle and the union's clout is at stake. As Mr. Balanoff puts it, "All we're trying to say is that the workers a new owner needs have to come from the existing workforce."

So, the union called thousands of voters in each of the districts of the 10 hostile Democrats, making the point that defection has its price. And it arranged for a similar bill to come before the County Board, where Democrats run the show just like in the General Assembly.

At a hearing last month, Boma raised new questions about legality and security implications. In response, board President John Stroger, who loves labor but likes business' campaign cash, too, shelved the bill at least until he gets an opinion on whether the county has the legal authority to mandate written performance evaluations. Though SEIU officials deny it, the Stroger camp leaves the distinct impression he would just as soon see the bill go away.

That leaves Mr. Stroger's co-sponsor on the measure, Commissioner Lawrence Suffredin, holding the bag by himself. But perhaps not for long. While Mr. Suffredin says he's redrafting the legislation and stands by the concept of the original bill, he also says his intent is to mandate only a "tryout period," not a job.

SEIU's Mr. Balanoff says it's all been worth it, if only to find out who his real friends are. "When it comes to protecting workers in the private sector, most politicians are afraid to take on big business," he concludes.



Recent Headlines

Cook County approves road projects for upcoming years
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Northwest Indiana Times

Palatine, County Forest Preserve To Partner Up
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Palatine Journal Online

Man dies following beating at Cook County Jail
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Health Board selects new leaders
Friday, July 25, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

The PrivateBank pledges $10 million to the Cook County Land Bank
Friday, July 25, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners switch votes, rehire erstwhile contractor
Friday, July 25, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board adds two questions to packed fall ballot
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Cook County to cut buildings' carbon emissions
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Fox 32 Chicago

Cook County Board sends assault weapons referendum to the ballot
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County mulls fund-of-funds investment, other changes
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Pensions & Investments

Forest Preserves of Cook County to get expertise, guidance from new Policy Council
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Special to suffredin.org

Preserves and parks offering memorial trees and benches for a price
Monday, July 21, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Community leaders, sheriff aim to help mentally ill inmates
Monday, July 21, 2014
FOX 32 Chicago

TIF Revenue Down 2 Percent in Suburban Cook Co.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Palatine Patch

Recorder of Deeds staffers accused of political motive in firing
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County sheriff's department will focus on catching people wanted on arrest warrants
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

An unwelcome surprise from the Cook County health system
Monday, July 14, 2014
Chicago Tribune

New Cook County Health CEO must find millions in savings - stat
Monday, July 14, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Fitch cuts rating on Cook County
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Reuters

Man trapped in Cook County Jail 30-plus hours files court papers
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP