February 24, 2021

Probation employees join AFSCME

Despite all the challenges facing workers who want to join a union during the pandemic, the ranks of new AFSCME members are growing. On February 1, 164 employees of the 19th Circuit Chief Judge—including Lake County probation, detention and counseling employees—won certification of their union.

“Only by organizing did we ever have a chance to be heard," said new AFSCME member and Principal Probation Officer Nina Naus. "When we act collectively we can achieve a fair and safe work environment."

“These Lake County adult and juvenile probation officers and counselors saw firsthand how AFSCME representation made a difference,” Council 31 Associate Director Tracey Abman said. “When the county attempted to reduce benefits, the Lake County employees we already represented were protected. That victory helped inspire these workers to join our union.”

The probation and counseling employees had to withstand an intense anti-union campaign conducted by the probation department administration in order to become members. They join hundreds of other probation employees in AFSCME’s ranks, including in nearby Cook, DuPage and McHenry counties, and will join the Lake County Circuit Clerk’s staff in AFSCME Local 3182.

"The challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic made it evidently clear that our voices need to be heard and answered," Senior Probation Officer Kim Spasari said. "Our dedicated employees united together to advocate for equal treatment, safer working conditions and appropriate wages and benefits. With AFSCME, we will build stronger together and be at the table where decisions are being made. This exciting journey has only just begun."

“We’re very pleased to welcome Lake County probation, detention and counseling employees to our always-growing union family,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “By standing together in AFSCME, county workers have a stronger voice to advocate for themselves, the services they provide and the communities they serve.”

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