September 13, 2018

AFSCME members ratify new contract in Cook County

In mid-September, the nearly 5,000 Cook County employees represented by 14 AFSCME local unions voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract, capping more than a year of very challenging negotiations.

The county’s very severe budget shortfall made for a tough fight for the union bargaining committee comprised of some 90 elected representatives from every local.

Negotiations took place on two tracks. Each local union met with management representatives from different county offices or divisions for “local negotiations” over issues specific to the members of that local. And all 14 locals—1111, 1178, 1276, 1767, 2060, 2226, 3315, 3477, 3486, 3692, 3696, 3835, 3958, and 3969—came together as one strong and unified force for “universal negotiations” over shared issues like wages and insurance.

Management came to the table with a long list of concessionary demands, including a three-year step freeze, big increases in health insurance premiums, reductions in overtime pay and much more. Determined to resist those unfair terms, the AFSCME bargaining committee never wavered in its commitment to secure a contract that continues to provide access to high-quality, affordable health care and builds on the economic gains made in previous contracts.

The committee was backed by the solidarity of AFSCME members who time and again showed their resolve. By standing together against long odds, we reached an agreement that represents real economic progress for every member, as well as expanded rights on the job. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the support and solidarity shown by AFSCME members throughout county government.

“We fought hard for a fair contract with the county,” said Mike Newman, AFSCME Council 31 Deputy Director who led the negotiations. “We understood the financial constraints, but we also ensured that county officials did not balance their budget on the backs of hard-working AFSCME members.”

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