If you paid any bills from Cook County while you were on layoff status, time is running out on getting reimbursed!
The Union & County agreed that they would cover health care expenses for a longer period of time, which the county has tried unsuccessfully to collect upon. The Union had filed a grievance on insurance premium payments for layoff officers and won previously, so you owed nothing.
If you paid any health insurance bills while on layoff, please bring a copy of the bill & check if possible, and submit them to President Jim Dunaway. This offer will not last much longer, as the county is trying to close their books on this matter and will not be accepting claims for much longer.
Rumors have been circulating around the department that the bid list is or will be frozen imminently. Neither Council 31 nor the Local have been informed of any pending action concerning the bid list.
Management must notify the Union in advance of any actions with the bidding process, which they have not to date, according to contractual agreement.
(From The Southern Illinoisan…)
Court decision on insurance could doom state pension overhaul
In a major win Thursday for retired state workers, the Illinois Supreme Court said a 2012 law forcing retirees to pay a portion of their health insurance is unconstitutional.
In a decision that could have major financial implications on the financially troubled state, the high court ruled that the elimination of free health insurance for retired teachers, university workers and state employees violates the 1970 Constitution.
Court watchers said the 6-1 decision likely means the justices also will toss a landmark 2013 law that altered retiree benefits in an attempt to rein in skyrocketing pension costs.
“I fully expect that result to occur,” said Carbondale attorney Edward Kionka, who represented retirees who had brought suit against the law.
In writing for the majority, Justice Charles Freeman said lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn overstepped the Constitution when they argued that health insurance benefits weren’t protected under the state’s pension law.
“(O)ther benefits, including subsidized health care, are also properly regarded as benefits of membership in the public pensions systems and therefore likewise protected,” Freeman noted in the 20-page decision.
In a direct message to the governor and General Assembly, Freeman added, “We may not rewrite the pension protection clause to include restrictions and limitations that the drafters did not express and the citizens of Illinois did not approve.”
Quinn signaled the administration would continue fighting the decision, arguing it is needed to ensure the pension system stays solvent for current and future retirees.
“We believe the pension reform law is constitutional. This landmark law was urgently needed to resolve the state’s $100 billion pension crisis,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “We’re confident the courts will uphold this critical law that stabilizes the state’s pension funds while squarely addressing the most pressing fiscal crisis of our time by eliminating the state’s unfunded pension debt.”
Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the arguments in the pension overhaul lawsuit are different than the ones in the health insurance case.
“As a result, this opinion has no direct impact on the pension reform litigation arguments. We will continue to vigorously defend the pension reform law,” Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said.
But, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, signaled he believes the pension overhaul will be struck down.
“If the Court’s decision is predictive, the challenge of reforming our pension systems will remain,” he said in a statement.
The law, which went into effect July 1, 2013, requires retirees to pay premiums for their health insurance, something they previously didn’t have to do after serving the state for four to 20 years.
Thursday’s ruling reverses a Sangamon County judge’s decision that the law didn’t violate the Constitution. Associate Judge Steven Nardulli had said health insurance is not like a pension because advances in medical technology could lower costs for certain procedures, while pension benefits are set when a person retires.
Quinn and lawmakers who backed the changes had argued that the state must ask retirees for health insurance contributions in order to provide long-term stability to the state.
Under an agreement approved by unionized workers last year, retirees who qualify for Medicare would have paid 2 percent of their annual pension toward health insurance. Retirees who don’t qualify for Medicare would pay 4 percent of their pension toward health insurance.
The ruling brought cheers from the state’s largest employee union.
“The Supreme Court ruled today that men and women who work to provide essential public services — protecting children from abuse, keeping criminals locked up, caring for the most vulnerable and more — can count on the Illinois Constitution to mean what it says,” said Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.
State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, who opposed the changes, said lawmakers should have known better than to challenge the Constitution.
“The past four years have essentially been wasted because legislative leaders of both parties and the governor have ignored the basic document we all took an oath to uphold and defend,” Rose said in a statement.
State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, who also voted against the health insurance changes, said the expected lack of savings from the health insurance and pension changes likely will trigger calls for an extension of the state’s temporary income tax increase, which rolls back on Jan. 1.
“I think there definitely will be a push by some of my colleagues for that,” Brown said.
On Thursday, June 26th, two of our IPS officers were involved in a shooting incident while on duty, and had to draw their weapons and return fire in defense.
Management is to notify the Union of any incidents involving our members. They have contact numbers for the staff representative from Council 31 and President Dunaway. Staff representative Lorenc was not notified until Friday morning also. Chief Judge Evans knew of the incident before a phone conversation with Jim Dunaway on Friday morning.
Management failed to notify the Union of this incident until Friday morning, and that was in a passing comment as news of the events were buzzing around the department. President Dunaway validated the facts of the incident by talking with one of the involved officers after hearing of the incident on the floor.
Management has been clamoring for a critical incident policy and shooting protocol throughout the Reyes administration of this department. Now that it was needed, was ignored or not properly functional. There also is no crisis team currently in place for such situations.
Both officers were not injured, but shaken up from the incident.
We have been informed by officers who have recently been recalled to duty, that they have received invoices from the county for insurance benefits while they were on layoff status. This is a violation of a contract agreement.
It was agreed between the County and AFSCME that any laid off employee would retain medical coverage, since a layoff only affected our department. President Dunaway has requested that the Council file a Class Action Grievance for all affected employees.
If you received an invoice for medical coverage, or more than one, please make copies and get them to President Jim Dunaway.
Dear AFSCME Brothers & Sisters,
As you know, our union is committed to doing everything possible to defeat Bruce Rauner. Rauner has made it all too clear that if he becomes the next governor of Illinois, his top priority will be eliminating unions for public service employees in our state. He travels around the state spreading vicious lies about labor unions—claiming that union leaders are “corrupt” because they have led the fight to improve wages and working conditions for public employees and alleging that public employees are “bribing” elected official simply be exercising their fundamental right to participate in the political process.
Rauner cites his model governors as Mitch Daniels (Indiana) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin)—both of whom have all but wiped out unions for public employees in their states. So he’s making no secret of his intent to “take on” organized labor in Illinois.
It’s critically important that we start now and don’t stop till the polls close on Election Day in our efforts to defeat Bruce Rauner. We need to reach out to every one of our members right now—and then we need to begin reaching out to our communities. AFSCME is working with other unions to develop an intensive community outreach program to make sure that we educate all of our friends and neighbors too.
As local AFSCME Union members, your role is key. Here’s what you can do right now:
· Your Council 31 Staff Representative will be working with you to arrange for showings in your local of a new power point presentation: The Real Bruce Rauner—the Man Behind the Mask.
· Sign up your members to be part of the Stop Rauner—Union Defense Team! Union volunteers can make the difference in this election. Your Staff Representative will provide you with special sign-up cards.
Start today! We have just a couple of months to secure the future of our union for decades to come. In Wisconsin, union leaders didn’t know what Scott Walker had up his sleeve. Bruce Rauner has told us flat out that he’s out to get us. Let’s make sure he never has the chance to do so!
Wisconsin is still battling to keep Union Rights! We don’t want Illinois to follow too! Information on the Rauner Plan is available on this site! Scroll the column oh the right for Council 31 notifications on Bruce Rauner.
Last week we asked you to march with us to tell the county that it’s time to settle this contract. Many of you did!
Today, members of the universal bargaining team, along with other members of every local, filled the gallery at today’s county board meeting to personally deliver our message to President Preckwinkle and the other County Board members to encourage them to wrap up negotiations in the next upcoming sessions.
Negotiations resume on July 1.
(From the Chicago Tribune…)
Probation department probe to begin
Cook County agency’s practices with FBI, Chicago police: Legit or pretext?
As an investigation into the Cook County Adult Probation Department ordered by the county’s chief judge begins, a focus will be the department’s little-known and controversial partnerships with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
Joseph Gagliardo, whose Laner Muchin Ltd. law firm will conduct the investigation, said his team will look into allegations that the probation department has improperly partnered with those agencies and others on searches of homes.
“We are going to look at what’s going on in terms of these other law enforcement agencies,” Gagliardo said. “I don’t know if these instances are isolated or are they common practice.”
Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who oversees the court’s probation department, hired the law firm in May after a Tribune investigation found that probation officers for years have brought the FBI and others into probationers’ homes without warrants, looking for guns, drugs and information on gangs and crime, and leading to questionable and illegal searches.
In some cases, their actions led to accusations that drugs were planted, money was stolen and probationers were threatened with jail if they refused to become informants for Chicago police and the FBI.
Both the FBI and Chicago police defended their relationships with probation officers, saying they followed the law and their agencies’ policies.
Supporters of the collaboration said it has led to seizures of guns and drugs, and to information on gangs that solved violent crimes.
But Barry Spector, a defense lawyer who has represented probationers, said the public should care about potentially illegal searches, even though law enforcement is getting guns and drugs off the streets.
“This isn’t a technicality. This is the Constitution,” Spector said. “To call it a technicality demeans everything this country is based upon. There are rules and regulations about what is reasonable and how law enforcement should act.”
Gagliardo, Laner Muchin’s managing partner, said that if his team uncovers any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the information will be turned over to the appropriate authority.
A former deputy corporation counsel under two Chicago mayors, Gagliardo more recently has been known as the lawyer Metra hired to handle the controversial 2013 separation of Alex Clifford as the agency’s CEO.
Gagliardo said he is billing at $200 an hour for the probation investigation, which he said is a significantly reduced rate for government clients. As part of the investigation, he also plans to review department polices and noncriminal conduct of probation officers, including any indications of unprofessional or unethical behavior.
The Tribune found that many of the concerns about searches stemmed from the activities of the department’s weapons units, supervised by Deputy Chief Philippe Loizon.
Evans, whose office the Tribune reported had been repeatedly warned since at least 2005 about potential problems on probation searches, has placed Loizon on desk duty. Loizon, 50, is restricted to office work and is not permitted to go into probationers’ homes.
The investigation is not likely to examine what Evans might have been told about questionable searches.
“I don’t think his knowledge is important to us at this point,” said Gagliardo, stressing that his team will focus on what happened in the field and how to make improvements moving forward. “We’re going to be looking at what went on and who was involved in it.”
Lavone Haywood, whom Evans appointed chief probation officer in March, had for years been Loizon’s boss. Haywood last week met with officers and supervisors from the weapons units to let them know the investigation was beginning, sources said. Haywood told them that at least one more person has come forward with a complaint against the department.
In an interview, Haywood said the department has turned over documents to the law firm but declined to provide details. He would not comment on any complaints the department may have received. “The investigation is going to be moving forward,” he said.
Joan Hyde, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Chicago office, said “our enforcement actions” follow the law and bureau policy.
“We work day in and day out with our law enforcement partners at all levels to address crime across all our programs, to include our efforts to combat violent crime in Chicago,” Hyde said.
The FBI-adult probation relationship has been beneficial to the FBI. According to bureau records, that partnership in 2011 and 2012 led to the seizure of 55 firearms; 30 arrests based on probationer intelligence; investigative help on 29 shootings/homicides; and 46 new individuals informing them about gangs.
Adam Collins, a city police spokesman, said officers have long partnered with probation to conduct periodic compliance searches, which he called “completely legal.”
“While probation officers have the authority to make an arrest, they do not have the ability to process an arrestee or to recover evidence, so they routinely rely on law enforcement partners like CPD for support,” Collins said.
But Spector, the defense lawyer, questioned why police and the FBI would team up with armed probation officers to make sure probationers were following their 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfews.
“I see no reason why the CPD or the FBI would go on a curfew check,” Spector said. “The only reason that I can imagine for why they would piggyback a probation check is that they don’t have enough evidence to get a warrant to enter on their own. It’s a pretext to search a house or to question someone.
“Do you really think the FBI or CPD allocate resources to see if a probationer is tucked in at night?”
OF course the outside agencies ‘using’ our resources are “doing it according to regulations.” That leads to law suits if they don’t! That gets the ACLU excited that they have another case to prosecute! Stay tuned for updates as this unfolds…
The County has heard Us!
Today, the County revamped their health care proposal yet again, and actually increased their wages proposal. It’s still short of where it needs to be so we don’t lose money overall, but it is moving in the right direction.
Check out this article from Crane’s Chicago Business Report!
Union pickets hit Preckwinkle on ‘pay cut’
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has a reputation of getting along better with organized labor than does Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but it’s the president and not the mayor who’s being picketed by a big union today.
The Union is Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and it’s throwing up informational pickets around 14 county work sites at lunchtime, including John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital on the Near West Side and the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue.
AFSCME represents some 4,500 hospital, security and legal staffers, and it contends that Ms. Preckwinkle is being really unfair, pushing for a big jump in deductions from salaries for health care even though workers have not received any across-the-board wage hike for two years. Since Ms. Preckwinkle so far is refusing to offer workers any retroactive pay hike, increasing health charges amounts to a cut in take-home pay, the union argues.
Ms. Preckwinkle “is committed to continuing to work with AFSCME to develop a contract that is fair to our employees and protects our taxpayers,” a spokeswoman said in an email.
AFSCME also was active in the effort to stall Ms. Preckwinkle’s pension-overhaul bill in Springfield last month, pulling off enough votes from the plan to keep it from passing even though most other unions had endorsed the pact. AFSCME argued then that Ms. Preckwinkle’s plan was harder on workers than the city pension reforms that Gov. Pat Quinn finally signed into law yesterday.
I think it’s fair to say that AFSCME really has pushed the line, getting in major disputes not only with Ms. Preckwinkle but Gov. Pat Quinn. If Ms. Preckwinkle does run for mayor against Mr. Emanuel in February, it looks like she won’t be getting support from this union.
Or for her reelection as ‘Madame Prez’ either! We’ve only just begun my friends!
Anyone who has pictures/video from yesterday’s pockets, please forward a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org & we’ll get them printed & possibly posted to the website!
Thank you again for all your support!