Council 31 will be holding the next round of work site membership meetings next week. Both meetings will take place in the downstairs canteen (cafeteria) of each courthouse.
The Bridgeview meeting will be on Wednesday, March 5th from 11:30a to 1:30p. The Markham meeting will be on Thursday, March 6th from 11:30a to 1:30p. The presentation will repeat every 30 minutes.
ALL AFSCME MEMBERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND!
Local 3486 has won an arbitrated case involving discipline for negligence in caseload supervision.
An officer had been given a 2 day suspension for failure to enter caseload negligence for failure to enter closing information. The Local took the case up to arbitration, and not only did the officer get the 2 day suspension rescinded, the discipline was reduced to a written reprimand after a successful argument by the Local that the discipline imposed was not progressive and corrective!
- Friday, February 21st is Solidarity Day! The AFSCME Bargaining Team will be meeting with the county again as we try to inch closer to getting a new contract agreement settled, and we are asking all of you to help!
The AFSCME T-Shirts have arrived and are being distributed to each of you who signed up to receive one! On Friday, Please Wear or Display these shirts proudly in your office for everyone to see, even if you can’t wear it during work hours!
We will keep you informed of future Solidarity Days!
- Work site meetings are coming to a facility near you! These will be facilitated by the Council 31 Staff & Local Union Representatives to inform you on where we are in the bargaining process.
The 1st meeting will be on Thursday, February 27th at the 26th Street Cafeteria location, from 3:45p to 6p. This presentation will be repeated every 30 minutes. Come to hear updates on negotiations, pensions and upcoming job actions! Come to the Meeting! Stay Informed!
Future meetings will be scheduled at outlying work sites. Watch this page for a meeting near you!
- Union Dues Increased. You may have noticed a slight increase in Union Dues. The Council needs to money to fight against the State’s Pension Bill, passed in late December. This will ultimately benefit us, as the County is waiting in the wings to see how this plays out in Springfield before introducing it here. No pension proposals have been brought to the negotiations table to date.
Monday, February 3rd has been designated as ‘Solidarity Day’ for the membership to show its support for the bargaining team. This will still go one, but with one minor change.
The T-Shirts have not arrived for all locals, so you will be asked to wear/display stickers showing support. We will deliver the shirts once all are received, and will proudly display the AFSCME Green soon!
See your Union Contact person for your stickers!
Important Updates for
Cook County Employees
- Is Illinois for sale?
- Pension battle goes local
- Contract negotiations hitting a brick wall
- Legislative/Endorsement Conference
Here’s your list of things to do today:
1. Sign Up for Your FREE T-Shirt! As contract negotiations continue to drag on, time is drawing near for outside job actions to show the County WE WANT A FAIR CONTRACT NOW! The first job action is scheduled for February 3rd. We will be in a negotiation session with the County, and all of us will be wearing our AFSCME T-Shirts! We want all of you at our work sites to wear your shirts too in solidarity!
2. Call Caremark if you don’t want to change your prescription plan! Every January, Caremark wants to put everyone into their 90 day mail-in prescription program. You can call 1-800-552-8159 to opt out of the mail-in program, and keep getting your prescriptions at the pharmacy of your choosing. Do it now, before your insurance denies your next refill!
The bid list for transfers will be frozen on January 2, 2014. Anyone putting in a bid on a new position should do so before the deadline.
We have been discussing how to respond to the reports in the Chicago Tribune, accusing us of negligence and dereliction of duties in cases highlighted although other criminal justice agencies were also involved. Here is our response:
Dear Editors of the Chicago Tribune,
We, the Officers of the Cook County Adult Probation Department, are very concerned about your methods of reporting on stories involving our agency, and pinning blame for these incidents solely on us. In your rush to place blame, you have fallen victim to a vicious scheme to embarrass officers and management of Cook County APD, and have not examined the entire picture before making judgement.
You have focused in on issues which are privileged information to the department: client’s record sheets and internal management lists to monitor caseloads. Neither of these are public information, and for you to highlight entries is a criminal offense. A client’s record sheet is privileged information, exclusive to the Adult Probation Department, and is not to be shared with anyone; including attorneys and other law enforcement, without a direct court order to do so. You have quoted entries word-for-word, and have noted other entries regarding case supervision overall. You were not entitled to this information.
The no contact list, which was sighted in your articles, is also information exclusive to the departmental managers, and individual probation officers to maintain updated contact with clientele. For your newspaper to have printed total departmental monthly report numbers, you must have been given copies of each of these confidential documents by a person or persons within the department. The motivation to disseminate this classified information to discredit the department, or to embarrass a particular probation officer or manager is repulsive. Whomever is responsible for this breach of information should be fired and brought up on criminal charges. The very thought that someone would intentionally leak information to the press for personal gain or pleasure is unthinkable, but alas has occurred.
You have highlighted the mistakes in the supervision of a few of our charges. What you have failed to acknowledge is the responsibilities of additional county agencies in making sure that criminals are being supervised efficiently and correctly. This duty does not solely rest with the Adult Probation Department, but also with the States Attorney and Sheriff’s offices also.
First case in point: You have highlighted that the APD did not file a petition to violate a clients probation until he was being sought as a person of interest in a murder investigation. What you failed to report is that this same individual had two prior arrests to that fateful shooting, where a petition to violate his probation should have been filed in the branch court, that same branch court, and passed along to his sentencing judge. This was not done, twice. A States Attorney should have been looking at the individuals record or ‘rap’ sheet, which would have clearly shown a conviction and probation sentence imposed.
Second case of note: a client in violation of his probation, in active warrant status, was apprehended in another state on said warrant but released, because another criminal justice agency said to release him because “it was just a violation of probation warrant?” Last time we checked, someone arrested on a warrant had two possible choices: post the bond imposed or remain in custody until appearing before their sentencing judge! No get-out-of-jail free card just because ‘it’s only a probation violation!’ A warrant requires that someone appear, in or out-of-custody on bond, before a judge who issued said warrant. No exceptions.
You did note that we have been working short handed for years now, and this is one fact that you did get correct! Only now after a two plus year layoff, instituted by the County Board in 2011, are we getting some of the 44 probation officers back to work. While there is an ongoing argument about caseload size and numbers, what there is a general increase of duties previously assigned to clerical staff now being given to officers. Officers are required to enter their own case notes. Now officers are given complete responsibility for all entries on that case document. Clerical staff had typed some lengthy supervision planning reports previously, but due to their declining numbers in personnel and job responsibilities, are now thrust upon the caseload officer. This may seem logical, but it just adds to an ever growing list of job functions that individual probation officers must complete daily.
You have noted that there are approximately 25,000 people on probation. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) has determined that a caseload of 130 hours is acceptable for all probation officers to supervise. How are these numbers calculated? We are currently using a universal tool, used by many probation departments across the country, called the LSI-R. This is an evidence based practice tool, designed to allow more focus and supervision on those clients who need it.
This tool has sadly failed though, as it has been revamped numerous times to meet the problems here in Cook County. The LSI-R is based on using community resources in supervising clients. It relies on having services available to all who need them; such as substance abuse treatment, mental health, employment, housing, etc. Cook County is so large, and there are only so many private agencies available to take clients, this is a major problem. You noted that a client was incorrectly scored for his level of supervision. How do you know? Did you get the LSI-R scoring guidelines too?
The Adult Probation Officers of Cook County are doing our jobs to the best of our ability, in spite of what is being printed in the newspapers. There are more success stories than failures, but stories about failures grab the attention of the public and sell more newspapers! The County Board has revised the 2014 budget, bringing back most of the layoff officers from 2011. This will help in overall caseload supervision, but more is needed.
As caseloads continue to rise, and President Preckwinkle wants more inmates released from custody on to bond, resources are manditory to complete this action. More officers are needed to fill these positions, not just pass along the buck from one hand to the next. It’s time to staff the Cook County Adult Probation Department correctly. We’ve all seen what can happen when it’s not.
This was Wednesday’s, December 4th, Editorial Cartoon from Scott Stantis. We weren’t going to acknowledge this editorial cartoon at all, but couldn’t let them get away without a rebuttal! AFSCME is NOT to blame for the State’s fiscal pension mess, but he believes that We are the ones responsible for the poor state of affairs in Illinois. Fine, Mr. Stantis. Blame us instead of the legislature, who created this mess by borrowing from the pension funds, and then didn’t pay it back! Remember this too Mr. Stantis, Dogs Do Bite When They Are Antagonized!
(This Bill was quietly signed into Law by the Governor today…)