Maybe it was apropos that negotiations were held at the county morgue building yesterday? With the impending layoff date quickly approaching, Mike Newman, Chief Negotiator and Assistant Director of Council 31, demanded to know from the county what their plan of action is now that the soda tax (or sugary drink tax-take your pick!) is now law as of yesterday. Mr. Newman asked that all layoff notices be rescinded as the County is now collecting the needed resources to close a projected 67 million dollar budget hole.

It took the County over three hours to return to the negotiation table with an answer to Mr. Newman’s question. The County apparently now projects a budget shortfall of 17 million dollars, not 67 million dollars. The County had thought to rescind the layoff notices, but an emergency temporary restraining motion was filed with the Illinois Appellate Court to try and block the tax on drinks from being collected. The Court will take up the motion, but did not issue a stay on the collection of the tax at time of this writing. You can logically bet that whomever loses this decision will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court for relief.

So, what does this all mean? This is where the “IF” comes into play. For now the layoff notices are still pending until the county can get their new facts and figures together and what the overall budgets will look like with the soda tax being collected. This is supposed to be done by Friday and reported to Madame Prez by Monday, August 7th.

“IF” the tax is not over ruled or stayed by the Appellate Court in the near future, it is believed that the county will rescind all of the layoff notices. “IF’ the Court rules otherwise, the layoffs will go into effect as scheduled.

“IF” the County is going to continue the layoffs as scheduled, AFSCME has asked for an emergency negotiation session before that scheduled date. AFSCME has sent notice asking for information on how the decision was made to go directly to a layoff when vacant positions and individual budgets were cut, and how much money those actions saved.

“IF” there is any news on the impending layoffs or the rescinding of the layoff notices, we will keep you informed.