AFSCME boss rebuked at County Board meeting

About 30 Knox County (IL) union employees picketed outside a county board meeting Wednesday to protest the 2.5 percent wage increase being offered to them by the county. Negotiations are ongoing between the county and members of AFSCME Local 1047, which includes workers at the county nursing home, and Local 3217, the county sheriff's department.

AFSCME Council 31 staff representative Randy Lynch tried to speak to the County Board about his concerns with the contract during a public comment period during the meeting but was rebuffed.

Lynch said he objects to the county board giving "a blank check to the state's attorney's office" to hire private investigators over allegations of wrongdoing by county officials. But board chairman Allen Pickrel stopped him, saying, "We're not going there."

"I think it's my right as a citizen to say it," Lynch responded, but Pickrel retorted that the comment was "out of line," and Lynch sat back down.

The nursing home contract is not about to expire, but union officials are exercising an option for a "wage re-opener," which effectively reopens the contract to renegotiate pay scales. The sheriff's department contract is up Nov. 30. Neither group is allowed to strike.

The only sticking point is the 2.5 percent wage increase county officials are offering employees from both groups, Lynch said.

"We can't accept 2.5 percent," he said. "It's not fair. . . . We're just tired of it. We sit back and watch the Knox County Board squander the people's money."


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