Cook County Interest Arbitration Update


During the Cook County Strike, workers won several key issues that finally addressed years of injustice in the workplace. However, two issues were not settled by Cook County and the Union, which meant they went to interest arbitration where an independent third party will decide the fate of these two issues based on evidence presented by both employer and union.

Overall, we are quite proud of the progress we made in showcasing the sheer inequitable pay scales and floors that the County operates on. They are angry about us showing our strength during the strike, but our team has made it loud and clear that we won’t be silent anymore. We’ve spoken to and presented evidence on how Local 73 members deserve fair pay. A recap of each hearing’s happenings can be read below:

Wednesday, 9/29

We finished the third day of the hearing in our interest arbitration case. We added a fourth (and, likely, last) day of hearing for Wednesday, October 6.

It is important for members to know that the outcome of this arbitration will affect:

  • All Facilities Management workers
  • All CCH Service and Maintenance workers
  • All other County members with 10 or more years of service (including those workers who will hit their 10-year anniversary over the 4-year contract), except Physician Assistants and CRNAs

We are pleased with the progress so far in which we have articulated why our members deserve to be paid comparably to others doing the same work and consistent with the agreements reached between the County and other major Unions.

It is also clear that the County is still angry about the fact that our members made clear that we will no longer be invisible, silent or treated as ‘less than’ by the County.

We will keep you informed as the hearing draws to a close the week of October 4.

Monday and Tuesday, 9/27-28

We’ve completed the first day and one-half of the interest arbitration hearing to resolve the outstanding issues of increased pay for longer term employees and all the Cook County Health (CCH) service workers and facilities management workers. We won the right to go to interest arbitration because we went on strike. If we didn’t go on strike to show the County we’re worth more, or if we caved after a few days on strike, we would’ve been stuck with the County’s low-ball proposals.

For facilities management and CCH service workers, SEIU Local 73’s proposal is to:

  1. Move more quickly up the scale with larger step raises while also increasing the 20-year longevity step, and;
  2. Place Building Service Workers, Ward Clerks, Administrative Aides (Cermak), and Patient Care Attendants on the pay grade that comes closest to paying equal pay for equal work with other County workers doing substantially the same jobs.

For increased pay for longer term employees, SEIU Local 73’s proposal is to increase the value of the 10-year, 15-year, and 20-year steps for members in the Sheriff’s Office, Clerk’s Office, Offices Under the President, Treasurer’s Office, Public Administrator’s Office, and CCH (except for PAs and CRNAs). Additionally, we proposed a restructuring of the 12-year step for CCH members. Our proposal is reasonable and in line with what other large County unions negotiated and stays true to our original bargaining goals. We didn’t sacrifice those goals during our historic strike, and we’re not dropping them now.

The County made a proposal but hasn’t put on their case yet. The County is essentially taking the position that there is no justification for increasing the pay of the longest term, most loyal and experienced County employees, or raise the pay of service workers to equal pay for equal work.

Our attorneys and staff have prepared extensively for this hearing and are doing a great job in representing our members’ interests.