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Courthouse union waiting for May 16 meeting

Strike will be determined after that discussion with county board members

PRINCETON — The union courthouse employees who participated in a practice strike last Wednesday before the regular Bureau County Board meeting are waiting until a Tuesday, May 16, meeting to determine whether or not they will officially strike.

The employees are seeking higher wages and raises. Currently the starting wage for courthouse employees, who are not elected officials, is $10, according to the Teamsters Local 722 union. The county board has offered a raise of 35-40 cents, but the union is pushing for a $12 starting wage and to have current employee wages changed accordingly.

Union Steward Lisa Sims, who has worked in the county assessor's office for the past 17 years, said the meeting in May will be with a portion of the county board that negotiates with the union. The meeting will be meant to determine whether or not the Teamsters will be granted the wage they seek.

At the county board meeting last week, Sims spoke in public comment session and said many of the courthouse employees are working two to three jobs to avoid getting on public aid. She said some employees still qualified for public aid even when working a second job, and the employees were just looking for a decent wage.

The Teamsters have said the county board has told them they cannot afford their request, however, the Teamsters have pointed out the county has been able to afford higher raises to the county clerk, circuit clerk and county treasurer.

Sims said following the meeting on May 16, the union will meet the same day to vote what their next move will be, based on the county board's stance.

"If (the county board) doesn't change, we will probably vote strike. Until then we won't know anything else," Sims said.

If the employees were to strike, temps would have to be hired to fill the position of those who chose to demonstrate.

Bureau County Board Chairman Dale Anderson was contacted and asked to weigh in on the county board's point of view on the matter, however he didn't wish to talk about it on the record. The board still has made no comment on the situation.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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