Chicago – About 18,000 Cook County union workers ended an 18-day strike and returned to work July 13 after reaching a tentative contract agreement, union leaders announced.
It was the longest strike ever for Service Employees International Union Local 73 and the longest public sector strike in recent Chicago history.
They won a four-year contract with a total raise of 8.5 percent, plus hazard pay and temporary bonuses for front-line workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The tentative agreement also establishes seniority as a key factor in hiring and promotions.
Left unresolved are raising wage floors for the lowest-paid workers and improving annual pay raise steps, both to be arbitrated by a neutral panel, the union said.
Local 73 had been negotiating the contract for 10 months when the strike began on June 25.
“Cook County workers showed real bravery by going out on strike to demand respect from the county,” said Dian Palmer, the local president. “This contract has real wins for workers that they should be proud of as it turns the page on decades of Local 73 members being considered second-class citizens of the county.”
Local 73 represents technicians, physician assistants, service and maintenance workers, among others in the offices of the county board president, county clerk, sheriff and Cook County Health, which includes two hospitals and clinics.