East Alton, IL – Passers-by saw an impressive site at the Wood River Township offices on Oct. 9 – about 20 Machinist District 9 members and one well-dressed rat, supporting the union’s agreement to organize deputy assessors and help them get an overdue raise.
The contract was negotiated by the union with Assessor Sandy Shaw but was blocked by Township Supervisor Mike Babcock, who hired an expensive anti-union law firm to fight the agreement rather than give the six workers a modest raise.
Babcock is also the Republican candidate for the 111th District in the Illinois House of Representatives, facing AFL-CIO-endorsed incumbent Democrat Monica Bristow.
The Machinists asked supporters to call or email Babcock to ask how much the attorneys are costing taxpayers, at 618-259-2366 or email@example.com.
Machinists Business Representative Roy Collins said that when certification papers for the new bargaining unit were sent to Babcock, he refused to accept them. So the union met instead with the assessor, deputy assessor, clerk and shop steward, who negotiated a tentative agreement. The workers approved it, and it was sent it to the township board.
A HIGH-PRICED COMMITTEE
That’s when Babcock got involved again.
“They rejected the tentative agreement and refused to recognize or sign it,” Collins said. “At that point, the supervisor said he was going to put a committee together to meet for further negotiations.”
It turned out the “committee” was a couple of high-priced, anti-union lawyers.
Collins said the union has a question for the community.
“What we would like the citizens of the township to ask the supervisor is, ‘What is fiscally responsible?’ We are asking for very modest wage increases that are not effective until April 2019, and some slight increases in vacation accrual. Other than that, almost everything in the agreement is the same as the handbook and language that is in the highway department for other employees of the township,” he said.
The deputy assessors quite properly stayed inside, working, while the Machinists were outside. But drivers and passersby made their support for the union quite clear.
BABCOCK WON’T SUPPORT UNIONS
The Greater Madison County Federation of Labor Executive Board sent letter in support of the union and the workers and reminding voters that Babcock is fighting their legal rights to join a union.
“Since Babcock is seeking higher office as state representative for our area in the upcoming election, it is critical that we inform you that Mike Babcock is against union members exercising their legal rights to join a union for a voice at work,” the letter said. “Please keep this information in mind when you vote. Mike Babcock will not support union members if he is elected to represent us in Springfield.”