Teamsters confront Thorn Creek Basin officials over labor dispute

2013-03-15T22:30:00Z 2013-03-15T23:47:10Z Teamsters confront Thorn Creek Basin officials over labor disputeGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 15, 2013 10:30 pm  • 

CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Officials with the Teamsters union local that represents 13 employees of the Thorn Creek Basin Sanitary District will meet Monday with Mayor David Gonzalez, who they perceive as a supporter of their ongoing labor dispute.

The union members left their jobs Monday and have walked picket lines outside the facility at 700 West End Ave. since. On Friday, they made an appearance with other Teamsters at a sanitary district board meeting to ask questions of the board.

Also at Friday's meeting were Gonzalez and Teamsters Local 705 contract administrator Neil Messino, who said the union was pleased with the tone of the questions the mayor asked of the board.

“He really laid into them,” Messino said. “He understands our grievances with the board and the problems we have had in negotiating with them.”

Gonzalez was not available Friday for comment.

Teamsters officials said in a prepared statement that they attended Friday's meeting to question officials about the safety of treating wastewater without experienced employees on hand.

Thorn Creek Basin officials have said the union members are only a part of the staff at the facility, and that they believe they can keep it running properly during a labor strike.

But union representative Rick Rohe said in a prepared statement that the facility employs a total of 26 people, and five of those are administrative staffers who are unqualified for water treatment duties.

Rohe also said that Local 705 members are prepared to keep their picket lines going for the near future. “Union Thorn Creek employees are committed to getting a fair contract,” he said.

Jennifer Hendel, executive director of the sanitary district, was unavailable Friday to comment.

District officials have said the two sides are struck on issues related to wages and health insurance premium contributions. But union officials say they have filed an unfair labor practices charge against district officials, saying they have refused to bargain in good faith with the union.

Thorn Creek treats sewage for south suburban businesses and about 100,000 residents in Chicago Heights, Crete, Homewood, Park Forest, South Chicago Heights and Steger.

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