Appellate court determines Kane court security can strike
By Matt Hanley firstname.lastname@example.org July 27, 2012 2:24PM
Updated: November 30, 2012 10:56AM
A recent appellate court ruling took away Kane County court security officers’ right to arbitration, but ruled they do have the right to strike.
The 32 court security officers, who have been working without a contract since 2008, sued the county in 2010. Union attorney Tim O’Neil said security officers were seeking a cost-of-living increase but were offered a $500 stipend instead.
Courtroom security officers typically guard the entrances to county courthouses in St. Charles Township and Geneva, as well as the branch courts in Elgin and Aurora. The officers carry guns and can make arrests in the courtroom. They inspect every person and possessions entering the courthouse.
The security officers argued that they are among the public safety personnel who are not allowed to strike, like police officers. For police, deep contract disputes are resolved by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, a neutral third-party arbitrator. Kane County attorneys argued that the courtroom security officers are not in this protected class and do have the right to strike.
In November 2011, a Kane County judge ruled that the court security union did have the right to public safety interest arbitration, which allows the ILRB to mediate the dispute. The county appealed the decision. Earlier this month, the appellate court ruled that since the court security officers’ union did not negotiate for arbitration, they were not eligible to request it.
However, in a unanimous decision written by Appellate Court Judge Kathryn Zenoff, the court ruled that the union does have the right to strike anytime after their contract has expired. Court security officers did not meet the legal definition of officials who were not allowed to strike.
The union’s attorney could not be reached for comment on whether the members intended to strike.