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State Labor Board Investigation Finds Mercer County Made False Statements, Failed to Bargain in Good Faith

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

ROCK ISLAND, IL – The Executive Director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB) has issued a complaint against Mercer County related to its contract negotiations with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150, which represents sheriff deputies, correction officers, as well as courthouse and Highway Department employees.

In the complaint, ILRB Executive Director Kimberly Stevens alleged that Mercer County violated state labor law by making false public statements about negotiations, refusing to submit contract proposals for several months, and failing to negotiate in good faith with Local 150. One of the issues that the complaint discusses is the County’s repeated statements that keeping employees covered by the County’s health care plan would save as much as $500,000 compared to putting employees in Local 150’s plan. These figures were never substantiated by the County, or by County Executive Ron Fullerlove, who made false statements in the media in an attempt to cover his failure to engage in good-faith negotiations.

“I am encouraged by the ILRB’s findings that not only did Mercer County representatives fail to negotiate with us on behalf of their workforce, but that the County also engaged in a campaign of falsehoods to divert attention away from its neglect,” said IUOE Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney. “State labor laws create a framework that all parties must follow, and Mercer County will be held to the same standard that we are and that all public employers and employee bargaining representatives are in Illinois.”

Mercer County has 15 days to respond to the complaint, after which a hearing date will be set for parties to respond to the complaint at the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The complaint is attached.