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Labor complaint asks for auditor employees to get jobs back

Union says grievance agreement not met

The union for the two La Salle County auditor employees who were fired after they were charged with theft filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the county, asking to get the duo's jobs back and missed pay.

The complaint filed June 18 by Chicago attorney Melissa Auerbach, of Cornfield and Feldman, said on or about May 13, the county "refused to comply with and prevented the compliance" of a grievance resolution reached by the union with Auditor Jody Wilkinson to reinstate deputy auditors Tori Artman and Pamela Wright.

Artman and Wright are members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.

Under the resolution, the two employees in the auditor’s office were to be reinstated to their jobs and paid back pay for the time since their terminations.

The duo was fired April 25 during a Salary and Labor Committee meeting. They were initially banned in October, along with Wilkinson, from the complex by the County Board. A court ruled the County Board overstepped its bounds in barring the elected Wilkinson, who was found not guilty June 14 in the pay case.

On May 13, Artman and Wright, whose cases are pending, showed up at the county complex when it opened for the day, but both were turned away by La Salle County Board Chairman Jim Olson.

Olson told The Times on May 13 the pair no longer are county employees and are barred from the complex. Prior to that, he has said he believes from legal advice the County Board has an equal right to fire county employees.

Olson said Monday he had no comment.

The labor complaint requested through a Freedom of Information Act request with the Illinois Labor Relations Board acknowledges the county and auditor are joint employers of the auditor's office employees.

The complaint requests the employees be put in the same position they would be had they not been terminated with respect to pay and benefits.

Wilkinson has since hired Nikki Baer to a full-time union position earning $13.75 per hour. La Salle County entered into a two-month contract with a temporary service for the other auditor's office position, intending to hire a full-time union employee once that term expires.

The complaint also said the county dealt with an attorney representing the individual employees with exclusion of and without the agreement of the union, failing to give the union notice of the meetings.

In regard to the theft charges, a trial date of Monday, Aug. 12, is set for Artman with a final pretrial hearing set for Friday, Aug. 9. A trial date of Monday, Aug. 26, is scheduled for Wright with a final pretrial date set for Friday, Aug. 23.

Artman is charged with receiving $1,358 in pay for overtime prosecutors said she didn't perform. Wright also is charged with receiving $1,672 in pay for overtime prosecutors said she didn't work.

Auditor asks for closed session minutes

In a separate filing, La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly defended the county's right to keep minutes closed from a closed session meeting Oct. 2.

Following this session, the County Board voted to bar Wilkinson, along with Artman and Wright from their county offices. Wilkinson is requesting the county release these minutes.

Donnelly said Wilkinson did not ask for the minutes to be opened in a timely manner and said the county was right to close the meeting with litigation probable or imminent — one of the exceptions listed in the state's meetings law.

A status hearing for the civil matter is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, in Judge Eugene P. Daugherity's courtroom.

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