Teamsters Local 700 Files for Temporary Restraining Order Against Cook County Merit Board

On Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, Teamsters Local 700 filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in the Circuit Court of Cook County against the Sheriff and the Merit Board. The motion seeks to prohibit the Merit Board from hearing or deciding any further disciplinary cases of bargaining unit employees unless, and until, the Merit Board is properly constituted.

Currently, the Merit Board has only five members and includes one member who was appointed to less than a six-year term. Both are violations of the Merit Board Act, which created the Merit Board. Without an injunction, the Merit Board could continue to render decisions in disciplinary cases despite having no authority to do so. Those decisions have no legal force.

The Circuit Court scheduled the hearing on its motion for Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

On Sept. 27, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld an intermediate appellate court decision that held that the Cook County Merit Board was illegally constituted if it includes any member who was appointed for less than a six-year term. Between 2011 to the present, the Merit Board has included at least one member who was appointed to such an inappropriate term. The intermediate appellate court also found that any decision of the Merit Board which included an improperly appointed member was legally invalid.

On October 27, 2017, Teamsters Local 700 filed a lawsuit against multiple parties of Cook County challenging how the Merit Board was constituted and its decisions. Part of Teamsters Local 700’s challenge included the fact that the Merit Board was operating with less than the statutorily-required seven members.

“While the lawsuit waits to be heard, Teamsters Local 700 found it essential to take immediate action and stop the Merit Board from hearing any appeals as it is our union members’ contractual right to have a legally constituted Merit Board,” said Teamsters Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski. “We will always advocate for our members’ rights and what is best for the membership as a whole. This motion was a necessary step the union needed to take to block the Sheriff from continuing to act unlawfully at the will of our members.”

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