Contract negotiations between Will County and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees left each side accusing the other of not being prepared to make progress, according to news releases from both groups.
Members of the AFSCME went on strike Nov. 18, including employees in the county court system, health department, highway department, Sunny Hill Nursing Home, county jail, and in the offices of the sheriff, coroner, recorder, assessor, clerk, chief judge, circuit clerk, executive and state's attorney.
According to a Will County news release, Will County Executive Larry Walsh said the AFSCME did not come with a counter proposal on a contract.
“After a week of picketing county facilities, and over a week since the last negotiations session broke off, the union was not able to give us a meaningful counter offer and move us towards a resolution,” Walsh said in the release.
In a news release from the AFSCME, AFSCME Local 1028 president Dave Delrose said the union was prepared to bargain but the county was not ready.
"Inexplicably, the county failed to bring its consultants on health care issues," he said in the release. "As a result, county officials said they were unable to fully respond to AFSCME's proposals on health premiums."
In the Will County release, Walsh countered that the union could have requested that information last week, showing a lack of preparation.
"This type of conduct has been a recurring problem and has led to repeated delays throughout the many months of negotiations," he said. "This has to stop if we want to reach an agreement."
According to its release, the county is accusing the union of distributing propaganda flyers with inaccurate information about what the county was offering in the negotiations.
In the union release, Delrose said some progress is being made but he is disturbed by what he called a mischaracterization of the negotiations by Walsh.
"Progress may be slow and difficult, but the situation isn't helped by county officials hurling insults instead of working to reach an agreement that restores county services as soon as possible," he said in the release.