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Plainfield park employees unionize

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:54 p.m. CDT

PLAINFIELD – Plainfield Township Park District maintenance employees have joined the Service Employees International Union.

The Illinois Labor Relations Board certified on Monday the Plainfield Township Park District maintenance employees’ petition to unionize with SEIU Local 73.

Employees will now meet with SEIU Local 73 representatives, elect officers and complete a survey to discuss what needs to be addressed during contract negotiations, SEIU Local 73 Communications Director Adam Rosen said.

According to certification documents, 11 petition cards were sent from 20 employees.

One card was found to be invalid, but the petition is still considered a majority interest, and employees won’t have to go through an election to vote on unionizing, Rosen said.

The labor relations board received the employees’ petition to unionize on July 2. The park district had an objection period where it could appeal or challenge the unionization efforts. But Rosen said there was no challenge and the process is moving forward.

“It doesn’t happen very often that an employer will appeal,” he said. “But it’s a promising sign they didn’t put up a fight.”

Park district Interim Executive Director Richard Grodsky and Board of Commissioners President Mary Kay Ludemann could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Ludemann has previously confirmed the park district is working with a law firm in regards to labor negotiations.

Maintenance employees tried to unionize with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 in July of 2013. But that effort didn’t receive enough support with employees and was put on hold in April.

During that process, the labor relations board found the park district violated state labor laws after the park district didn’t respond in time to a lawsuit filed by AFSCME Council 31 on behalf of employee Joel Schumaker, who claimed he was illegally disciplined and fired in November for engaging in union activities. Schumaker later reached a settlement with the park district and did not return to work.

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