CHA Security Officers Seek CCPA Help In Union
IPSN Oct. 12, 1997
A COMMITTEE representing some 200 Chicago Housing Authority Security Officers has come
to CCPA for help in dumping Local 1 of the Service Employees International Union. The
Committee, led by Security Officer Russ Stigger, charges that Local 1 has spent the last
six years ignoring the needs of the Officers, playing favorites and staging bogus
One of the groups major complaints about Local 1 is the highly questionable practice
of counting members who do not vote as having voted Yes, the New Union
Committee says. This technique was apparently used in approving the original 1991 Contract
between Local 1 and the CHA, as well as ratifying another two-year Contract and a one-year
extension that expired September 30th of this year.
LOCAL 1 is out, Officer Stigger says. That sentiment was echoed by dozens of
Officers in a recent information-gathering trip that Stigger and CCPA Staff Representative
Joe Longmeyer made to some nine different CHA sites.
At virtually every stop, CHA Security Officers had horror stories to share about how Local
1 officials ignore legitimate grievances and always seem to be on vacation
when members need their union most. One particularly galling complaint that was repeated
time and again is the case of a CHA Security Officer who quit the force, was off the job
for more than two years, then came back at the highest rate of pay, jumping over dozens of
other Officers on the Seniority List in the process.
In what was described as an obvious case of favoritism, the Officer who left, then came
back at the top of the list, was seen as an insult to those Officers who had
to earn their own salary increases based on the Seniority List alone, and not clout. In
that case, Local 1 circulated a feeble letter blaming the whole affair on the CHA, which
Stigger and his fellow Officers regard as a joke.
ON OCTOBER 1st, the day after the Local 1 Contract expired, the Combined Counties Police
Association filed a Petition with the Illinois Local Labor Relations Board asking that a
union representation election be held. The CCPA Petition was supported by signed
Authorization Cards from just under 50 percent of the 200 Officers in the CHA Security
Force. The Labor Boards rules are that cards must be submitted by at least 30
percent of workers in order for an election to be held.
THEN, THE DAY after the CCPA Petition was filed, Local 1 posted a notice at one of the CHA
Security Officer sites saying that a new three-year Contract had been approved by a vote
of 28 to 21. Even if that vote was fair and accurate, the total of 49 is only about half
the number of Officers whose signed Authorization Cards were submitted with the CCPA
Petition. And, Local 1s piddling vote total is only about 25 percent of the
approximate 200 Officers who make up the CHA Security Force.
ALSO, in a blatant attempt at vote rigging, the Local 1 people originally announced that
voting on a new Contract would be held at the Local 1 office at 940 West Adams in Chicago.
However, several hours after the voting was to have ended, when it became apparent that
only a handful of the nearly 200 Security Officers were actually voting, Local 1 officials
took the ballot box to a CHA site at 1850 West Washington to hustle up more votes, which
is a clear violation of Labor Board election practices.
NEVERTHELESS, Local 1 was last heard from trying to make the claim that they have a valid
Contract in effect covering CHA Security Officers. However, Sharon Cruse Boyd, the CHA
Human Resources executive in charge of Contract negotiations made it clear that no
Security Officer Contract would be signed without official certification from the Labor
CCPA Secretary Treasurer Sol Smith pointed out that it takes two to sign a Contract.
The CHA is not going to sign a Contract with Local 1 unless they win an election and,
considering how the Officers feel about how theyve been treated over the last six
years, thats not going to happen, Smith said.
Smith said the Labor Board could be expected to hold a Hearing on the CCPA Petition
in the coming weeks, with an election to follow in six weeks or so after that. Meanwhile,
both Sol Smith and Russ Stigger are actively bringing new people into the CHA New Union
Committee. The group is already holding a series of organizing meetings during which
Officers are being polled on what they would like to see in their next Contract.
AS THE WEEKS go by, Smith said, all CHA Security Officers will be asked to make specific
suggestions on what they want CCPA to demand in Contract talks with the CHA.
LOCAL 1 claims to have gotten the CHA to agree to a three percent wage increase in the
Contract proposal that was subjected to the bogus October 1st vote. But compared to what
CCPA routinely negotiates in its Contracts, if three percent is all Local 1 got, they
werent even trying.
CCPA CONTRACTS have historically set the standard for labor relations agreements in
Illinois. Since the first CCPA Contract was signed in 1968, this Union has always
negotiated more for its members than any other labor organization before or since. In
fact, before the first CCPA Contract, there was no such thing as a signed Contract
covering Police or other law enforcement groups. Since that time, dues-grabbing outfits
like Local 1 have done more to disappoint their members than to distinguish themselves on
the members behalf.
ALTHOUGH LOCAL 1 is part of one of the largest labor organizations in the country, it is
still primarily a janitors union. All of the members of the CCPA, by contrast, work
directly in some area of law enforcement. Our members include sworn Police Officers,
Correctional Officers, Security Officers, Investigators, Dispatchers and several
categories of law enforcement support people. Also, all CCPA people work for government
agencies while the great majority of members of the Service Employees International Union
(which is Local 1s parent organization) are in private industry.
NEGOTIATING CONTRACTS for Police is nowhere near the same thing as negotiating
Contracts for janitors or truck drivers, Sol Smith says. And you need a whole
different set of skills to handle a grievance for a cop than to solve a problem for a
janitor, Smith says.
ALSO, a sister local of Local 1, Local 25 of the Service Employees International Union,
was cited in a just-published report by the Chicago Crime Commission that detailed a
pattern of corruption and nepotism that resulted in a takeover of the Local by the
According to the Crime Commission report entitled New Faces of Organized Crime1997,
Local 25 President Eugene Moats was accused of converting more than $100,000 of union
funds to his own personal use and placing family members in high-paying union positions at
the expense of better-qualified candidates. Also, Moats allegedly tried to pass a special
tax against Local 25s 13,500 members to make up a $470,000 shortfall in union funds
that he was responsible for.
INTERESTINGLY, although the Service Employees International Union sued Moats for $1
million in damages in connection with the Local 25 corruption disclosures, the union did
not bring criminal charges against him. Moats was kicked out of office last year but
because he did not face the judge and a potential prison sentence, the SEIU has been able
to pretend that it does not have any organized crime problems.
In an odd bit of irony, the Crime Commission reports that Moats was originally brought
into SEIU Local 25 to clean up the corruption and organized crime influence that
plagued the Local.
The CHA New Union Committees Russ Stigger, commenting on the SEIUs corruption
problems, observed that when we bust somebody at Housing for stealing $20, that dude
goes to jail. But when one of these janitors union guys steals hundreds of
thousands, they give him a pension.
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