Union complains Treasurer violated labor act; Prenzler says 'more political than factual'
A local representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) claims Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler violated the Illinois Labor Relations Act.
AFSCME representative Steve Joiner said a complaint was filed with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, accusing Prenzler of refusing to sign for receipt of or accept a grievance from the exclusive representative of employees of the Treasurer's office.
Attorney John Gilbert, representing the County, responded to AFSCME's complaint Thursday.
"I suggested to the labor board the case should be dismissed, because the issue has been addressed, and it's really moot, and at some point, they'll make a decision," Gilbert said over the telephone Friday.
Joiner said the complaint stems from Prenzler contracting work to private vendors that employees in the Treasurer's office would normally do, at no cost to taxpayers.
"Our members are still doing the work," Joiner said. "He's paying someone additional funds to do the work."
Prenzler called AFSCME's accusations "more political than factual."
"Madison County treasurers from John Shimkus to Fred Bathon and Frank Miles have used non-union part-time employees without complaint from AFSCME," Prenzler said.
According to Joiner, after Prenzler refused to accept the grievance, the steward serving the grievance wrote on the grievance form that Prenzler refused to sign and placed it in an envelope sending him a copy by a steward who worked in Prenzler's office.
Joiner said the union steward - who works in Prenzler's office - went to his office and tried to give him a copy of the grievance, but that he dismissed her, stating he did not want it and to get out of his office.
Prenzler was elected in 2010 and is not on the ballot in next month's election.
He said his administration has worked to reduce costs for taxpayers.
"The truth is that through attrition and other cutbacks, I have reduced expenses by 30 percent ($600,000) over two years while increasing services," Prenzler said. "Since I became treasures we have four fewer managers and two union employees retire.
More people are paying their bills via online bill pay, he said.
"I do value the employees in the office and their opinions, but the reality is that I did not replace two AFSCME employees when they retired, because there wasn't the workload that there had been prior to automated payments," he said.
"Public employee unions have to understand that times have changed in the public sector much like they have in the private sector."
Prenzler went on to say that the federal government and the state of Illinois are in dire financial straits due to not making common sense decisions.
"Tax payers are struggling with ever-increasing property taxes and election officials have a duty to taxpayers to operate efficiently," he said.
Gilbert also said that Prenzler wanted to speak to him first before accepting a grievance.
"She [the employee] didn't respond, but Steve Joiner, who's a staff representative at AFSCME objected to that," Gilbert said. "I wrote Joiner a letter, saying Prenzler would accept the grievance, and he or a member of his staff would accept future grievances."