Gibbons responds to AFSCME suit brought on behalf of former worker

By Ann Maher | May 10, 2013

Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons on Friday reacted to a suit filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) on behalf of a former employee, saying his office has been in continuous talks for months with the worker and his attorneys trying to resolve the matter.

AFSCME filed suit May 6 against Madison County and Gibbons over the failure to reinstate Andrew Kane to his former position as  secretary in the Felony Division, pursuant to an arbitrator’s Jan. 22 decision.

Gibbons said that Kane was terminated for alleged criminal conduct, including making threats toward other employees. He also allegedly engaged in racial discrimination, according to Gibbons.

Gibbons said the situation was “extremely serious” and that Kane’s conduct was “intolerable.”

Kane responded to Gibbons' statements saying they are "inaccurate" and "have also been refuted by the arbitrator who issued the award."

According to the arbitrator's ruling, terminating Kane's employment based on allegations that he made threats to other employees "was excessive."

The arbitrator directed Kane's discharge to be reduced to a suspension for time served.

The arbitrator also found that a charge of racial discrimination "did not rise to the level that would warrant disciplinary action."

Kane said that the County could have challenged the arbitrator’s binding decision within 90 days. But by ignoring the deadline, Kane said taxpayers would suffer court costs and attorney’s fees incurred by AFSCME in order to have the award enforced.

The suit asks the Court to enforce the arbitration award by reinstating Kane, pay back pay and benefits with interest from Jan. 22 until the date of his reinstatement and pay the costs and fees associated with bringing the action. The position of "Secretary II" held by Kane pays approximately $35,000 annually.

He is represented by Melissa J. Auerbach of Cornfield and Feldman in Chicago, a firm that appears to exclusively represent labor unions.

Kane also said he was disturbed by the State’s Attorney office decision to ignore a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

“The complete disregard of the collective bargaining agreement should be of great concern to all employees of Madison County bound by such agreement,” Kane said in an email message.

Gibbons said that his office is planning to schedule mediation in the matter.

He also said the County has a good working relationship with AFSCME.

“We have a great deal of respect…and certainly we will honor the collective bargaining agreement.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated. 

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