Sen. Bernie Sanders shared his support for Cook County workers Saturday as they head into their third week of a strike amid negotiations for a new contract.
“I stand in solidarity with @SEIU73 and 2,500+ Cook County workers — custodians, technicians, & clerks who are on strike for a new contract,” Sanders tweeted. “It’s outrageous that Cook County received $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan but still refuses to negotiate a fair deal for workers.”
Saturday marked the 16th day of the labor stoppage for SEIU Local 73, making it the longest strike in the union’s history. The county workers’ walkout began at the end of June after nine months of negotiations without agreement on a new contract.
The union — which represents custodians, technicians and administrative assistants — is seeking better pay and more opportunities for advancement.
On July 1, SEIU Local 73 turned down the county’s offer of an 8.5% wage increase over the next four years, stating it was less than that offered to other unions, according to lead union negotiator Larry Alcoff.
Some workers staged a sit-in Wednesday outside Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office after getting no response to the union’s latest proposal delivered Friday.
Sanders, a socialist folk hero and former presidential candidate, has been a longtime supporter of union organizing in the city. He came to the city in 2019 to rally with Chicago Teachers Union members ahead of what ended up being an 11-day strike.