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Settlement Reportedly Reached in Plainfield Park District Labor Case

The district will reportedly comply with an Illinois Labor Relations Board ruling after an employee was allegedly fired in retaliation for union activity.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
The Plainfield Park District last week responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from Plainfield Patch, saying no settlement documents currently exist between the park district and former maintenance staffer Joel Schumaker.

But park district Director of Communications Doug Booth reportedly told the Herald News that an agreement has been reached in a complaint involving Schumaker filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.

Last week, Booth told Patch he could not confirm whether Schumaker has been offered his job back, as ordered in a ruling by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, or offer details of the apparent settlement.

"All I can say is it looks like something the board will have to discuss at their meeting on March 4," Booth said.

In January, the labor board issued a ruling finding that Plainfield village trustee and former Executive Director Garrett Peck, who has since resigned, and current Interim Executive Director Gene Coldwater had interrogated Schumaker and a coworker regarding their union activity.

Peck was also accused of disciplining Schumaker by reassigning him to a new position before ultimately firing him, allegedly in retaliation for talking to coworkers about signing union cards. 

It's unclear whether the park district will have to pay Schumaker for the wages missed since he was fired. Under the labor board ruling, the park board was required to offer back pay plus 7 percent interest.

At a Jan. 24 special board meeting, park district labor attorney Dave Miller said the ruling came after he missed a Dec. 17, 2013, deadline to respond to the complaint. Miller said the failure to meet the deadline was the result of his misunderstanding whether the 15-day deadline meant 15 business days or calendar days.

At the time, Miller said he planned to file an appeal.

Under the labor board ruling, the park district would also be required to post a notice to employees for 60 days, letting staff know about the violations and outlining their rights to engage in self-unionization if they choose and to be free of retaliation for those activities. Click here to read the entire ruling.

In August 2013, the park board voted to set aside $70,000 for legal expenses, up from $20,000 the year before, to cover potential legal costs related to unionization.

At the time, Peck denied a rumor that employees were threatened or asked not to sign their union cards.
Frank March 01, 2014 at 07:13 PM
What we have at hand may or may not be punishable crimes, but MOST CERTAINLY, at the VERY LEAST, are cases where heavy handed action MUST be taken to protect the public interests.
Vicky Polito March 01, 2014 at 07:21 PM
I'm getting to the point of having travelled a lot of miles in life and one of the things I've learned is that people, especially over the age of 20 or so, who are unethical or commit bad acts never do it "just this one time". The guy or gal who bullies a co-worker or takes a few bucks from petty cash never says to themselves "phew! I got away with that but I better stop while I'm ahead and not temp my fate!" This is also why ethical persons of strong and honest character almost always do the right thing, the fair thing. Character and behavior are much more a function of habit than we think.
Frank March 01, 2014 at 07:25 PM
"And really, do we want to try to correct stupidity or greed in our society?" My answer to that, MC, would be "IT PROBABLY CAN'T BE DONE, BUT WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES AND EVERYONE ELSE TO AT LEAST TRY TO CONTAIN IT." Furthermore, if the Mayor of this Village doesn't step in and do something heavy handed to contain it, we can write ourselves off as the joke we will (if we haven't already) become.
my conscience March 01, 2014 at 07:58 PM
He will do the right thing.
Frank March 01, 2014 at 10:20 PM
Furthermore yet, MC, I support Tim to take Peck's place on the Village Board. That would be more than fitting. Problem is, Tim probably isn't stupid enough to want to do it and Peck is still probably so high on himself that he hasn't yet realized he's effed up so bad that there's soon to be a need. Maybe Terry Burghard's the man. Yeah, that's the ticket! LAUGHABLE!!!!! (Can't you just hear my guffaws?) Oh, and by the way, even though we've gotten off on this tangent, nobody has forgotten about the disarray and potential criminal activity at the PTPD, those that have caused it and those that will ultimately suffer for it. This is merely amusing discourse to kill time. Dismantling that ROT has not taken a back seat to anything.

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