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Battle lines drawn in Cook County strike

By staff |
July 1, 2021
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Hundreds of strikers takeover building that houses Chicago City Hall
Hundreds of strikers takeover building that houses Chicago City Hall and the Cook County offices. (Cathleen Jensen)

Chicago, IL - Striking members of SEIU Local 73 in the highway and transportation division of Cook County government shut down a construction site in Buffalo Grove, a town in the suburbs northwest of Chicago. This two-mile long bridge project was shut down on Friday, June 25, the first day of the strike. The union Operating Engineers, Laborers, and Carpenters are respecting the picket line at the county construction site in Buffalo Grove. This is a $60 million project with $29 million in federal funds.

Monday, June 28, in the southwest suburbs, the same division of Local 73 members shut down construction at 95th Street and Roberts Road in Hickory Hills at 6 a.m.

Tuesday, June 29 was the most dramatic day of protest yet. Hundreds of workers in purple marched around the building which houses Chicago City Hall and the Cook County offices. Then they marched in and occupied the building for an hour. Accompanied by drums and cymbals, they sat down and with purple whistles, filled the air with the noise.

Purple is SEIU’s union color.

After an hour, they marched across the street to Daley Plaza, where Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), addressed the rally. “Your dignity is embedded in what you are willing to fight for and win. CTU is here to say if you need six or seven days, we got your back. And if you need any more than that, we’ll shut it down with a sea of red and purple!”

Red the is union color of CTU.

After the downtown protest, 50 strikers went to Hyde Park to protest at a fundraiser for Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. The politicians and big donors attending the event had to walk through a formation of strikers. Preckwinkle herself had to get through the picketers, who booed her on the way in. The workers appealed to Preckwinkle’s supporters to give their money instead to the hardship fund to supports the strikers. Local 73 members include the lowest-paid employees of Cook County.

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