Chicago Zoological Society’s Economic Offer Is a Slap in the Face Felt by All Employees

| May 9, 2022
The Union bargaining committee arrived at the Zoo at 9am on Friday, May 6th in the hopes of receiving a long overdue and meaningful response to the Union’s economic proposals. In what has become the norm in negotiations, the Society continued its delay tactics by rescheduling bargaining less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin. The Society claimed that they would not have a “finalized” economic proposal to present until 11am – two full hours after the time the parties had previously agreed to begin negotiations. Sadly, the wait was not worthwhile as the Company’s 11am economic offer was chock full of concessions and insulting wage increases of 1.75% for the majority of bargaining unit employees. Additionally, the Society introduced a new proposal to move to a PTO system which would convert all days off to one bucket for personal, sick, and vacation time. The Society’s proposal states in no uncertain terms that the PTO system be a “reduction in total paid time off”; see the Society’s wage and PTO proposal here. The Union encourages all bargaining unit employees to review the Company’s offer.
Adding insult to injury, after the Union expressed its tremendous disgust and disappointment with the Society’s disrespectful offer, the Society doubled down and claimed that their offer was consistent with the “market.” In fact, during bargaining, the Society’s lead negotiator defended the Society’s offer and claimed that its wage offer made the Society a “premier employer.”
“If this is what a premier employer looks like, then it’s a scary world we live in. The Society needs to do better, period. These negotiations have been nothing but a constant bad faith delay. In six sessions the Society has yet to make meaningful movement to address the issues most important to their hardworking employees who have shown up and worked tirelessly in a pandemic,” said John Coli, Jr. Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. “It is especially ironic that a management team that consistently works from home would try to take away PTO time from employees who actually show up to work.”
Despite the Society’s failure to bargain in good faith, the Union bargaining committee remained steadfast and presented an economic counterproposal to the Society’s insulting offer. Unlike during past negotiations when the parties were able to reach a middle ground on nearly all issues, the Society has done nothing. Given the Society’s lack of progress in negotiations, the Union demanded in person negotiations going forward. In response, Management cancelled the next session.
“If the Society doesn’t change the trajectory of negotiations quickly, we may be taking a strike authorization vote on June 8th instead of voting on an agreement. Morale has never been this low and Management has never been this hard-headed while being so clearly disjointed,” added Coli. “It takes two parties to reach an agreement, and the Society just doesn’t seem interested.”
A copy of the Zoo’s most recent financial disclosures can be found here (2020) and here (2019). “Based on these financials, the Society clearly has money and it’s high time they spend it on their workforce.”
In the coming weeks the Union will be sending out information about unfair labor practice strikes so that members have the information necessary in advance of the vote.
The parties are set to resume in person negotiations on Wednesday, May 23rd.
If you would like a copy of the Society’s full proposal or have any questions, please email Business Agent Nicholas Micaletti at (847) 696-7500 or [email protected].

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Category: ZOO

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