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Homewood board supports police sergeant union effort

The Homewood Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to express support for the unionization of police department sergeants.

The resolution states, in part, “The village supports and accepts without challenge that the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, Chapter #22, has been certified as the exclusive representative Sergeants of the Homewood Police Department to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment with the village.”

Police Chief Denise McGrath said the resolution gave the village an opportunity to back up its words of appreciation for staff. She said the sergeants notified her in June of their intention to unionize, and she consulted with the administration and then with the board.

“The one common theme that came up continously was everyone’s interest in expressing their appreciation and value for the employees of the village,” she said. “It quickly became a no-brainer that we would support the unionization of the sergeants to show that appreciation and value that we have for our employees.

“Take this as a heartfelt thank you for all the hard work that not only the sergeants but also the patrol officers and future sergeants do for the village and the community to make this a safe and welcoming community for anybody to live in and visit.”

Mayor Rich Hofeld concurred.

“We appreciate all you do,” he said to the police department staff in the room.

In a memo to the board, Village Manager Napoleon Haney explained that in previous attempts by the sergeants to unionize the village had been concerned about conflicts of interest that might arise if the sergeants belonged to the same union as patrol officers they supervise.

However, in this case, the sergeants will negotiate a separate collective bargaining agreement with the village.

“We are confident that this will help minimize any potential for conflicts of interests between the sergeants and the officers they supervise,” Haney said in the memo. He noted that the the Illinois Labor Relations Board has certified the sergeants’ bid to join the union.

Street sale
In other business, the board approved the sale of Homewood’s portion of 174th Street near Halsted Street to Wind Creek Casino for $43,000. 

Trustee Anne Colton said she supported the measure but asked for an explanation so it would be clear to the community why the village is selling its portion of the street. 

Village Attorney Chris Cummings went over the background of the transaction. He said when the casino company did its title search, it discovered that 174th Street was owned by the Illinois Tollway. 

The company asked the village to purchase its portion from the tollway. The company then planned to buy the street from the village, he said. That arrangement was considered easier to accomplish than the company trying to buy the street directly from the tollway, Cummings said. 

“The village paid $43,000 and Wind Creek will pay $43,000,” he said. “It’s a wash.”

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