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Labor union wants Algonquin Township highway commissioner held in contempt of court

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser has been ordered to appear at a December court hearing to defend against a charge that he should be held in contempt for failing to sort out grievances related to the firings and wages of several union workers he dismissed after taking office.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser has been ordered to appear at a December court hearing to defend against a charge that he should be held in contempt for failing to sort out grievances related to the firings and wages of several union workers he dismissed after taking office.

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser has been ordered to appear at a December court hearing to defend himself against a charge that he should be held in contempt for failing to sort out grievances related to the firings and wages of several union workers he dismissed after taking office.

On Sept. 20, a Lake County judge in Waukegan granted a request from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 to compel arbitration after the dismissal of a lawsuit Gasser launched in an attempt to invalidate a union contract his predecessor signed.

Counsel representing Local 150 reached out to the highway department to begin that arbitration process, but they received no response.

Gasser could not be reached for comment.

Local 150 moved to have Gasser held in contempt of court. Gasser now is slated to appear Dec. 11 to make a case for why he should not be held in contempt of court, according to a Tuesday filing.

On the same day, Lake County Circuit Judge Daniel L. Jasica ordered that the road district also must provide to the union all emails pertaining to Algonquin Township business sent to and from Gasser between May 15, 2017, and June 12, 2017, including emails sent and received from Gasser’s personal email address. 

Local 150 and James Sweeney, the union’s president-business manager, filed a lawsuit June 23 against the road district for violations of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act after Gasser wholly denied a request for being “unduly burdensome,” according to the
Local 150 legal team.

Records show that the FOIA request was seeking “all emails to and from Andrew Gasser from April 15, 2017, to present, including personal emails used for Algonquin Township business.”

In response, Gasser and the highway department filed a counterclaim challenging the legitimacy of the union’s collective bargaining agreement, which Local 150 associate general counsel Rob Paszta said has nothing to do with the FOIA request.

Local 150 responded to Gasser’s counterclaim with a motion to dismiss, and the request was granted in August after months of legal acrobatics.

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