Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser lost his battle in court fighting the labor union that represents his employees, but he now is angling to win on an appeal.
On Nov. 21, Gasser’s $400-an-hour Woodstock attorney, Robert Hanlon, filed a notice that the highway commissioner would appeal to Illinois’ 2nd District Appellate Court, further drawing out an expensive legal fight that has drained the road district and taxpayers of more than $400,000.
Gasser and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
In August, Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Jasica dismissed Gasser’s lawsuit seeking to invalidate a union contract his predecessor signed. Two times before that dismissal, the judge gave Gasser a chance to refile his complaint with new arguments challenging the collective bargaining agreement.
The legal counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 got the court to compel arbitration to address Gasser’s termination of union employees and several grievances alleging contract violations. Counsel representing Local 150 reached out to the highway department to begin that arbitration process, but it received no response.
Gasser has been ordered to appear at a Dec. 11 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.
The road district’s battle with Local 150 sparked a protest Nov. 14 on township property that included 10 “Scabby the Rat” inflatables and picket signs lambasting Gasser’s spending on legal fees.
Protesters’ signs featured a cartoon of Gasser in a spacesuit with a nickname, “Gasser the Rat.” A truck bed billboard parked across Route 14 read, “Shame on Andrew Gasser.” Another popular picket sign said, “Stop wasting taxpayer dollars.”
Since Gasser took office in May 2017, he has spent more than $400,000 on lawyers.
A briefing schedule has not yet been set for the appeals process in the 2nd District Appellate Court.