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Local 150 union workers set to protest Algonquin Township highway commissioner

Action set Wednesday to denounce Gasser

Andy Rucker (left) of Cary and William Mosier of Niles protest Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser's dismissal of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 workers in front of the Algonquin Township office building June 14, 2017, in Crystal Lake.
Andy Rucker (left) of Cary and William Mosier of Niles protest Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser's dismissal of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 workers in front of the Algonquin Township office building June 14, 2017, in Crystal Lake.

More than 100 union workers are expected to flank six inflatable rats Wednesday night outside Algonquin Township in protest of Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser’s firing of workers last year and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees the road district spent in a subsequent legal fight.

“They’re coming out to protest Andrew Gasser’s actions,” said Ed Maher, spokesman for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. “The way this has been handled by the highway department is just shocking. The public should hold Andrew Gasser accountable for this.”

Gasser could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Maher said the protest will include six inflatable rats nicknamed “Scabby.”

The protest is pegged in connection with Algonquin Township’s 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday at 3702 Route 14. The board will audit the latest bills from Gasser’s Woodstock attorney, Robert Hanlon.

His latest bills total $34,980. In one example, on July 15, the $400-an-hour attorney billed the road district $7,760 for work related to a lawsuit between Gasser and Local 150.

On July 10, Hanlon billed for two hours ($800) for his preparation for court. For traveling to and from a Waukegan courthouse, he billed $1,080. For one item on the same day, he did not charge Gasser, noting “N/C” – “no charge” – for 15 minutes of work described as “Email to Little Eddie NWH re false statements.”

Since June 2017, Hanlon’s firm has billed the road district almost $400,000.

Hanlon’s bills have accounted for a large portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees that mounted in multiple lawsuits over the past 16 months.

Lawsuits have included a labor battle between the highway department and Local 150, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and an in-house fight involving Gasser and Clerk Karen Lukasik.

In August, Gasser’s lawsuit seeking to invalidate a union contract his predecessor signed was dismissed.

Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Jasica rejected the highway commissioner’s arguments and dismissed with prejudice his latest complaint – meaning Gasser won’t have another chance to refile a complaint in this case.

But the complex and expensive labor case is far from over.

Gasser and his attorney are angling to win the case on appeal.

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