Striking Winnebago County employees are going back to work. County and union leaders negotiated through the night and struck a deal early Friday morning. They put down their picket signs and tore down make shift strike command posts. The relief is written all over their faces, after a week of walking the picket line.
After a Marathon negotiation session, the county and local 4-73 reached a tentative agreement. Workers don't know the details of the new, two-year contract yet, but are glad to leave their picket signs behind.
"I'm ready to get back to work. But if I don't think the offer is acceptable, I'm ready to picket again," says David Kobes.
Union leaders say it's not exactly the deal they wanted, but it's a start.
"We know this isn't the last time we're going to bargain. We'll be bargaining again in two years. What we didn't get this year; two years is a short time," Jay Ferraro says.
"They call it negotiations because we both gave, gave in to certain issues and that's what's important," says Kris Kohn.
Both sides say the talks were heated and trying, but they hope everyone can move forward.
"We need to get back to the job of serving the people of Winnebago County," adds Kris.
Some employees actually went back to work Friday; others will head back over the weekend or on Monday. Union members still need to approve the tentative deal. They'll vote on the offer on Wednesday. Then it will go before the county board for final approval.
Saturday from 10 until 3, local 4-73 will give out striker benefits at River Bluff for nursing home employees.