Almost two months after approving a three-year agreement with its faculty, the Elgin Community College board this week signed off on a three-year deal with its support staff.
Under the agreement, which already has been ratified by employees, support staff salaries will rise by 2 percent in each year of the contract, but employees will have to start paying a porting of their health insurance premiums.
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"It was a win-win for both sides under the financial circumstances," ECC board Chairman Robert McBride said.
Union President Phil Howard said: "We were able to get the best agreement we could, given the current (economic) climate."
Support staffers will have to pay 5 percent of their single-coverage premiums in the 2011-12 academic year, 7.5 percent in 2012-13 and 10 percent in 2013-14. Previously, the college paid 100 percent of support staffers' premiums. Those are the same percentages full-time instructors will have to pay under the faculty agreement approved in May.
"There has to be a greater contribution," McBride said. "There has to be a short-term and long-term understanding that ultimately you'd like to get to a 20-percent contribution."
Howard said the increased contribution rates are consistent with national trends but added: "We hope that at the next bargaining (session), we're not asked to cover more."
The new three-year agreement replaces a five-year contract; support staff contracts have typically been in effect for five years, Howard said.
"That pay increase is below CPI (the consumer price index)," Howard said. "It's our hope the economy will be on a better footing in three years and we will be able to make up some lost ground."
There were no changes to retirement provisions.
Negotiations began March 18 and ended June 30. The support staff union ratified the agreement Tuesday, and ECC trustees later approved the deal in a 5-0 vote. Trustees Robert Getz and Donna Redmer were absent.
As with the faculty union in May, Howard declined to provide the ratification vote totals but said the deal passed by a "significant majority."
The Support Staff of Elgin Community College Association has 382 members, including 181 full-time and 201 part-time employees, according to the college.
The membership includes much of the non-classroom staff at ECC, including secretaries, custodians, grounds management, food service, information technology, marketing an communications, officials said.