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updated: 7/20/2011 6:08 PM

Carpentersville public works employees ink new deal

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The village of Carpentersville and its unionized public works employees have hammered out a new contract, one that offers minimal raises and gives management new rights to crack down on sick leave abuse.

"Nobody's wild about it, nobody got exactly what they wanted, but I think there were a lot of good compromises that make it easier for us to get work done," Village President Ed Ritter said.

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The village board approved the contract unanimously Tuesday night and it is effective May 1, 2011, through April 30, 2014.

The basic terms of the contract for the 34 members of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 include:

• A 2-percent pay increase the first year of the contract, a 1-percent raise during and second year and no raise during the final year. The union has the right to reopen negotiations on pay in the third year, but only if another union within the village gets any sort of raise in its third year. Figures were not available Wednesday for a worker's base pay.

• A requirement that they pay 12 percent of their salaries into the village's health insurance premium -- they previously paid 15 percent.

• A $375 clothing allowance for public works attire, a $25 increase from the last contract. Public works employees can also only wear blank shirts or those with "Village of Carpentersville," "Department of Public Works" or the name of the division or branch in which the employee works.

• A longer probationary period. It's been extended to one year -- it was previously six months.

• An additional $2,500 upon retirement for employees with 20 or more years under their belt. That's a $400 increase from the previous contract. Four employees are currently eligible for this benefit.

The new contract allows the village to:

• More easily discipline and terminate employees exhibiting a pattern of "sick-leave abuse."

• Deny future vacation, personal or comp time in an emergency or under unusual circumstances. Public Works Director Bob Cole will determine whether an incident rises to the level of an emergency or unusual circumstance.

• Make overtime mandatory if there aren't enough workers volunteering for overtime duties.

Public works employees and village management were not available Wednesday to discuss the contract.

But like the fire and police department contract negotiations that preceded the public works deal, their talks did not involve attorneys until the very end, Ritter said.

"I think it says that we're building a good relationship with our employees, especially our new manager," Ritter said. "We've not always been happy with the overuse of lawyers for everything that happens."

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