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updated: 10/1/2012 11:50 PM

U-46 OKs contracts with two more unions

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Secretaries and custodial staff in Elgin Area School District U-46 have a new contract after the longest negotiations in the district's history.

The U-46 school board on Monday approved agreements for the District U-46 Secretarial Association and the Education Support Services Organization, both of which took about 18 months to reach.

The contracts, which are retroactive to the 2011-12 school year, include pay increases and bonuses for eligible staff in the second year, added clerical support and modified language for professional development.

U-46 Chief Operations Officer Jeff King said the contracts would cost the district about $260,000 once the pay increases and bonuses kick in.

Though secretarial staff will see a pay freeze in the first year, salary increases of 1.95 percent will be given in the second year of the four-year agreement and raises equaling half of the Consumer Price Index in the remaining two years of the contract.

The CPI in recent years has ranged from 1 to 3 percent.

In addition, increased clerical support will be available at most elementary and middle schools.

Other sites will receive increased clerical aide support under the new agreement.

The secretarial staff includes about 300 secretaries at the district's schools and central education office.

The support services organization represents about 130 employees, including custodians, grounds crews, maintenance technicians and mechanics across the district.

King said sticking points in negotiations included salary schedules and language around Reductions in Force in secretaries, while the number of issues on the table slowed progress with custodians. Additionally, the district was negotiating contracts with all six unions at the same time, King said.

Superintendent Jose Torres said the district is pleased with both agreements.

"I want to thank our team for working and staying at the table because it is only staying at the table that we can get to an agreement that we can both live with," Torres said, adding he had fewer white hairs when negotiations began more than 18 months ago. "We need to move forward with collaboration and with a lot of joint work because this is our district and we are here to serve our students and our community."

Previously, negotiations with the Elgin Teachers Association, which lasted about a year, was the longest-ever bargaining session.

The school district continues to work on a contract with its food services union, while the District U-46 Transportation Union and the District U-46 Educational Assistant Association have reached tentative agreements but have yet to ratify the agreements.

The educational assistants are expected to vote on the tentative agreement Wednesday.

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