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updated: 11/15/2012 4:02 PM

Elgin's last union group agrees to no raises in 2011

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When Elgin City Council members approved labor agreements with clerical technical and permanent part-time and custodial union employees Wednesday, they were passing contract extensions that already have expired.

The two SEIU Local 73 groups, which represent about 115 city employees, were the final union holdouts on the labor agreement that extended their prior contracts through the end of last year. The police, fire and public works employee unions agreed to forgo raises in 2011, but compensation was the main issue holding up negotiations that spanned two years for the SEIU units, according to City Manager Sean Stegall. They did agree to no raises, but the extension agreement also allows for a one-time allotment of personal time for clerical technical employees -- they'll get 16 hours.

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Council members approved the two contracts Wednesday without any public discussion, leaving city staff members and union representatives to begin work on the successor contracts. Elgin police and public works employees already have approved their contracts with the fire union working through arbitration -- a step in negotiations that comes when the two sides cannot come to an agreement on their own.

Nicholas Carone, the representative for the part-time, custodial and clerical technical SEIU union, said he expects negotiations for the next contract -- which would date back to December 2011 -- to wrap up sooner rather than later.

"We know what we're asking for," Carone said. "We're not going to be ultra-demanding … we're going to be very reasonable and hopefully this can be settled more quickly."

Carone said part of the problem in negotiating for the clerical technical unit, specifically, is that it brings together a group of fairly unrelated employees. The SEIU unit represents people across departments like police, finance, building maintenance and the 911 call center, and all of those people have different needs.

The citywide "me-too" clause, which automatically guarantees a raise for one union that was approved by another, ensures the SEIU employees will see at least a 2-percent raise for 2012 and 2.5-percent raise for 2013 -- amounts negotiated first by the Policemen's Benevolent and Protective Association Unit 54.

Carone said that paves the way for his group's negotiations, leaving time to focus on addressing overtime pay -- a major issue for the clerical technical employees.

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