The labor agreement between Elgin Area School District U-46 and its transportation union, an affiliate of the Illinois Education Association, includes some significant changes for the approximately 350 bus drivers, driver's assistants, mechanics and office workers covered by the contract.
The five-year contract lasts through 2016 and is applied retroactively to the beginning of 2011, when the last contract expired. It allows for a 2.25 percent wage increase for this academic year and a raise equal to half of the consumer price index for the later years of the contract. Union members agreed to a pay freeze in 2011-2012.
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Under this year's contract, bus drivers are paid between $17.50 and $22.51 per hour; mechanics make between $24.06 and $30.95.
The district now will have more control and flexibility over the way routes are packaged for its drivers. The contract also changes the way extra work is awarded and includes language for light duty that will allow the district to reduce its costs around workman's compensation, according to Jeff King, chief operations officer for U-46.
King said the contract -- the result of 18 months of negotiations -- is a decent one for the district as well as the union.
"It should increase our efficiency as an organization," King said. "That's what we're really trying to do."
Union President Lyle Moseman said both sides made concessions to come to an agreement on the contract, which he thinks is pretty good for members.
"It was a long, tough battle," Moseman said. "Both sides worked hard at what we came to."
Drivers were concerned the new route packaging would leave them with fewer hours, but Moseman said it worked out well, in the end, with extra midday runs filling out their schedules.
The district was negotiating five other contracts at the same time as it was bargaining with the U-46 Transportation Union. King said the last group still working under an old contract is food service workers.
The U-46 school board approved the contract Dec. 3, just days after union members did the same.