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Article updated: 2/21/2013 4:13 PM

Carol Stream OKs contract with public works employees

By Christopher Placek

Carol Stream public works employees will receive salary increases over the course of three years, according to terms of an updated contract approved this week by the village board.

The current collective bargaining agreement with Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents the village's 26 public works employees, has been in effect since May 1, 2010, and is due to expire April 30, 2015, but a contract "reopener" took effect last May to discuss changes to wages and health insurance, Assistant Village Manager Bob Mellor said.

Those who have been in the union as of Jan. 30 will receive a base salary increase of 2 percent retroactive to May 1, 2012, a 2.25 percent increase on May 1, 2013, and a 2.75 percent increase on May 1, 2014.

On the issue of health insurance, the village has the right to make plan changes for union members starting May 1, 2014. And the village is offering a one-time lump sum payment of $2,500 to those employees who sign a waiver and release to forgo the PPO option before that date.

Mellor said the village is encouraging more employees to take the HMO option as more parts of the new federal health care law take effect in 2014. The village's HMO plan wouldn't be taxed, but its PPO plan might, he said.

"We wanted to be able to structure our health care benefit in conjunction with the national health care program," Mellor said. "If you have a program that's too rich, you have to pay a tax on that."

Members of the union unanimously ratified the agreement Feb. 6. Union representative Nick Carone said the contract was a fair deal and is on par with other groups in the area.

"At the end of the day it's a very good deal for the public works employees at the village of Carol Stream," Carone said.

A federal mediator was brought in late last year to move discussions along -- particularly over wages, Carone said -- but was successful in getting both sides back to the table.

Both sides agreed to other changes in the contract, including elimination of a fifth week of vacation after 20 years of employment for those hired after Jan. 30, 2013.

Of the three unions representing village employees, discussions continue with one group, the Fraternal Order of Police. It represents about 50 patrol officers who have been working without a contract since May 1, 2012.

Last September, the village signed its first contract with the six-member police sergeants union, which the Illinois Labor Relations Board ruled in 2010 had the right to unionize.

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