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Article updated: 3/11/2013 5:30 PM

Kane County court security union agrees to tentative 5-year deal

By Harry Hitzeman

The union representing officers who provide security in Kane County courtrooms has reached a tentative agreement with the county after working without a contract for more than four years.

Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said the agreement still must be approved by the full Kane County Board.

As it stands, the deal is for five years, retroactive to Dec, 1, 2008, Perez said.

The agreement will expire Dec. 1, 2013, so the two sides could be back at the bargaining table this summer working on another contract, he added.

"I'm just glad we've reached this stage so everyone can focus on coming to work and doing what they're paid to do," said Perez, who said he could not discuss the contract's specifics.

The county board meets Tuesday morning and Perez said he plans to brief the full board in executive session, where the board is allowed to meet behind closed doors to consider sensitive matters such as collective bargaining and land acquisition.

Perez said the next step is for the county board's finance committee to discuss the contract and a final vote by the full county board is likely at its April 9 meeting.

The officers, who provide security for courthouses in St. Charles and Geneva, along with branch courts in Elgin, Aurora and Carpentersville, were prepared to go on strike March 4 until the county made a last minute offer in late February, according to union attorney Tim O'Neil.

Officers had been working without a contract since Nov. 30, 2008.

The union voted 12-12 March 4 on the county's latest offer, but voted 21 to 7 on the same proposal Friday, Perez said. The second vote on the same proposal was suggested by the union's legal advisers, Perez said.

"It looks like they were more informed on the second vote than they were on the first. I'm just speculating," Perez said.

O'Neil did not return phone messages Monday.

In the past, O'Neil had said the pay for Kane officers severely lagged behind other collar counties.

O'Neil said starting pay for officers was just $25,000 and topped out at $34,000, which was still 20 percent less than security officers in McHenry County, the closest of the collar counties in terms of pay.

"They're expected to put their lives on the line," O'Neil said in January.

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