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Article updated: 11/15/2013 7:26 PM

Metra erases 9 percent cap on raises

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By Marni Pyke mpyke@dailyherald.com

Metra directors have lifted a 9 percent annual salary cap for non-union employees, some of whom already were approved for pay increases of up to 33 percent.

The decision Friday originated from a controversial salary study completed in January that found inequities in wages and recommended pay increases ranging from minimal amounts to up to 33 percent.

Previously, the board had decided to institute the raises in annual increments of no more than 9 percent, but on Friday gave Acting Executive Director Don Orseno authority to offer increases immediately, "provided the board is notified and the raises are administered within the budget," spokesman Michael Gillis said in an email.

In January, Metra said the raises applied to 299 employees and would cost the agency $1.4 million over three years.

Among examples given at that time, senior human resources manager making $61,950 will receive an 18 percent boost to $73,214; an electrical engineer making $74,581 will receive a 14.5 percent raise to $85,417; an associate general counsel making $81,000 will receive a 14 percent raise to $92,663; and an accounts payable manager receiving $51,418 will get a 33 percent raise to $68,407.

The raises were justified, officials said earlier, because non-union employees wages had been frozen since 2009 because of the recession.

The 9 percent cap "has caused inconsistency in pay between newly hired employees and current employees where the current Metra employee is paid less than the new employee," Gillis said.

Also on Friday, Metra directors approved a 2014 $728.6 million operating budget that represents a 1.7 percent increase from 2013. The capital budget is $580.7 million and includes $3 million to improve the West Chicago train station with renovated access tunnels, ramps, waiting room, platforms, lighting and new paint. No fare increases are occurring this year.

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