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updated: 1/14/2014 5:48 PM

Carol Stream OKs 3-year contract with firefighters union

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Carol Stream firefighters will receive 2.5 percent annual increases in base pay under a new three-year contract.

The agreement, which affects 46 firefighters in the Carol Stream Fire Protection District, is retroactive to June 1, 2013. Negotiations began in March 2013 to replace the previous contract that expired in May 2013.

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"It's a good, fair agreement," said Lt. Rick Bonk, the union president. "Both sides are always looking for a little bit more, but it's something that we can walk away from the table, not be mad at each other and feel good about."

In addition, union members with more than 25 years of service will receive one additional paid vacation day. Raises also were negotiated for firefighters who do off-duty special assignments such as training, or work "out of grade" such as an acting battalion chief.

Chief Rick Kolomay said the majority of time spent on negotiations was related to health insurance, complicated by the fees and requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

"We negotiated very diligently on health insurance with respect to exploring different lower premiums, higher deductible health plans," Kolomay said. "The effort was to do all we could to improve the health of our employees and at the same time for the district to keep the costs as low as possible."

As negotiations approached the Jan. 1 enrollment date, the two sides chose to revert to the status quo PPO and HMO plans; they plan to return to the negotiating table and re-examine for the Aug. 1 enrollment.

"Everybody walked away a lot more educated," Kolomay said. "It wasn't a disagreement as much as running out of time."

Additions were made to the post-employment health plan, with life insurance going from $50,000 to $100,000.

"We think we met the comparables for the departments in the area," Kolomay said. "It was very amicable."

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