Custodians, mechanics have new deal in District 15

 
 
Posted12/14/2017 5:34 AM
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  • Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Michael Smolka speaks Wednesday before the approval of a four-year contract for custodians, mechanics and other employees, as board President Lisa Szczupaj listens.

      Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Michael Smolka speaks Wednesday before the approval of a four-year contract for custodians, mechanics and other employees, as board President Lisa Szczupaj listens. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

Custodians, mechanics and other employees have secured a new four-year contract at Palatine Township Elementary District 15.

District 15 school board members Wednesday night voted 7-0 in favor of their end of the deal with the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 100 workers. Union members ratified the contract Monday.

Officials said negotiators for the school board and union completed the deal after five negotiating sessions. The custodians, mechanics, maintenance employees and internal service workers have remained on the job since their last contract expired July 1.

Under the contract, the union members will receive 2 percent annual raises. A maximum of seven employees will receive a one-year, $9,000 retirement incentive.

In addition, mechanics will get a $500 tool allowance. There also will be an increase in the mechanic and maintenance journeyman stipend to $3,000 from $2,500 per year.

School board member Michael Smolka, part of District 15's negotiating team, complimented the union for its desire to strike a deal.

"As far as the negotiating goes, there were some tense moments, but I think we all worked for the betterment of both sides," Smolka said.

Meanwhile, support employees who went on a 10-day strike in October continue working without a contract. All 454 secretaries, clerical employees, nurses and classroom aides in the Educational Support Personnel Association union walked off their jobs Oct. 16.

District 15 board President Lisa Szczupaj said no new talks are scheduled with the support employees union but she hopes relationships can be repaired "for the benefit of our students, our staff and the community itself."

Superintendent Scott Thompson also was hopeful after Wednesday's meeting

"We're just hoping to move forward in a positive way and get back to really having a quality organization with people feeling valued," Thompson said. "And that's what we're striving for."

Schools stayed open for the district's roughly 12,800 students during the support employees' strike, in part because the faculty contract didn't allow teachers to honor the picket lines. The teachers union made a controversial 10-year deal with the district in 2016.

Talks on a new deal for the support employees began in February. They have been without a contract since July 1.

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