Deal could be near for five Kane County unions

 
 
Updated 12/5/2018 6:30 PM
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  • Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen took a new approach to addressing a newly constituted county board from an elevated podium on Wednesday. The new board will have its first major vote next Tuesday when it makes a final decision on as many as five union contracts that have been in negotiations for more than a year.

      Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen took a new approach to addressing a newly constituted county board from an elevated podium on Wednesday. The new board will have its first major vote next Tuesday when it makes a final decision on as many as five union contracts that have been in negotiations for more than a year. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

A deal between Kane County and five of its employee unions may be inked as soon as next Tuesday. If completed, the deals will bring a conclusion to more than a year of negotiations and answer one of the biggest unknown factors about increased spending in the 2019 budget.

County board members spent about half an hour discussing bargaining agreements for the health department, clerk's office, the office of community reinvestment, KDOT and the coroner's office.

While the specifics of each contract may differ to some degree, statements by county officials indicated a preference for four-year deals. Union representatives may have wanted shorter deals, given the expectation of an employment environment more friendly to unions, at least at the state level, following the November elections.

Coroner Rob Russell said his seven union employees are looking at a four-year deal that would feature 2 percent raises each year. A sticking point may involve back pay to reflect working the entirety of the 2018 fiscal year under an expired contract. Russell said the back pay for his employees amounts to about $1,000 each. He's offered to pay that out of a special revenue fund unique to his office if it will push the negotiations toward a conclusion.

Finance Committee Chairman John Hoscheit wouldn't comment on the specifics on the individual contracts. He said there is a focus on wrapping up as many of the negotiations as soon as possible. At that point, the county board would consider giving matching raises to all nonunion employees.

"We're committed to live within our resources," Hoscheit said. "I'm confident that if the board supports a contract that is mutually agreeable, that we'll find the funds to deal with it."

Officials in the county's finance department have pressed the board to pair any multiyear deals for spending increases with a multiyear plan detailing where the new money will come from. The board has yet to publicly discuss any such funding plan.

A 2 percent pay increase for all county workers would add $1.3 million in new spending to the 2019 budget.

Hoscheit said he expects the full county board will take a final vote on some, if not all five of the contracts, at the board meeting next Tuesday.

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