Lake County circuit clerk employee union approves contract
Administrators at the Lake County circuit clerk's office have finalized a contract with its employee union, officials said.
The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) voted Nov. 26 to ratify the worker's first contract, circuit clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein said in a news release.
The office's roughly 100 union employees will ultimately receive about an 11 percent increase over the contract that runs until Nov. 30, 2020, Cartwright Weinstein said. Because the contract is retroactive to December 2016, employees will receive a lump-sum payment that will cost the county about $118,000 for the difference in pay for the past two years.
The final total contract cost depends on the county's future merit raises determined by the county board, Cartwright Weinstein said.
"I am pleased that my staff will be making comparable wages to other departments in Lake County," she said in the news release. "It has been difficult to keep staff, and as the official record keeper for the 19th Judicial Circuit Court, we have a huge responsibility to the people of Lake County."
The contract between the circuit clerk's office and AFSCME also provides an incentive program to encourage employees to learn other responsibilities within the office, officials said. It also increases the starting wage for new hires from $13.22 to $16.74 per hour.
It took two years to finalize this contract because it is the first contract between the administrators and the circuit clerks office staff after employees voted to certify the union in July 2015, officials said.
"Prior to this contract, some of the employees were working two or three jobs and receiving food stamps," Cartwright Weinstein said in the news release. "The fact that we could make their lives better by paying them a living wage while continuing to be fiscally responsible to the Lake County taxpayers brings me great joy."