Hoffman Estates approves 3-year firefighters contract retroactive to Jan. 1

Eleven months retroactively, Hoffman Estates village board members Monday approved a three-year contract with the firefighters union granting annual salary increases for firefighter-paramedics of 2.5%, 2.25% and 2.25%, respectively, through Dec. 31, 2023.

The contract also includes additional equity adjustments in the pay of lieutenants and captains -- 0.75% in 2021 and 1% in both 2022 and 2023.

The vote was 6-0 with Trustee Karen Mills absent.

Hoffman Estates Village Manager Eric Palm said he didn't recognize any specific reasons for the length of the negotiations, least of all the absence of a permanent village manager and fire chief on Jan. 1, when the new contract was intended to take effect and ultimately has.

"Some things just take a little longer," Palm said. "I was very impressed with the leadership of the union and the good spirit of negotiations."

Trustee Gary Pilafas also praised the work of Deputy Village Manager Dan O'Malley and the negotiating team.

Nevertheless, in the midst of those talks, the union endorsed recently retired Hoffman Estates police lieutenant Mark Mueller in the village's April 6 mayoral election over incumbent and eventual winner Bill McLeod.

At the time of its endorsement, the union cited comments McLeod had made during a February virtual town-hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Sean Casten about how a lack of federal funding could threaten the staffing levels of the village's first responders.

The union's president did not respond to a request for comment Monday, but McLeod said he didn't believe the negotiations to have been extraordinarily long for a retroactive contract.

"The negotiations went well," McLeod said. "I believe it's a fair contract for the village and the firefighters."

Annual wage increases for firefighter/paramedics were not the only changes negotiated for the new contract. Other factors include a new health insurance plan with increased employee contributions to offset costs and a revised sick-leave incentive program.

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