Downers Grove, Public Workers Approve New Contract
The village council voted 6-1 last week to adopt a three-year contract for 55 workers of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.
Following four months of negotiations, the Village of Downers Grove has approved a three-year contract with its public works employees that will provide a slight increase in salaries.
The village council voted 6-1 on Aug. 21 to approve the collective bargaining agreement with 55 employees from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. The contract is retroactive to May 1, 2012, and expires April 30, 2015.
As part of the contract, salaries will increase 2 percent in the first two years and 1 percent in the third year.
Mayor Martin Tully praised both sides for the mutual "give and take" demonstrated throughout the negotiation process.
"These are very fair and favorable economic terms for the parties involved, and are well within our long-range financial plan and expectations, which is good," Tully said.
Commissioner Geoff Neustadt said the union has been "extremely cordial" with the village since negotiations began in April. They ratified the contract on Aug. 15, according to village documents.
"Every time we go through contract negotition and eventual settlement, it's always a good day," Neustadt said. "We wouldn't be able to function as a village without these folks. Their hardwork is the backbone of our village."
Commissioner Bob Barnett, who cast the lone dissenting vote, expressed concern about current and future economic conditions, and questioned what might happen if things take a negative turn. He mentioned a similar situation in 2009, when the village was forced to lay off police officers in response to the economic downturn.
"The future is far from certain, not even remotely comfortable from where I sit, nor assuring," Barnett said. "I continue to be unable to support a contract structured in such way that the only sure way out for village should something fall off a cliff or times get really tough is layoffs. That just doesnt sit well with me. I don't want to lay anybody off."
Despite his opposition to the contract, Barnett said he appreciates the hard work that went into negotiations.
"The village is nothing without the good work of our team, and I want to make it clear that I appreciate the teamwork exhibited in these contract negotions. It says a lot about our employees," Barnett said. "I think by and large, it's a decent agreement. As the mayor says, it fits within the planning this group has done and it's a good deal in that sense."
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