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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  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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Kent Frederick August 30, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Chaz, Actually, circulation is up at the library since the recession started. People are checking out books, rather than buying books. I've learned that some book publishers won't sell e-books to libraries. And why go to Red Box, Family Video, or Blockbuster, when the library has so many titles, especially older movies. Try going to the library in the afternoon after school. It's busy. I went last Friday at noon. The line for check out looked like a line at the Tivoli on a Wednesday morning during the summer. Why should government offer a collection of books for the public to read? Because we as a society believe that society should be literate. Even though books (printed or electronic) are relatively inexpensive, who has room for a huge collection of books in the typical suburban house? My son will check out 10 books at a time. If I bought all of the books he read, I'd need to put on an additon.
Dan F. August 30, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Your desire to use force majeure as an exculpatory clause, as you describe, in a union labor contract, is stupid. No union rep or lawyer would ever agree to that, so why bring it up in the first place, more than once? That sort of demeaning attitude negates all the fluffy comments you have for village employees. Negotiate what the village can afford and move on, don't mince around pretending to explain your vote and pat public workers on the heads, when what you are doing is trying to justify not wanting to give them the raises in the first place. "I love you guys but I want to be able to go back and screw you whenever I please" doesn't fly now and never will.
Carol Kania Morency August 30, 2012 at 05:05 PM
While I have some issues with Bob Barnett's force majeure concept (namely, as mentioned above, would the unions even consider it?) I do appreciate the fact that Bob is coming up with ideas that 1) recognize the need to think in different ways about how to provide services and 2) ideally will do away with the practice of eliminating staff whenever times are lean. Also, as a journalist who has attended many, many municipal meetings, I can assure you that by the time elected village officials count their time in meetings, preparing for meetings, answering constituent calls and emails and attending village and neighborhood events, the money they earn is the equivalent of pocket change.
Bob Barnett August 30, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Mr. Trayer is absolutely correct – which is why what I suggested, in more detail, were several triggers for reopening negotiations (I used “force majeure” as an example others might be familiar with to identify the concept). To be sure, the upside for employees would also have to have triggers as well. Contrary to Barry’s (err, sorry, Dan F.) comments, my position has never been to eliminate wages and the record from our public meetings makes this quite clear. I simply believe three things should be changed; first the assumption that the public can or should assume any future cost increases irrespective of the economic conditions of the day, second that employees should not participate in the fortunes of the Village – good or bad – and finally that the appropriate number of fire-fighters or police should be determined in a manner reactive to a temporary economic setback. I understand that Illinois, perhaps more than any other state, is a difficult place to start such a conversation but what is the argument for not trying to improve on predictability of cost and sustainability and quality of service while better ensuring employment for our public servants?
J. Geoff Rove September 01, 2012 at 06:05 PM
There is an element in this bunch that simply must enjoy plowing tons of ice and snow into mailboxes, its some kind of game for them. How many even live here ?? The crowd living in the Plano-Oswego-Hastert repo triangle must be ticked that the rest of us didn't move into the tornado belt and keep their overvalued housing prices up.

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