More than eight months after their last contract expired, the 14 people in Forest Park’s Public Works department finally have a new contract. Monday night, the village council unanimously approved a new two-year contact for Public Works employees.

The new contract, which takes effect retroactively May 1, 2009, provides for a 2.25 percent pay raise in its first year and a 2.5 percent pay raise in its second year.

Forest Park’s Public Works employees, who are members of Local 705 of the Teamsters union, are divided into two classifications. “Chauffeurs operating heavy equipment” will see their pay jump immediately and retroactively to $24.84 an hour from the old wage of $24.29 an hour. On May 1, 2010, their pay will increase to $25.46 an hour.

Class C water operators’ pay will immediately jump to $28.71 an hour from their old wage of $28.08 an hour. On May 1, 2010, these workers’ pay will increase to $29.43 an hour.

The village’s negotiating team consisted of Commissioner of Accounts and Finance Rory Hoskins, Director of Human Resources Vanessa Moritz, Public Works Director John Doss, village attorney Mike Durkin and village administrator Tim Gillian.

Hoskins said he was disappointed that the contract doesn’t permit the village to furlough any workers or to allow the village to compel workers to work less than 40 hours week during slack periods. Yet, he said, he was satisfied with the terms overall.

“There were a couple items that I would have liked to get into the contract, but, all in all, it’s a decent contract,” Hoskins said.

Given the fiscal problems the village is facing, Hoskins said that the village was trying to hold the line on any increases in costs to the village.

The previous three-year contract gave employees raises in the 3.5 percent range.

But commissioner Marty Tellalian said the raises in this contract were more than fair given the low rate of current inflation and the financial condition of the village.

“It is certainly consistent with what the consumer price index is now and, I think, ultimately it’s fair. So I’ll be voting for this even though it’s a little more than I had hoped for,” Tellalian said. According to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the 12 months that ended in November, the consumer price index increased by 1.8 percent.

Negotiations for the contract began in March and continued through eight sessions. New village administrator Gillian participated in the final two negotiating sessions.

Gillian said the union recognized that given the state of the economy and village finances, they were not going to get the kinds of raises village employees had received in the past.

“They recognize that there are different times right now,” he said.

Gillian said that the union agreed to a two-year contract hoping that the village would be in better financial shape at its end.

“This is a two-year contract, which is different, and obviously the union is hopeful that maybe in the third year the economy has turned around,” Gillian said. “Everybody negotiated in very good faith and everybody really had the best interests of the village in mind.”

Under the contract, new employees are paid 80 percent of the current hourly wage for their first three months on the job and 90 percent of the hourly rate for their next three months until they complete a six-month probationary period.

The contract calls for the village to pay $240 per employee every week into the Teamsters Health and Welfare fund to cover health insurance and other benefits. Public Works employees get their health insurance through the Teamsters union. They get 10 paid holidays and two paid personal days. For their first seven years on the job, they get two weeks of paid vacation, and three weeks for their seventh year through their 14th year. After 14 years on the job, Public Works employees get four weeks of paid vacation.

The contract provides that there will be no strike or lockout during the term of the contract.