Two down, two to go.
The Forest Park Village Council has agreed to contracts with two of the unions representing village employees, and officials have set their sights on negotiating with two others.
The village council voted unanimously on May 14 to approve contracts with Automobile Mechanics Local 701, representing the village’s one mechanic, and Forest Park Firefighters Local 2753, representing the firefighters. The auto mechanics union contract runs for three years and the firefighters union contract extends four years.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian said village officials anticipate negotiating with Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 211, which represents the police officers, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3026, which represents office staff. Contracts with both unions expired on April 30 but police officers and office staff are working under terms of the expired contracts while negotiations continue, as has been done in the past. Gillian said dates have been set to negotiate with the office staff’s union and he hopes to set dates with police officers union “soon.”
The village’s contract with Teamsters Local 705, which represents public works employees, does not expire until April 30, 2020.
Under terms of the contract with the auto mechanics union, Forest Park’s one mechanic, George Prescott, will receive salary increases of 1 percent the first year, retroactive to May 1; 2 percent the second year; and 2.5 percent the third year. Gillian said a slight increase in his union insurance benefits, of which the village pays 100 percent, is the only other change from the previous contract.
Gillian noted that Prescott, who is paid hourly and has worked for the village for 10 years, works on every vehicle in the village’s fleet except the fire department’s equipment, which he estimated is about 80 vehicles. Prescott earns $32.04 per hour.
The firefighters will receive salary increases of 1 percent the first year, retroactive to May 1; 2 percent the second year; and 2.5 percent in each of the final two years. Gillian said no major changes were made from the previous contract although he said some language was “cleaned up.” The starting salary for a new firefighter is now $56,669 and the highest salary attainable is $87,295 after five years.
The contract with the firefighters union extends a year longer than the three-year contract it succeeds but the auto mechanics union contract is a year shorter. Both contracts were reached in shorter negotiations than last time. It took four months for the firefighters union and the village to reach agreement in September 2016 and almost two years for the auto mechanics union and the village to reach agreement in March 2016.
Mayor Anthony Calderone said these negotiations were “definitely more expeditious,” but added, “It takes both sides to have a willingness to negotiate promptly and the village is always willing to negotiate.”
As to the longer contract with the firefighters union, he said, “They requested a four-year contract and we had no objections.”
Office staff worked nine months without a contract before reaching an agreement in February 2016 and police officers worked two years without a contract before reaching an agreement in May 2017.