Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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City employees urge agreement

Braving the rain and busy traffic on Ridge Avenue, about 30 city employees associated with the American Federation for State, County and Municipal Employees gathered outside the Evanston Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., with colorful signs Tuesday evening to voice their demands for a fair contract with the city.

As union and city officials hammered out details of a contract — overdue for nearly four months — members of Evanston’s largest union for city employees received welcoming honks from passing cars as they demanded certain privileges, such as seniority and funeral leave.

Although the two groups did not come to an agreement Tuesday, local union members will look over the city’s proposal before meeting with city officials again next Tuesday.

“They came to the table with a comphrensive proposal regarding the proposals that the union had originally presentend them,” said Ray Summers, president of local chapter 1891.

For the union members, whose contract expired March 1, Tuesday’s protest was an indication to the city that both parties needed to come to a quick agreement.

“We are doing our job,” said city employee Chappell Arnold. “We want them to do their work.”

Arnold added that every time the city comes to the table they have not “put anything worthwhile” for the employees. Instead, he said the city has been considering cutting funeral leave and seniority privileges for city employees.

“We’re working without a contract,” city employee and union member Greg Simms said. “We need health insurance, our vacation and we want decent pay.”

While contracts for AFSCME members expired in early March, Simms said several other city employee groups, including management services and the fire department, had their contracts settled almost immediately.

But AFSCME has been waiting for four months for a new contract.

“It’s unfair,” union member Ken Walusiak said. “We don’t want anything better than the others. Everyone has families and has to pay taxes.”

Simms said he hopes the two parties can reach an agreement sometime this month. But if they don’t, he is prepared to come out to voice his demands again, rain or shine.

“If that’s what it takes, I’ll be here,” Simms said.

According to Summers, it’s just too early to tell what will come out of these two meetings.

“The future looks brighter now than it did a week ago,” Summers said. “It’s going to take some time right now to figure it out because we’re going over their proposal.”

He added that the city has attempted to meet the union’s requests.

“Their intent is to be as fair as possible so there’s always room for negotiation,” Summmer said.

For some, Tuesday’s demonstration was also a platform to support the negotiation process as it continues into next week.

“We’re out here to voice our desire for both parties to work it out,” Sandra Chavis said. “We’ve got some ways to go, but hopefully we are making headway.”

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City employees urge agreement