Council approves union contracts with police, firefighters


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) speaks at a council meeting on Monday. Fleming encouraged city staff to be more “aggressive” with union contracts going into 2018.

Samantha Handler, Assistant City Editor

Aldermen approved agreements with the police and firefighter unions at a council meeting Monday, authorizing city manager Wally Bobkiewicz to execute the contracts.

The Fraternal Order of Police Sergeant Union and the International Association of Fire Fighters Union both called for 3 percent wage increases for the next fiscal year, according to city documents. The documents state that the increases are higher than last year to account for changes to health insurance plans that went into effect on Jan. 1.

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) and Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) both voted against approving the contract with the IAFF, and Fleming also voted against the FOP agreement. Fleming encouraged city staff to be “aggressive” with contract negotiations as the city enters into budget talks for next year, especially in anticipation of the projected deficit for 2019.

Bobkiewicz projected the deficit to be about $3 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“City residents are starting to understand that we are looking at some more deficits this year, so I’m hopeful that our union staff will be mindful of that as we implement these contracts,” Fleming said. “I’m sure that our staff will be aggressively taking on these union contracts next year so we can make sure the taxpayers who are not in unions will be able to stay in our town.”

In both contracts, the city agreed to return vacation time that had been deducted last year in exchange for each union withdrawing complaints they had filed with the Illinois Department of Labor and Illinois Labor Relations Board about that removal.

FOP members were also credited with 24 hours of compensatory time for agreeing to the contract and an increase in the annual education incentive. Employees who possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from a college or university will receive an additional $1,900 stipend.

Sergeants can also participate in a voluntary physical fitness exam administered by the Evanston Police Department and can receive $500 for passing as an “incentive to maintain physical fitness,” according to city documents.

Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew said the sergeant’s union negotiates the contracts with city management and ratified the agreement before it went to council for approval.

“I can’t speak to whether the sergeants are pleased or not pleased with the contract,” Glew said. “All I can say is that they ratified the contract.”

IAFF members received 30 hours of compensatory time since they agreed to not have a wage increase in 2017. This year, the union will receive a 2.75 percent retroactive increase for last year, and a 3 percent increase for 2018.

According to city documents, the IAFF agreement largely remained the same as last year. Negotiations for the next contracts with both unions will take place in the fall.

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