Aurora approves new contracts with three unions

The city of Aurora this week approved new contracts for three key city unions.

The contracts with two units of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, and with the Association of Professional Police Officers were literally years in the making – having expired between October 2011 and March 2013.

Alex Alexandrou, the city employee heading up negotiations with all three contracts, said cooperation between the unions’ teams and the city was good. He also praised communication between city departments.

The two AFSCME units are Local 1514, Council 31, which represents a lot of public works, water and sewer and water production employees, and Local 3298, Council 31, which represents more white collar workers, such as inspectors, customer service and telecommunicators.

As part of the new contracts, the city was able to introduce changes to the health plan and other situations it has been trying to get for a while.

The Local 1514 contract expired at the end of 2012, and Alexandrou said it likely would have been done sooner, but many of the workers on the union negotiating team are snow plow drivers, and they were preoccupied with last year’s heavy winter.

The contract gives workers a 2.5 percent raise retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, and a 2.25 percent increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014.

It also gives a half-percent raise going back to July 1, 2014, a 2.5 percent hike on Jan. 1, 2015, with a half-percent hike this July and a 2.25 percent increase at the beginning of 2016.

Alexandrou said the contract not only makes the health plan changes, it makes it easier to deploy temporary workers.

The contract with Local 3298 expired Oct. 1, 2011. The new one increases the flexibility involved with the use of temporary workers, and allows some flexibility to allow four, 10-hour days in some cases, instead of the standard five, eight-hour days.

The wage increases for this contract were: 1 percent retroactive to 2011; 1.5 percent back to Oct. 1, 2012; 2.5 percent hike for 2013; a 2.25 percent hike for 2014; a 1.5 percent hike beginning this year; and a 2.5 percent increase for 2016.

For the police contract, which had expired in March 2013, the wage hikes are: 2.25 percent retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013; 1 percent back to Aug. 1, 2013; 2.25 percent back to Jan. 1, 2014; .5 percent back to July 1, 2014; 2.25 percent on Jan. 1, 2015; .5 percent this July 1; and 2.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2016.

It was the first contract negotiated between the city and the Association of Professional Police Officers that did not require going to arbitration in about 10 years.

That was not lost on representatives from both sides. A member of the police negotiating team told aldermen this week the successful negotiations were achieved “because of mutual respect” between both sides.

Mayor Tom Weisner said negotiators were “able to sit down and wrangle through issues in a polite fashion.”

“It was a very refreshing change from the past,” he said. “I hope this is the beginning of a new trend.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurunions-st-0130-20150129-story.html