2 union contracts to get votes

2 union contracts to get votes

DANVILLE — Two groups of Vermilion County employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ratified tentative deals with the county Tuesday night after rejecting similar agreements about a month ago.

The previous contracts expired last November, and the two sides had been negotiating since then.

The tentative deals are for four years and represent about 150 county workers, including courthouse bailiffs and employees in probation, the circuit clerk's office, the health department, the animal shelter and the various countywide offices in the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex.

The Vermilion County Board will hold a special meeting to vote on the contracts at 6 p.m. Nov. 21 in the annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville.

The proposed agreements include changes in overall compensation that affect longevity and payout for unused personal days, which will be reduced from more than a dozen to eight. After this year, the county will no longer pay employees for unused personal days.

Vermilion County Attorney Bill Donahue said the only change between the previous deals that the unions voted down and the current ones are the number of personal days. The previous proposal would have reduced personal days to six.

Long term, the contract will save the county money, according to county officials.

The agreements include wage increases for all employees, but not a consistent percentage increase each year for everyone. Rather, Donahue said, the contract focuses more on wage increases for the lowest-paid county employees.

There are a number of employees earning $18,000 and $19,000 a year on the low end, Donahue said, and the county wants to get those up to at least $20,000 a year. He said department heads and officeholders have told county officials that they have difficulty recruiting and retaining employees in those positions, so the starting salaries needed to be increased.

Under the tentative deal, employees making $20,000 or less a year will get a $1,000 increase in the first and second years, a $750 increase in the third year and a $500 increase in the fourth year.

In the second year of the contract, whatever longevity a worker had accrued by December will be added to that person's base salary. The county will then eliminate future longevity, which gives a worker an additional lump-sum payment in December based on a formula that includes his or her length of service with the county.

Two other county collective-bargaining contracts for highway department workers and Juvenile Detention Center employees were also up in November 2012 and are still not resolved. And negotiations for new contracts with county sheriff's deputies and correctional officers are just beginning.

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