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Elgin Community College approves 3.9 percent faculty raises

Many ElgCommunity College faculty members posted signs like this their doors pledging unity with faculty uniduring contract talks. | File~Sun-Times

Many Elgin Community College faculty members posted signs like this on their doors pledging unity with the faculty union during contract talks. | File~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 17, 2014 7:59AM

ELGIN — The Elgin Community College Board on Tuesday approved a new contract with its teachers union that gives instructors an average 3.9 percent per year increase over the next three years but also requires the teachers to pay more for their health insurance.

Details of the new three-year contract had been worked out in a negotiating session on Dec. 19 and were approved by a non-unanimous voice vote of the ECC Faculty Association last Thursday. Holding a special meeting Tuesday evening, the board of trustee members approved it 5-0.

The previous three-year contract expired Dec. 31.

Fiscally conservative Trustee Robert Getz expressed concerns about the impact on taxes and tuition, and said he would vote against the contract but in the end did cast an “aye” vote to approve the pact.

Trustee John Duffy was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. Trustee Clare Ollayos abstained because her husband is a member of the union.

The contract calls for the 141 full-time faculty members to increase their base pay by 1.5 percent this calendar year, 2.25 percent in 2015 and 2.50 percent in 2016. They also each will receive variable increases for “step movement” (awarded for additional teaching experience) and “lane movement” (for added education).

For the 385 part-time adjunct faculty members, pay will go up 2.25 percent this year, 2.25 percent next year and 2.5 percent in 2016. Some also will receive step and lane raises.

The college will continue to pay the great majority of health care insurance costs, but the teachers will pay 11 percent of the cost this year (up from 5 percent in the first year of the previous contract), 12 percent the second year (up from 7.5 percent) and 13 percent the third year (up from 10 percent).

Employees desiring insurance coverage for their families will keep paying the current 20 percent of its cost this year, but that will rise to 21 percent next year and 22 percent in 2016.

Cost to college

Sharon Konny, vice president of business and finance, said the raises will cost the college $5.6 million over the three years, compared to a total college budget of $137 million.

She said the impact on the college’s share of the health insurance costs remains unknown, depending on what the insurance company charges over the next three years.

“Additionally, this contract allows for adjunct faculty members to request sabbatical and provides for an increased focus on campus safety training for all faculty members,” a written statement from the administration said.

“We are happy to have a new agreement with our faculty so we can continue working together on student success,” said board Chair Donna Redmer. “Both teams worked hard, negotiated fairly and kept the lines of communication open so we could reach a new agreement before the last contract ended.”

Redmer said the negotiating teams met 16 times since last fall. Asked what the most difficult issues had been, she said, “What are they always? Pay and benefits. But it wasn’t that difficult.”

Faculty association spokeswoman Lori Clark said this was only the second time in about 30 years that the union and the college had reached a tentative agreement before the old contract expired.

After the 2008-2010 contract expired on Dec. 31, 2010, the two sides didn’t reach an agreement until the following April. In February 2001, the teachers went on a short strike.

Contracts with the college’s support-staff union and physical-plant engineers both expire June 30, and ECC President David Sam said talks will begin with their unions soon.

Getz asked Sam whether the college can absorb the $5.6 million salary-cost increase without raising taxes or tuition. “That would be a separate discussion,” Sam told him.

“Then until we have that discussion, I would have to vote ‘no,’ ” Getz said. But when the roll-call vote was called, he too voted “aye.”

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