County Board News: Board approves two labor contracts, ends 18 months of bargaining
By Jim Hagerty
After 18 months of collective bargaining, the Winnebago County Board approved two labor agreements Tuesday, Dec. 21.
The first contract involves the roughly 80 employees in the Circuit Clerk’s Office. The second, for 120 Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies, was inked after an arbitrator’s ruling.
Each deal is a retroactive, four-year contract covering the period from Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2013.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato represented the county during talks and said both sides presented strong positions and contracts are fair.
“Both sides took something away from this that was of value,” Bruscato said. “I think both sides also had to give something up.”
County officials called for a wage freeze all four years, however, deputies were able to walk away with a 1-percent pay raise next year and a 2.25-percent increase in 2012 and 2013.
Sheriff Dick Meyers welcomed the end of negotiations saying, “Everyone was glad to see them over and that it does bring some labor peace in.”
The new deal will also do away a merit commission’s power to discipline employees and shift it to directly to Meyers’ office.
According to Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, the deal with Circuit Clerk’s Office workers, negotiated through American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) reps, includes the 1- and 2.25-percent pay hikes given to deputies and double pay for specific holidays.
“It’s good for the county, good for employees (and) good for everyone involved,” Christiansen said.
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