Council OKs 3-year deal with water employees

BASE-PAY salaries frozen

By David Skolnick


City council approved a three-year contract with the union representing water department employees that freezes their base-pay salaries.

But the contract, approved Thursday by council, maintains a number of perks members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2726 have enjoyed for years.

Among the perks are: free vision and dental coverage, a $658.20 annual payment for the “care and maintenance” of uniforms provided by the city, bonuses for not taking sick days, and longevity pay.

Steve Procick, president of the 85-member union, said “concerns over SB 5,” a new state law, not yet enacted, that reduces the collective-bargaining rights of public employees, “changed the game a little bit,” providing a sense of urgency to get the contract approved.

“We’re locked in for three years,” he said. “That’s a big plus.”

Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello said the contract, effective from Thursday through March 1, 2014, is “fair.”

The previous contract with the water department union expired Dec. 31, 2010.

That three-year deal had annual base-pay raises of 2.5 percent in the first year and 3 percent in each of the final two years.

Like other union contracts approved by the city in the past two years, the deal with Local 2726 doesn’t include base-pay salary increases.

Union members will continue to contribute 10 percent of the total monthly health-care premium, but with higher caps than the previous contract.

Those with single coverage will pay up to $100 a month, and those with family coverage will pay up to $200 a month. The previous caps were $80 for single and $150 for family.

The current monthly premium for hospitalization and medical coverage for these employees is $533.90 for single and $1,334.74 for family.

The union members will continue to receive free vision and dental coverage, something that costs the city $55.75 a month for each employee.

Also Thursday, council approved a $242,679.15 settlement to a 12-year-old lawsuit. The city agreed to that settlement with the former owners of the Wick-Pollock Inn on Wick Avenue.

The former hotel owners, Pollock Inn Restoration Associates, received $800,000 from the federal government in 1987 to improve the facility, which has been closed since 1998.

To get the federal money, the company was to pay $400,000 to the city. Instead, the city got $242,679.15.

Council also agreed Thursday to sell a 5.1-acre parcel in the Fosterville neighborhood for $14,000 to Bottom Dollar Foods, which will build a full-service grocery store there.

The property is bounded by West Princeton, Glenwood and West Indianola avenues, and is the location of the former Cleveland School and adjacent Fosterville Park on the city’s South Side.

Council had a special meeting Thursday primarily to approve this property sale because Bottom Dollar wants to start construction as soon as possible, said Councilman Paul Drennen, D-5th. The store is in his ward.

The store should open in November, Drennen said.

Also, Bottom Dollar is building another full-service grocery store on East Midlothian Boulevard at the location of a former Big Lots, near Zedaker Street.

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