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Kishwaukee College approves support staff contract

MALTA – Kishwaukee Community College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a new contract with the school’s unionized support staff Tuesday.

Under the terms of the three-year deal, the 90-member Kishwaukee Council of Support Staff, which includes maintenance, clerical, custodial and information technology workers, will receive annual pay increases and an altered benefits plan.

The board approved the contract without discussion after a 20-minute closed session in a special meeting held on campus.

The pay increases outlined in the contract – 2 percent for each of the first two years and 2.5 percent for the third year – amount to an average of about $75,000 a year in additional expenditures for the school, according to Vice President of Finance and Administration Rob Galick. The pay increases are retroactive to July 1, the day after the past contract expired.

“We have a good group of employees, the college is well maintained, very responsive to community needs, so we think it’s fair for the taxpayer,” said Bob Johnson, the board’s chairman. “We’re trying to balance student expenses with taxpayer expenditures with the needs of employees, and I think this achieves a fair balance.”

Johnson said that the board had been limiting its spending over the past year because of falling property values and state funding, but that the cutbacks allowed them to spend a little more on support employees.

“We’ve been frugal financially the last year and are in a position to negotiate a contract with a slight increase,” Johnson said.

Under the terms of the new plan, instead of a $990 health insurance cap that applied to all support employees, the college will cover 95 percent of health benefits for single workers, 85 percent for employees with a dependent and 80 percent for employees’ families. Galick said that plan amounts to no additional cost for the college, as single payers will end up paying more out of pocket while families will pay less.

“People with families are going to save money, and that’s pretty huge,” said Dave Bresson, the union’s president.

The union approved the new contract with a 68-2 vote before it came before the board of trustees.

“Our members love the contract,” Bresson said. “Our vote was nearly unanimous. ... I think that’s evidence of the fact that our members believe we got a good contract.”

Bresson and Emily Nicholson, an employee in the school’s admissions office, represented the union in the negotiations, which started in March. Galick and Kevin Fuss, the associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, represented the college.

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