Contract gives groundskeepers unified voice


Bridget Kingston, News Editor

It’s been a year since the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board certified the College of DuPage Buildings and Ground Staff Union, and a contract is now in place to finalize the negotiations. The Classified Staff Association (CSA- maintenance and grounds department) and the COD Board approved the first employment contract covering employee wages, hours and working conditions through June of 2020.

The four-year agreement will give COD mechanics, painters, groundskeepers and carpenters retroactive raises of 3 percent for the 2016-17 year. The raise percentage is equal to the amount received by other classifications of employees. The deal also includes provisions governing employee seniority, layoff and recall protections, health and safety matters and pay for work outside the normal work schedule due to unique responsibilities, such as snow removal.

CSA President Roger Behling explained that in signing the contract, one of the most important factors was for every member to be on board with its arrangements. He hopes the ratification of the contract will help others recognize the union’s presence and dedication to the campus.

“This contract will give grounds employees a united voice with more substance behind it,” Behling said. “I think previously we were kind of invisible, you know a lot of people maybe don’t stop and think about how there is a group of people here on campus that are plowing the snow, cutting the grass, painting the walls or fixing the bathrooms. I think now there is an actual awareness that we exist.”

  Mia Igyarto, Director of Labor, Employee Relations and Benefits, served as the College’s negotiations spokesperson regarding the contract.

“We were able to sit down with the union and establish an agreement that was fair to all concerned,” Igyarto said. “I think everyone is appreciative of the open dialogue and hard work that went into this agreement.”

In the subsequent years to follow, raises will be determined through a formula of the Consumer Price Index plus one-half percent. The minimum raise will not be lower than 1 percent and the maximum raise will not reach above 3 percent. Salaries may be adjusted higher if other employee groups receive raises in excess of those produced by the formula.

“As a group we would like to say thank you to the College for recognizing us and for also  being fair on a lot of the things in the contract,” Behling said. “Hopefully we can all move forward not as individual departments, but as one college organization.”

The negotiation process for the CSA union began in February of 2016.