Is the Oak Park government keeping wages in check with the gloomy state of the economy? So far this year, that seems to be the case, at least at village hall.

Labor unions are accepting 0 percent salary increases in 2009 in new contracts negotiated this year. And part of the reason they’re agreeing is because the 100-or-so non-union employees at village hall have had their wages frozen in 2009 to save Oak Park $208,000.

“It is unusual to have unions accept 0 percent,” said Frank Spataro, human resources director for the village. “But I think that it’s a sign of the times, and unions are holding on to what they have.”

Trustees authorized the village to enter into an agreement June 15 with the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union, Local 130. The union represents 11 workers in the water and sewer division of the village’s public works department.

In the two-year contract, ending June 30, 2011, the plumbers union will receive a 0 percent increase in the first year. That’s followed by 1 percent increase the second year.

In the previous contract, the plumbers union got a 3 percent increase the first year and 2.5 percent the second year, Spataro said.

The contract, which was still awaiting signatures from the village manager and president last week, also provided several smaller perks for workers.

“We explained to them at the outset that we have no money to be talking about large increases,” Spataro said.

In April, the board approved a two-year extension to the contract with Teamsters Local 705, which represents eight workers in Oak Park’s streets department. The contract, which is still awaiting a signature from the union, calls for a 0 percent increase the first year and a 1 percent increase the second year. Increases the previous three years were 3 percent, 3 percent and 2.5 percent.

Another recent contract, with the Service Employees International Union calls for 0 percent the first year and 1 percent the second.

Altogether, village hall has 11 unions, and Oak Park is working on new contracts for six of them, Spataro said.

“These unions have kind of stood up and been supportive of the village’s financial situation, and we’re all contributing to get through this,” Spataro said.


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