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New employee contracts impact county's 2018 budget

Cook County courthouse
Cook County courthouse

During a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Jan. 23, a three-year labor contract with the Cook County Employee Association was approved.
County Administrator Jeff Cadwell spoke with WITP’s Jay Andersen about the labor contract and its relation to the classification and compensation study that was recently completed by the county.
Following that interview, WTIP sent an email to Cadwell regarding the financial impact the new employee contracts will have on the county’s budget in 2018. In a response dated Feb. 2, Cadwell noted the following impacts the new labor contract will have this year:
Financial Impact of New Contracts in 2018
·     2.5% COLA increase                                                                         $175,000
·     Implementation of Class/Comp Study                                         $75,000
·     Addition of longevity pay at 10,15 and 20 years                         $95,000
·     CCEA equalization, step adjustment                                            $116,000
The total financial impact of the new contracts in 2018, based on these numbers, is $461,000.
The contract includes the county paying 80 percent of health insurance benefits for county staff, while the employee covers the remaining 20 percent.
Below is a complete summary of the information the county provided WTIP:
Cook County has recently ratified new three-year agreements with each of its employee bargaining units: the LELS (Law Enforcement), 49ers (Highway Department) and CCEA (Cook County Employee Association), and is moving to implement to results of the completed Keystone Class/Comp Study over the coming weeks. The basic elements of the new three-year contracts are now the same across each of the three groups and are also applicable to the non-represented county employees including department heads, supervisors and confidential employees. Standardized terms include:
·     Three-year contract effective Jan. 1, 2018 – Dec 31, 2020.
·     Adoption of the recommendations of the Keystone Class/Comp Study and the proposed wage scale.
·     Combination of eight different pay scales into a single pay scale to streamline and standardize the wage scale
·     2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in each of the three years
·     Change in employer/employee cost-share for health benefits to 80/20. All County employees will now contribute 20%
·     Addition of a longevity incentive for 10 (4%), 15 (7%) and 20 (9%) years of service.
·     Synchronization of Paid Time Off (PTO) accrual schedules.
LELS Contract-Specific Provisions:
·     Modification of shift differential and special duty pay for Field Training Officer (FTO) hours.
49er Contract-Specific Provisions:
·     Modification of call-in pay for Sundays and holidays.
CCEA Contract-Specific Provisions:
·     Reconciliation with other group salary schedules, increasing each member by one step on the wage scale.
Financial Impact of New Contracts in FY2018
·     2.5% COLA increase                                                                   $175,000
·     Implementation of Class/Comp Study                                   $75,000
·     Addition of longevity pay at 10,15 and 20 years                   $95,000
·     CCEA equalization, step adjustment                                      $116,000
The 2.5 percent increase and implementation of the Class/Comp Study were planned for and included in the 2018 Budget. The addition of the longevity increases and the equalization of the CCEA are items that were negotiated. Adjustments to the budget to accommodate these changes will likely be in the form of deferring planned staff changes. The county budget of nearly $20 million includes approximately $7 million in payroll, and $2.5 million in benefits. The county has 29 single health contracts and 74 family contracts, an annual expense of $1,781,304 – the 20 percent change in allocation of health care premium will shift approximately $356,260 of the premium cost to County employees.  
The changes, which do cost extra in the first year ($211,000), will help the county to manage and administer the entire personnel budget in future years.