Striking Thorn Creek Basin workers to return Friday

2013-04-24T16:35:00Z Striking Thorn Creek Basin workers to return FridayBy Gregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
April 24, 2013 4:35 pm  • 

CHICAGO HEIGHTS | A two-month picket by Teamsters members of the Thorn Creek Basin Sanitary District will come to an end this week.

District and union officials reached agreement Wednesday on a deal that provides pay raises, but also requires union members pay more for health insurance benefits.

The deal tentatively reached between Teamsters Local 705 and the district calls for pay raises of between 3.5 and 4 percent each year for the next three beginning May 1 – the beginning of the district’s fiscal year.

For what is left of the current fiscal year, the 13 workers represented by the Teamsters will receive a 3.8 percent pay hike.

Part of why the two sides had been unable to reach agreement on a contract and why the Teamsters began a picket of the facility in early March was because district officials wanted the union members to have to pay a share of the health insurance and other benefits they receive.

“They weren’t paying anything,” Hindel said.

Teamsters officials said the district was not negotiating in good faith and filed an unfair labor practices charge.

Under the deal, union members will pay 12 percent of the cost of their insurance coverage for the fiscal year beginning May 1. On May 1, 2014, they will pay 15 percent and for the fiscal year beginning May 1, 2015, they will pay 20 percent.

“This deal is good for everyone,” said Hindel, adding it would not become official until after both the union and the district’s board approve it.

Teamsters officials are expected to take a vote on the contract during the next two weeks, while Hindel said the district’s board would schedule a special meeting in May to vote on the deal, pending Teamsters' approval.

During the seven-week labor walkout, district officials kept the facility open with non-union labor.

Thorn Creek is a wastewater treatment provider for south suburban businesses, along with about 100,000 residents in Chicago Heights, Crete, Homewood, Park Forest, South Chicago Heights and Steger.

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