Employment contracts approved by Illinois county's workers

County workers throughout Illinois may have heard that the Will County employees were on strike. Recently, the employees' unions ended the 16-day strike when employment contracts received members' approval. Five different contracts were voted on -- one for each of the bargaining units involved in the negotiations.

Initially, health insurance premiums were going to rise, which meant that premiums could be over twice what they were for some employees. It is said that this is what caused employees to go on strike. Negotiations during the strike capped insurance premiums and removed the two lowest pay levels, which led to the recent contract approvals.

The last step is for the Will County Board to vote on the contracts. That vote was scheduled for Dec. 19. If approved, the contracts will provide raises to county workers, retroactively, from Dec. 1, 2012, through Jan. 1, 2016. These raises are in addition to the regular raises employees receive each year they are with the county.

The negotiation of contracts can put Illinois businesses in a tenuous position. Unions have procedures in place to strike if they do not believe employers are being fair during negotiations. Many workers are prepared to make a short-term sacrifice for long-term gains in their contracts.

Realistically, a strike can irreparably harm a business if it lasts for a significant amount of time. Negotiating employment contracts can easily degrade into a battle of wills if both sides are not amenable to compromise. As the economy continues its struggle to rebound and medical costs and insurance continue to rise, many businesses and unions are doing what they can to protect their interests while satisfying both parties.

Source: southtownstar.suntimes.com, Will County workers approve contracts, Cindy Wojdyla Cain, Dec. 5, 2013

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