By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Fifteen dispatchers at the at the Quincy/Adams County 911 Center have a new three-year contract that will provide raises to employees, but will also require new hires to contribute to health care costs.
The 911 Governing Board unanimously approved the agreement with the employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 822 on Wednesday after meeting in closed session for less than 10 minutes.
Under the deal, which starts May 1, employees will receive a 23-cent raise during the first year of the contract and 33-cent raises during the second and third years. The raises range from 1.35 percent to 1.92 percent.
The current three-year agreement provided the dispatchers no raise in the first year and 2 percent raises in the second and third years.
Employees hired after May 1 will pay for 15 percent of the monthly health insurance premium. Current employees will continue to receive their entire premiums covered. All employees will continue to pay for 50 percent of the dependent coverage.
Mike Farha, chairman of the 911 Governing Board, said he believes the contract is fair to both sides.
"I think the employees get something, and I think we show we respect and honor their work," he said. "I think the taxpayer is a big winner."
Farha said he was pleased that the bargaining unit agreed to contribute to health insurance costs.
"We do know over the next three years that we are going to have some new employees," he said.
Steve Rowlands, director of the 911 center, said he expects a couple of retirements in the current fiscal year.
Ross Miller, business representative with the Machinists Local 822, said he considered the contract good for both sides.
"There was give and take on both sides," he said. "Both parties understood the situation we're in. Both parties worked really hard to come to an equitable agreement for everybody."
Under the contract, new employees will receive six hours of sick time per month. Current employees will continue to earn eight hours per month.
The dispatchers ratified the new agreement April 1.
The proposed operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year is $1.52 million. The facility receives 60 percent of its funding from the city of Quincy and 40 percent from the county. However, some funding is also provided from revenue generated by the Illinois Wireless Emergency Telephone System Act.