CAROL STREAM – After nearly nine months of negotiations, Carol Stream firefighters have a new three-year contract that includes an annual 2.5 percent pay increase.
The previous three-year contract expired in May of last year. Carol Stream Fire Chief Richard Kolomay said the district and the firefighters union have been working on an agreement since March 2013.
The new terms, including the hourly rate increases, are retroactive to June 2013, said Carol Stream Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 3192 President Lt. Rick Bonk, president of the union.
In addition to the annual pay raise, the 46 firefighters covered by the agreement will receive an increase in acting duty pay, when a firefighter fills in for a lieutenant or a lieutenant fills in for a battalion chief, Kolomay said.
The department’s “antiquated” life insurance policy coverage was increased from $50,000 to $100,000, he said.
Firefighters who sign up to work on special projects such as training or cleaning during days off also will receive an additional $1.50 per hour, Kolomay said.
“The thing that took us so long to try to come to a final agreement was health insurance,” he said.
Kolomay said the district wanted to find a high deductible health plan that included a health savings account but ran out of time while researching the changes in the new health care law.
The enrollment deadline for such a transition was Jan. 1, Kolomay said, and there was “no way we could get it done” by that date.
With the Affordable Care Act now in effect, Kolomay said district employees are facing new fees.
He estimated the average firefighter’s family is paying $500 to $700 more in administrative fees this year compared to last.
But Kolomay is confident the department will be able to find a plan that lowers costs and provides equal or better health coverage to firefighters by the time the next enrollment period opens Aug. 1.
“We’re pretty well on top of the issue,” Bonk said.
Healthcare issues aside, Bonk said overall, “we’ve got a nice contract.”