DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Village Council approved a new contract Aug. 5 that raises wages by 6 percent for the village's firefighters, cumulatively, over three years.
The labor contract with the village's firefighters and paramedics applies to 70 employees and gives a 3 percent raise this year, 2 percent in 2015 and 1 percent in 2016.
The 3 percent increase brings the starting pay for a first-year firefighter up from $60,175 to $61,980. A firefighter with five years on the job will receive a pay increase from $84,041 to $86,562 under the new contract.
Resident Bill Wrobel questioned the 6 percent raise and asked the council whether due diligence was done in negotiating the contract.
"As with the teachers … under the circumstances in the last few years, people with contracts that are monitored with the villages are a privileged lot," he said. "They do a lot better than the general public does in their quest for wages."
Mayor Martin Tully and other members of the council defended the village's labor negotiations and supported the contract.
"It is an arm's length negotiated situation, within the parameters defined by the law," he said. "We are very mindful of the limited resources, and it's no different from negotiating anything else – trying to get the best outcome possible. But like any bargain, it is a compromise by any definition."
The council voted 5-1 to pass the contract, with Village Commissioner Bob Barnett voicing the lone "no" vote.
"I think this contract is very well negotiated," Village Commissioner Greg Hose said. "Six percent is in line with what we've seen with other municipalities in negotiating with their fire departments."
Barnett spoke complimentary regarding the village's due diligence in negotiating the contract but said he has an issue with labor contracts "structurally."
Commissioner Sean Durkin was absent.
For more information about the village council and to see what's trending in Downers Grove, visit http://www.downers.us/
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