Park District reaches deal with trade unions

Five-year agreement leaves SEIU Local 73 as the agency’s last labor group still bargaining.

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Chicago Park District

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The Chicago Park District said Wednesday it has reached a five-year contract agreement with 22 trade unions, an announcement designed to pressure the agency’s largest union, which is threatening to strike.

The district said the agreement provides for annual wage increases while mandating an increase in employee healthcare contributions. It previously has reached a settlement with two other unions, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 and Teamsters Local 703.

“We are pleased that we’ve reached agreements with 24 of our 25 unions,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly. “I would like to personally thank union leadership for their efforts to reach a resolution that is mutually favorable for its members, the district and city taxpayers.”

The unresolved deal is with Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents two-thirds of the agency’s workforce, including program instructors, park attendants, recreation leaders, and park supervisors. A union spokesman could not immediately be reached.

Local 73 also represents Chicago Public Schools support staff, which is negotiating a contract. The Local 73 units and the Chicago Teachers Union have posed to Mayor Lori Lightfoot the threat of three strikes by public employee groups starting in a few days.

A Park District strike could start as early as Oct. 8 and could impact the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13.

The district’s deal with the trade unions includes 2.5% wage increase for each of the first three years for non-prevailing wage positions, followed by a 2.25% hike over the final two years. With a gradual increase of 1.5 percentage points in the healthcare contributions, the affected employees will be covering 15% of total healthcare costs, the agency said.

Park District Spokeswoman Michele Lemons said the agreement helps the agency’s underfunded pensions. She said the added healthcare contributions will go to the General Fund, which will allow the agency to afford additional pension contributions.

The agreement covers unions representing occupations such as electricians, carpenters, painters, cement masons, ironworkers and plumbers.

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