Committee approves labor contracts for thousands of city workers

This is the final step before going to ratification at the full City Council on September 13th. We’re almost there!


Chicago Sun Times Logo

By  Fran Spielman   Sept 7, 2023

Committee approves labor contracts for thousands of city workers

The deal’s prevailing wage portion covers 7,000 members of 30 trade unions employed by 16 city departments. Those workers also will now accrue half a day of sick leave per month and be eligible for 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

“The private sector and government compete for labor. If the private sector is offering more in salary, we’ve got to be competitive in order to have a great workforce.”

Cicely Porter Adams, chief labor negotiator for the city’s Law Department, did not reveal the cost of the entire five-year deal or how the city intends to pay for it, saying only: “We believe that each of these agreements represents the best deal possible for the city of Chicago, the employees represented and the city as an employer.”

Rodriguez, however, did peg this year’s cost of the contract at $30 million.

The prevailing wage portion of the agreement covers 7,000 members of 30 different trade unions employed by 16 city departments. For the first time, they will be able to accrue a half-day of sick leave every month. They will also be eligible for 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

“Unlike the rest of the city, where employees receive vacation days and sick days, this bargaining unit only receives vacation days. They have to use vacation for sick days. Coming out of pandemic, this was top of mind during negotiations,” Adams said.

The “prevailing wage,” set by the U.S. Department of Labor, is based on the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime paid in the largest city in each county to the majority of workers, laborers and mechanics. Prevailing wages are established for each trade and occupation employed in the performance of public work.

In Chicago, the prevailing wage dates to former Mayor Richard J. Daley. In exchange for handshake agreements, the elder Daley paid city trades the same hourly rate as their private sector counterparts — though city trades work year-round, while private sector work is seasonal with fewer fringe benefits.

Under separate, five-year agreements, 40 members of the Illinois Nurses Association employed by the city’s Department of Public Health and the Office of Public Safety Administration and 30 members of the Illinois Council of Police who work for the Department of Aviation will receive 3% retroactive pay raises, also effective July 1, 2022.