Local 3328 makes big improvements in wages
Members of Local 3328 in DuPage County Probation went into bargaining for their most recent contract knowing that they were going to make wages a key focus. Cost of living is up, and like governments everywhere, the county was bleeding talented people who were leaving for other higher-paying jobs.
“Like most places, we were having trouble keeping people employed,” said local president Shannon Heatley, a senior probation officer. “We knew our starting salary wasn’t competitive anymore with surrounding counties. We are a well-known, well-respected probation department in the state, but our starting salary was still so low that we couldn’t retain people.”
But what they ultimately won went far beyond just a cost-of -living increase and bump in starting salary. The smallest increase for each employee was $7,000, and the average across all members of the bargaining unit was 16% in the first year and 25% over the three-year life of the contract.
“Some of the new people coming in, I got to tell them they get a $7,000 raise in December,” Heatley said. “They were besides themselves with excitement. We’ve had people almost in tears about the increase. They were relieved. They wanted to stay in this job, and this increase goes a long way.”
On top of the wages, they won improved language on paid time off and five new personal days. They also got the county to agree to reimburse workers for fees necessary to obtain special licenses that are required for certain positions.
Another win was improving language around safety. As probation officers, they work in unsafe situations out in the community. The new contract solidifies the county’s responsibility to make sure everyone who works in the community has been fitted for a bulletproof vest and is trained on a two-way radio.
Heatley said one of her goals as president has been to work more collaboratively with management. She says her efforts paid off.
“I wanted bargaining to be less adversarial, and I think it was a success,” she said. “In the past we’ve negotiated for one to two years. This time around we really developed relationships. It helped us all see that we were in it for the same goal. We wanted a lot of the same things.”
The bargaining team was led by Council 31 Staff Representative Cameron Day and included Heatley, Ken Obremski, Jacob Schultz, Jodie Fox, Patti Garoutte and Karina Valdez.