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Homewood library employees get contract extension and raise

After all the acrimony and angst that went into getting a union contract for Homewood library staff members two years ago, approval of the contract renewal was uneventful.

The seven-member library board unanimously approved the contract during its Nov. 17 board meeting. The union members had earlier approved the contract extension.

The 31 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (ASCME) are in full- and part-time positions. They will get a 2.75% salary increase each year over the three-year life of the contract. They will get Juneteenth, a newly declared national holiday, as a floating day off. There also will no longer be a waiting period before a staff member is eligible for healthcare benefits.

The contract also calls for a financial award for employees who meet employment anniversaries. A $100 award will be given to staff working at the library for five years. The award goes up by $100 for each five-year increment of employment.

The agreement also calls for persons in Clerk 1 positions to automatically move into Clerk 2 status after a year.

Library staff members decided to organize after they didn’t get a pay increase for several years. They organized with ASCME and negotiated for approximately two years to come to an agreement in 2019 that spelled out terms of employment, salaries and benefits.

In other business, the board approved a levy of $2,837,400. It reflects an increase of 3%. The board earlier approved a $3.29 million budget that held costs at the same level as last year.

The board agreed to a change in the Flexible Savings Account plan. The employee elects to put money in the account for health care needs. Currently, if money in the employee’s account isn’t spent by Dec. 31, it reverts to the company holding the account. The board agreed to extend the spending deadline to May 31 of the following year.

“It’s their money. If we can extend the deadline, I’m in favor of giving them more time,” said board member Catherine Uecker.

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