Dist. 16 food service workers settle for 4.1 percent increase

Food service workers in Spring Lake Park District 16 will receive a 4.11 percent increase in wages and benefits over the next two contract years.

The school board in a 6-0 vote approved the contract between the district and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 at its Nov. 13 regular school board meeting.

Boardmember John Stroebel was away on business.

In a further breakdown of the contract, the workers will receive a 3.81 percent increase in the first contract year and a 0.29 percent increase in the second year.

The district food service employees, numbering 35, had been working without a contract since June 30.

The group includes cooks, line servers and cashiers.

The contract settlement was reached after two negotiating sessions.

“It went really well,” said Ryan Stromberg, District 16’s human resources director.

Stromberg, along with LaToya Jefferson, the district’s human resources manager, represented the school district at the bargaining table. Russ Lewis represented SEIU.

“The food service staff did an outstanding job in understanding where the economy is at and where we’re at as a district,” Stromberg said about the settlement.

Said Lewis: “The negotiations only took two meetings and both sides were up front and honest. An amicable agreement was reached that satisfied the needs of both parties, especially in these tough economic times.”

The new salary schedule remains the same as last year’s, but in the first year of the contract, workers will take a step increase. Those at the top of the schedule will receive a one-time payment of $500.

A first-year worker at the low end of the scale, a lunch line cashier, for instance, will continue to make $11.90 an hour, the same wage as under the last contract. Workers at the higher end of the scale, such as a lead cook at the high school, will receive $22.45 an hour.

Certified food managers will receive an additional increase from 55 cents an hour under the former contract to 60 cents an hour for the first and second year of the contract.

In the second year of the contract, food service workers will not take a step increase, but all of the workers will get a one-time payment of $300.

Under the new contract, the district will contribute $520 per month for single health coverage, an increase of $40 from last year’s contribution of $480. The contribution remains the same in the second year of the contract.

For family health coverage, the district will increase its contribution from $615 per month under the last contract to $665 per month for the first and second year of the new contract.

The new contract calls for an increase in the district’s monthly contribution to dental insurance from $30 to $35.

Food service workers continue to receive $50,000 of term life insurance at a cost to the district of about 9 cents per $1,000 of coverage.

Total additional cost to the district for the new contract is $22,799, according to Stromberg.

The contract period is from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014. Food workers will receive retroactive pay.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]