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Hinsdale District 86 approves contract with student aides and security staff

The paraprofessionals and security staff at Hinsdale High School District 86 have a new contract, their first since deciding to unionize.

The union, named the Hinsdale Township High School Support Staff Association, includes about 110 one-on-one student aides, student safety monitors, library aides and other paraprofessionals in Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South high schools and the district’s transition center, association President John Kramer said.

Kramer said 87 percent of the association members voted for the agreement Feb. 9.

The District 86 Board approved the agreement Monday by a 4-2 vote.

The employees officially unionized in September 2014, and have not had a raise in more than two years, said Domenico Maniscalco, the district’s chief human resources officer.

“It’s our very first contract. We expected it to take awhile,” said Kramer, who works as a paraprofessional aid in the special education department.

He said the employees wanted to organize “to protect our jobs and to have some security.”

One of the big issues, Kramer said, was “new hires were making more than people who had been here 10 or more years.”

According to the terms of the contract, those employees who have worked for the district six or more years will receive a raise of $2.25 per hour, retroactive to July 1, 2016. Employees who have worked for the district from three to five years will receive a $2 an hour raise; and those who have two years or less experience will get a $1.25 hourly raise.

The raises are intended to “catch” the longer-tenured employees up to the people who were hired more recently, Kramer said.

The raises include compensation for the employees for giving up dental insurance, both district and association officials said.

The district also will pay a longevity bonus in September. The support staff covered by the contract who has worked for the district at least three years as of September will receive a one-time bonus of $2,000. Support staff who have worked for the district two years as of September, will receive a $1,000 bonus.

“This group of employees has historically been underpaid . . . and they have daily one-to-one contact with our students,” board President Kay Gallo said.

Under the contract, which goes into effect immediately and runs until June 30, 2021, the starting pay for newly hired paraprofessionals, those people who work as student aides, will be between $15 and $17.50, depending on their education and certification.

The starting pay for people who monitor student safety in and outside the school will be between $13.50 and $15 an hour.

The district also employs three nurses who assist special educations students with medical needs and who are members of the new union, Maniscalco said. The starting pay for their position is between $33 and $36 an hour, depending on their training and education.

The district will shift the cost of health insurance slightly more to the employee over the contract term and offer an insurance plan with an HMO and health saving account options. For the first year, the employees’ share of the premium will remain the same as it was before the contract. The district pays 92 percent of the premium and the employee pays 8 percent.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, however, the district will pay 90 percent and the employee 10 percent of the medical insurance premium. In the third to fifth years of the contract, the district and the employee will split equally any increases up to and including 8 percent. If the premiums rise by more than 8 percent over the prior year, the employee would pay 4 percent of the increase and the district would pay the balance of the increase.

During the next open enrollment period, any employee who switches their medical insurance coverage from a PPO option to an HMO option will receive a one-time $1,000 bonus.

Board members Ralph Beardsley, Bill Carpenter, Kathleen Hirsman and Gallo voted to approve the agreement. Board members Claudia Manley and Edward Corcoran voted against it.

“Not to say we don’t have great employees,” Corcoran said, but the healthcare benefits are too generous and unsustainable.

Manley said she, too, thinks the district is absorbing too much of the true cost of the employees’ insurance.

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