CHICAGO – Today Mayor Lori E Lightfoot and Chicago Park District, General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly announced that the District has reached an agreement with SEIU Local 73, avoiding a work stoppage of 2400 employees. After more than 12 hours of negotiations, the District and union reached a deal late Tuesday evening that includes wages increases for hourly and monthly employees, healthcare concerns and lays a foundation to reform the District’s failing pension fund.
“We are pleased that we’ve reached agreements with SEIU Local 73,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly. “I would like to personally thank union leadership for their efforts to reach a resolution that puts Chicago’s children first, addresses the needs of our workforce, protects taxpayers and provides reform measures for the District’s pension.”
Terms of the agreement with the SEIU include wage increases that range from 10% to 28% over the four and a half year deal. For the first time ever, the District will provide paid vacation to hourly employees based on the number of hours worked. In addition, SEIU Local 73 members have agreed to pay an additional 1.5% over the next three years toward their healthcare costs. Beginning in 2023, through these increases, employees will be collectively responsible for 15% of the Chicago Park District’s total health care costs, which will be formulated as a percentage of salary. The Chicago Park District’s other 24 unions have also agreed to the healthcare contribution increases.
“By negotiating in good faith and reaching a bargaining agreement with SEIU Local 73, the City is affirming our respect for the Chicago Park District employees who run programs, manage facilities and keep residents safe,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Chicagoans take immense pride in their community’s parks and this agreement ensures they will remain cultural gems and places for recreation, civic engagement and City programing.”
The agreement gives the District’s lowest-paid employees the highest wage increase in Park District history. Hourly attendants will see a 28% increase; hourly instructors will see a 21% increase and hourly recreation leaders will see a 15.5% over the next four and a half years.
The District’s portion of health care costs for its workers is $23.2 million for 2019. These contributions are projected to increase going forward. This is the first healthcare premium increase in more than five years. The increase in employee healthcare contributions will allow the District to contribute more to its pension fund without burdening city taxpayers.
“Chicago’s Parks are a vital resource for this entire city, and the people who keep it running provide a valuable service for everyone who lives and visits here,” said Alderman Michael Scott (24). “This agreement demonstrates the commitment that SEIU Local 73 and the District have to work together for the good of the entire city.”
SEIU represents nearly two-thirds of the Chicago Park District workforce, including program instructors, park attendants, recreation leaders, park supervisors, landscape and security.