Woodford County weighs universal raise for employees

Nick Vlahos GateHouse Media Illinois

During its meeting Tuesday night, the County Board is expected to discuss the proposed hikes. They would apply to about half the county’s 50 or so employees, according to Treasurer Melissa Andrews.

In 2012, the county finalized a four-year contract with unionized employees. Many of them work in the sheriff’s department or the county clerk’s office, Andrews indicated.

The union agreement called for a 3½-percent raise in the first year and 2½-percent raises in subsequent years.

“Whether non-union or union, I think they deserve the same money,” said Terry Pille, chairman of the board’s county offices committee.

Last week, Pille’s committee discussed the proposed increases. Many of the affected employees work in the state’s attorney’s and circuit clerk’s offices, according to Andrews.

Pille joined committee members Don Cremeens and Andrew Martin in voting to forward the proposal to the full board. Mike

Hinrichsen voted no. Another committee member, Dean Backer, was absent.

Hinrichsen argued non-union pay raises should be based more on job performance than on what union counterparts were receiving.

“This is almost the reverse of pattern bargaining,” he said. “I don’t agree with reverse pattern bargaining. That doesn’t mean I won’t vote for it, but I just wanted to express my feelings.”

Pille said the county was attempting to follow the prevailing wage in the area, although he acknowledged that can be a matter of opinion.

“Merit raises are very difficult to hand out in governmental jobs,” he said.

Pille indicated the raises, if approved, would be retroactive to Dec. 1.