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ISU clerical union approves 3-year contract

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NORMAL - Illinois State University's clerical union overwhelmingly OK'd a three-year contract Monday.

Voting for the 330 members was from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday at the ISU Center for Visual Arts. The ratification came one week after the union and ISU administration agreed to a tentative version of the document.

Negotiations between the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3236 and ISU began in May. The union represents ISU support staff, including secretaries, clerks and library assistants.

The group's contract expired June 30. The new deal is retroactive to July 1.

The contract calls for a 3 percent wage increase each of the next three fiscal years, said ASCME Local 3236 President Karen Dunton on Monday evening. Employees who entered the bargaining unit between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2006, will get an additional 1 percent for the first year of the contract and 0.5 percent for the second year, she said.

"We like to bring the bottom (wage) people up," she said. "It helps get and keep good, quality people."

"I want to thank the members of both bargaining committees for negotiating a fair contract for this valued group of staff members," said ISU President Al Bowman. "Our secretaries, clerks and library specialists are an important part of Illinois State's success story, and I thank them for ratifying a contract that will take them through the 2008-09 academic year."

Last month, Bowman said clerical workers' pay was on par with peer institutions. Pay for ISU clerical workers is second only to similar workers at the University of Illinois, he said.

Of the local's 330 members, the average income is $28,000, and about one-third of the union's membership earns less than $23,000 per year each, Dunton said.

An agreement in November is not unusual for both sides. "The timing of the tentative agreement is pretty standard with our group," Dunton said last week.

Phyllis Coulter contributed to this story.

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