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McLean County Board to vote on new union contract with jail officers

WGLT file
The McLean County jail expansion opened in spring 2019.

The McLean County Board is expected to vote Thursday on a new contract for the union that represents correctional officers at the jail – where staffing shortages recently caused some inmates to be sent out of the county.

The county’s last contract with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 176 for its correctional employees expired in December 2020. Both sides have been negotiating a new contract for the past two years.

That five-year contract goes before the County Board at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Government Center.

According to a memo summarizing the contract, it calls for:

  • Pay-step increases of between 3-5% annually from 2021 to 2025. Those changes are retroactive for current employees. Pro-rated amounts will be paid to employees who left after Jan. 1, 2021, in good standing and with at least 10 years of service, or with a duty-connected disability.
  • A $1,500 bonus to employees employed on the date of ratification and still employed at the end of the contract (five years).
  • Payment of the balance of a COVID-based bonus up to $1,000 to employees who previously received less than $1,000. Must have been employed during relevant time.
  • A sick leave policy that is more in line with the sick leave policy utilized by the county with other departments. It’s modeled after the sick leave policy followed by the sheriff’s deputies.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the County Board is expected to consider a proposed Correctional Officer Recruiting Incentive.

Sheriff Matt Lane said he hoped the new contract, including wage increases, will help ease staffing shortages at the jail. Lane recently sent around 60 of his inmates to the LaSalle County jail because staff shortages in McLean County threatened to create safety and burnout issues. Lane said he hoped it would be “very temporary” as they got more recruits into the correctional-officer training pipeline.

Many employers are struggling to fill jobs during a national labor crunch, and law enforcement has felt that more acutely amid changing public sentiment toward policing.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.