EAST PEORIA, Ill.– After months of discussion and a threat of arbitration, the East Peoria City Council voted to approve a new firefighter union contract.
It all started two months ago when Commissioner Mike Sutherland wanted a residency clause in the contract.
Another sticking point surrounded Commissioner Dan Decker. He’s an Assistant Fire Chief so voting on a firefighter contract was questioned if it was a conflict of interest.
The council couldn’t come to an agreement amongst themselves to find an answer to that question.
So, the city forked over cash to a Chicago law firm to see if Commissioner Decker was in a conflict of interest if he voted for the contract; however, Decker isn’t a part of the union.
The results came back incomplete saying no precedent has been set.
“It was an uncomfortable situation, but I was willing to vote on it if it was legal,” said Commissioner Dan Decker. “Now that it sounds like and I appreciate everyone coming to an agreement, now it sounds like there is an agreement without the need for me to step in, I’ll certainly step aside and allow the vote to happen. I’m just going to abstain on this.”
In an effort to get this contract passed, Commissioner Seth Mingus mediated changes he thought both could come to an agreement on.
“The changes that were discussed were related to the salary increases or the salary increase in year one, as well as the sick time buy out that was in the previous reading on the contract,” said Commissioner Seth Mingus. “The current contract that’s on for its first reading in it is the same, with the exception of there is no sick time buy out in year one of the contract.”
The contract passed 4-0.
Commissioner Mike Sutherland abandoned his once hard position for a residency clause. Mayor John Kahl changed his vote to “yes,” once the sick-time buyback program and salary changes were made.
The contract now seeks final approval come December.