July 19, 2018

Fighting for fairness at the Village of Schaumburg

After 23 years of service, Village of Schaumburg employee Norma Higgins had hundreds of hours of sick time saved—but she couldn’t use one day to care for her husband who was fighting cancer. That injustice is just one reason why AFSCME Local 1919 members in Schaumburg won’t quit until they win a fair contract.

AFSCME Local 1919 members like Higgins provide valuable services to Village of Schaumburg residents but are not being treated with respect as they negotiate for fair pay and policies with their employer. After more than a year of contract negotiations, management has refused to budge on issues of basic fairness and decency.

The village’s stubborn refusal to address employees’ concerns is very personal for Higgins, an administrative secretary, who has been unable to use her sick time to care for her husband as he battles cancer.

Higgins and her co-workers took this and other concerns directly to the village board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, June 26. Higgins testified to the board that night, hoping that her story would move the board to act on their behalf. But so far it is has failed to do so.

Here is an excerpt from Norma Higgins’ testimony:

Every day, the employees of Schaumburg come to work with one goal in mind: to provide the highest quality municipal service.. All we ask for in return is fair compensation and respect on the job.

I also serve on the AFSCME bargaining committee. For more than a year we have walked away from almost every negotiation session frustrated at the village’s unwillingness to listen to our concerns.

One concern we raised at the bargaining table is quite personal to me. Currently, employees are not allowed to use our earned sick time to care for an immediate family member that is ill. Our bargaining unit is majority female. As we all know, the burden of care for sick relatives falls disproportionately on women, even those of us who work full time.

Unfortunately, a year into negotiations, village management has still not agreed to our common sense proposal to allow us to use up to six days of sick time to care for sick family members.

I have been employed by the village for 23 years. To date I have earned 1,385 hours in sick time because I have been fortunate enough not to have faced a serious illness of my own.

However, in September of last year, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and then he had three separate surgeries.

One can imagine the disappointment and hurt I felt after working years and earning hundreds of hours of sick time when I was told I couldn’t use one day of that accumulated time to care for my spouse.

The Village of Schaumburg was ranked the best place to live in Illinois because it offers a healthy economy, affordable homes and a high quality of life. This is also due, in large part to the hard work and dedication of Village employees. As a representative of the AFSCME bargaining team, I call on village management and the board of trustees to listen to its employees and work with our bargaining team to settle a fair contract for AFSCME members and village residents alike.

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