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Chicago Park District union workers reach tentative contract agreement

Chicago Park District union reaches tentative deal to avert strike
Chicago Park District union reaches tentative deal to avert strike 00:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than two weeks after authorizing a strike, the union representing more than 2,200 Chicago Park District workers has reached a tentative contract agreement to avoid a walkout.

SEIU Local 73 did not disclose the new contract terms with the Chicago Park District, which must be ratified by union members and approved by the district's board.

The Park District said the deal "enables the District to continue to offer the programs and services that Chicago residents have come to expect and deserve while offering a fair and robust wage package to the members of SEIU Local 73, including year-round, part-time and seasonal workers."

"The employees of SEIU Local 73 make up the majority of the District's dedicated workforce. Their professional duties are essential to maintaining our parks and supporting children and families in every neighborhood of the city. We are grateful to have arrived at a package that provides benefits that are in the best interest of our workforce, the District and the children and families we serve," the district said in a statement.

Most of the union's members voted to authorize a strike in late March amid stalled talks on a new contract. The union also asked Mayor Brandon Johnson to intervene in negotiations.

The union sought pay raises for all staff, a $20 per hour starting wage for park jobs, access to health insurance for all Park District staff, more full-time positions, and a fair and transparent promotion process.

SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer claimed the Park District had closed nearly a third of its programs over the past five years "due to the staffing crisis caused by low wages and inadequate benefits."

"However, with this new contract, we are beginning to reverse this trend. It's a positive step towards improving the parks and the services our members provide, benefiting everyone in our communities," Palmer said in a statement.

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