- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CAIRO, Ill. (AP) - A public housing authority in Illinois that has been plagued by mismanagement and other problems provided generous retirement contracts to employees just before the director left.

The contracts were negotiated with employees represented by the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 773, The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/2pSEwGa ) reported. The terms of the retirement agreements are all different, and it seems as if they were negotiated outside the normal process for union employees.

The newspaper obtained documents about the retirement contracts from the Alexander County Housing Authority through public records requests made in 2015 and in late April. The second request was made to the Jefferson County Housing Authority because its executive director briefly served a dual role in Alexander County at the request of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department in an attempt to stabilize the situation.

In one of the contracts from June 2011, employee Ronald Clayton Greenley agreed to a voluntary layoff of between zero and 18 months in which he was to continue working one day a week. The contract said the Alexander County Housing Authority was to pay for his family health coverage during this time as well as his pension as if he were a full-time worker.

It’s unclear whether the individual contracts were negotiated in accordance with Illinois’ labor relations laws or regulations governing organized workers and public sector employers.

Illinois Labor Relations Board general counselor Helen Kim said the legality for a public sector employer to negotiate individual retirement buyouts with union workers would depend on what the contract said about retiring workers’ rights and benefits. But Kim said there’s a general expectation that a public sector employer only negotiate with the union representative of the collective bargaining unit about benefits for union employees.

The former Alexander County Housing Authority director, James Wilson, previously defended the contracts as cost-saving moves designed to save the agency money.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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