You can’t exactly blame police officers in North Riverside for wanting to hang onto the lifetime, post-retirement health insurance perk that’s been part of their contract for decades.
Who would want to give up such a gold-plated perk, which will benefit them and their families? Not many people.
Then again, not many can even conceive of such a perk being part of their employment deal. For folks in the private sector, health insurance premiums keep rising. Even well-insured families pay thousands of dollars annually toward health insurance premiums.
For whatever reason, the village of North Riverside handed all its employees this perk many years ago. Two years ago, the village started coming to its senses and ended the perk for any new non-union employees (current employees, of course, wanted to keep that perk intact). Thanks to the cooperation of firefighters, they also were able to end the perk for newly hired firefighters after a long negotiating process.
Earlier this month, the village and police officers agreed to a new three-year contract. Of course, it took two and a half years to negotiate the contract, so both sides will have to begin the dance all over again in a matter of weeks.
But the lifetime health insurance perk remains intact for police. It has to go.
It is simply unfair for taxpayers to have to fund lifetime health insurance for police officers and their dependents when they can barely pay to insure themselves. It’s also unfair to the rest of the employees in the village, who have sacrificed that perk in the face of common sense and the village’s fiscal viability.
Police will continue to have excellent benefits without that perk. Anyone currently a member of the force will continue to have that lifetime health insurance available to them, just like their colleagues in the firehouse, the public works building and in village hall.
New hires will have to address that issue differently. That’s the new normal.