After working without a contract since the end of 2012, Riverside patrol officers and sergeants have agreed to a new four-year agreement with the village.
The contract, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013 and expires Dec. 31, 2016, calls for salary increases for officers in each year of the deal. It also changes the way police officers contribute toward health insurance premiums, bringing them in line with other village employees.
The Riverside Village Board unanimously approved the contract with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council Lodge #39 at its July 17 meeting.
While Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said negotiations were not adversarial, they did bog down particularly over the subject of “black-out” days, which are days where the chief can order officers to report for duty, even if they have the day off or are scheduled for vacation time.
Such days include Fourth of July, for example, or for periods of ramped-up enforcement for traffic or other details. According to the contract, the chief can designate up to 16 black-out days per year without officers being paid overtime.
For the last four months of talks this year, a federal mediator assisted in the negotiations.
“As chief, I wanted to maintain control of scheduling,” said Weitzel. “There was some negotiation over my ability to order officers in for black-out days, so there are only a certain amount of officers out during high-activity months.”
Weitzel reportedly wanted more than 16 black-out days per year, while police officers wanted fewer.
The contract also will keep in effect the permanent shift arrangement officers work under. That move, made in 2011, has dramatically cut down on the number of times officers call in sick, said Weitzel.
“Sick call outs dropped 40 percent in 2013,” said Weitzel. “I attribute that to the permanent shifts, where officers aren’t rotating shifts every 28 days.”
Police officers in 2015 will gain an additional paid holiday, Veterans Day, which will bring the number of paid holidays for police officers up to 11, plus two personal days. In 2011, Martin Luther King Day was added to the roster of paid holidays.
The contract calls for base salary increases of 2.5 percent each year, although the salary schedule does also include four step raises for police officers in their first seven years on the job. Sergeants have three step raises during their first nine years at that rank.
As a result a police officer whose starting base salary in 2014 was $64,017 will have a base salary in 2016 of $80,895, a total raise of 26.4 percent. The starting salary for a patrol officer in 2016 will be $67,257.
The base pay for a first year sergeant in 2014 is $95,093 and will be $99,907 in 2016.
Riverside police officers are better paid than their counterparts in both Brookfield and North Riverside, where the base salary for a rookie officer in 2014 was $56,286 and $53,584, respectively.
The difference said Weitzel is the result of a decision in the mid-2000s to raise base pay for patrol officers in order to prevent them leaving the department.
“We were spending a lot of money to rehire and retrain officers,” said Weitzel. “It was a way to attract officers to stay longer.”
Police officers will now pay 15 percent of health insurance premiums and 5 percent of dental insurance premiums, foregoing the lump-sum monthly payments for insurance premiums under former contracts.
“We will now have everyone on the same type of system,” said Village Manager Peter Scalera, “where the employees’ share of premiums will be calculated on a percentage basis rather than a dollar amount.”
3-year deal in Public Works
The village board on July 17 also approved a new three-year union contract with its employees in the Department of Public Works, who are represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73.
Public works employees’ prior contract expired Dec. 31, 2013. The new deal runs through Dec. 31, 2016.
Terms of the contract are similar to those in the police contract, with employees receiving 2.5 percent raises each year. Public works employees do not receive step raises per se.
In 2014, a first-year public works maintenance employee is paid $20.99 per hour. However, that employee receives a pay bump up to $23.06 after six months. There’s another pay raise after 18 months and after four years.
The top union positions in the department, foreman and forester II, are paid $30.03 in 2014 and will be paid $31.55 in 2016.
New in the contract is a $2,500 per year stipend for employees who are considered “crew leaders,” who have supervisory responsibility but are not foremen. The contract also aligns employee health insurance premium contributions with the percentage model versus the lump-sum cash model.