The custodians who work in Riverside Elementary School District 96 have a new contract, and they will probably have to pay for a small portion of their health insurance for the first time. 

Both the school board and the 14 custodians who work for the District 96 recently approved the new contract without a dissenting vote.

District 96 custodians are represented by Local 700 of the Teamsters union.

“It was just a very nice interaction,” said Interim Superintendent Patrick Patt who handled the contract negotiations for District 96. “We went through the whole thing and it came out to be very nice situation for everybody as you can tell by a unanimous vote, and all the board members felt pretty good about it too.”

Patt said negotiations were not contentious and that an agreement was reached in four or five sessions lasting perhaps a combined two-and-a-half hours.

Under the new four-year contract, each custodian will receive a $1,000 raise in the first two years. In the final two years of the contract, raises will be tied to the consumer price index (CPI). In 2018 and 2019, the custodians will receive raises that equal the rise in the CPI with a minimum raise of 1 percent and a maximum raise of 2.8 percent.

Patt said that the total additional cost to the district in the first year of the contract will be about 3 percent. 

Under the present contract, which expires on July 1, custodians received 3 percent raises each year. Currently, the highest paid custodian in District 96 is paid $24.69 an hour and the lowest paid custodian is paid $15.76 an hour. The majority of District 96 custodians are currently being paid $17.71 an hour.

The starting salary for new custodian is currently set at $15.45 an hour. That issue was not addressed in the current contract.

“That was an item that was never really discussed,” Patt said. “That’s the type of thing that would be worked out very informally.” 

The biggest change in the contract is that the custodians will be taken off the Teamsters health insurance plan and will join the district’s health insurance plan.

If the custodians had stayed on the Teamsters plan, the premiums would have increased from $1,091 per month per employee to more than $2,100 a month, Patt said. This year, the district paid about $183,000 in premiums for the custodians’ health insurance while the custodians paid nothing.

“That was actually the biggest sticking point,” Patt said. “Because they are such a small group, the Teamsters were about to raise their rate incredibly, and so we had to do something to get them on the plan that the teachers and the paraprofessionals and everybody is on here.” 

Next year the district will pay up to $190,675 to cover the premiums for the custodians’ health insurance. If the custodians’ premiums exceed that amount, the excess will be paid by the custodians out of their own pockets with the excess cost divided equally among each custodian. 

In the last three years of the contract, the district will pay for annual increases in premiums of up to 4 percent. If premiums increase by more than four percent, the custodians will have to pay the difference.

“They are each going to have to pay a small amount per month out of pocket in the first year and from that point on it all depends on how much the rates go up,” Patt said. “The custodians are accepting the fact that there’s going to be some out-of-pocket costs that they’ve never had before, but at least they’re not going to be paying any major part of a premium.”

Employees are responsible for the difference in cost if they select a PPO family plan instead of a HMO family plan.