The village of Riverside and its public works employees have agreed to a five-year contract that will provide pay raises each year and create a new non-union supervisory position to establish a “succession plan” that the department presently lacks.

The contract between the village and Service Employees International Union Local 73, which was approved unanimously by the Riverside Village Board on May 4, is retroactive to Jan. 1 and expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

Prior public works contracts have been for three years.

“We’re happy with a five-year contract rather than a three-year,” said Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances. “It’s costly to go through the negotiating process.”

The contract calls for pay increases of 2.5 percent in 2017 and 2018, a 2.75-percent increase in 2019 and 3-percent increases in 2020 and 2021. Employees also make additional pay of between 25 cents and 75 cents per hour for holding special licenses for things like water operations and for pesticide/herbicide application. 

Crew leaders earn an additional $1.20 per hour, and employees who have associate, bachelor or master’s degrees also earn a stipend of between a half percent and 1 percent of their base salary in addition to their regular pay.

Public works employees pay 15 percent of individual and family HMO health insurance premiums and 5 percent for dental coverage. Each union employee is also provided a $50,000 life insurance policy.

The Riverside Public Works Department has a staff of 10 people, seven of whom are union employees as of Jan. 1.

The village sought and got the union to agree to create a new non-union superintendent position, who will serve as the department’s No. 2 supervisor and who would ideally be the top choice to replace the director in the case of retirement or resignation.

“The goal is to have a succession plan for that department,” Frances said.

An opportunity to create the superintendent position presented itself earlier this year, when longtime water operations Foreman Kevin Wolters retired. The new superintendent will also take on the responsibilities of the water foreman, according to a memorandum of agreement approved by both the union and village as part of the new contract.

At present, public works employee Dan Tabb has assumed the role of water operator in charge, pending the naming of a superintendent.

Frances said she will conduct a search, which could be internal, external or both, to find candidates for the superintendent position.