The village of Brookfield and its public works employees look like they have repaired a relationship, which appeared frayed at the beginning of 2017, after the village board earlier this month agreed to a new three-year contract with Teamsters Local 705, which represents union employees of the department.
Retroactive to Jan. 1, the new deal is the first that really incorporates language the Teamsters wanted, replacing some holdover language from when public works employees were represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Public works employees changed union representation in 2014.
The deal calls for employees to receive base pay raises of 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.75 percent each successive year of the contract, although actual raises over the life of the contract will total between 10 and 11 percent because the pay schedule includes step raises.
A new public works entry-level employee hired in 2017 will be paid $50,122. That employee would see his or her pay increase to $55,406 by the third year of the deal because of the step raises.
The top salary for a union public works employee by the end of the deal will be $82,677. Anyone who has maxed out step raises at any pay range will receive a base pay raise each year.
In addition to salaries, employees who have attained special certification will receive annual stipends. For example, any employee who is a certified arborist will receive an annual stipend of $225 per year. The department’s chief water operator will get a stipend of $350 annually.
The employee share of health insurance premiums has not changed with the new deal. Union employees are still responsible for 15 percent of health insurance premiums, unless the employee chooses a PPO plan, in which case the employee will be responsible for paying the difference between the PPO and HMO plan premiums.
Both sides have agreed that after-hours callouts for incidents like water main breaks and other extra duty will be based on the skill required and employee seniority. The contract also includes updated language regarding drugs and alcohol, and it increases employees’ annual uniform allowance to $140 and annual boot allowance to $175.
Probably the most notable change in the contract is language related to handling employee grievances and discipline.
The new contract sets out a clear, multi-step policy for handling such cases. According to the new deal, grievances regarding written and verbal reprimands will be handled internally.
The union can first take up a grievance with the director of public works. If the matter can’t be settled there, the grievance can advance to the village manager. Any other grievances related to the interpretation or application of the contract are arbitration-eligible after failing to come to a resolution after going through the same two-step process.
The new deal was negotiated by the union and village management, but Public Works Director Amy Wagner, whose first day on the job was Sept. 18, was not part of the negotiating team. The village board approved the contract on Oct. 9.