Riverside’s village board voted 5-0 on June 16 to approve a new five-year contract for the seven employees in the public works department who are represented by Service Employees International Union Local 73.

The new deal, which is retroactive to Jan. 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2026 is a bit of give-and-take, offering employees a 4.93-percent hike in their hourly rate in the first year of the contract and 2.5-percent increases in the remaining years.

However, union employees have agreed to increase the amount they will pay for health and dental insurance premiums. The employee contribution of health/dental insurance premiums in the new contract is 20 percent, up from the 15 percent in the prior five-year-deal. 

In the prior contract, employees paid just 5 percent of dental insurance premiums.

Village Manager Jessica Frances said the 20-percent employee contribution to health insurance premiums mirrors the amount the village’s non-union employees contribute, a policy that went into effect Jan. 1.

“Year one of the contract adjustment is higher than in previous years due in part to inflation and also due to the 5-percent increase in employee contribution for health insurance and the 15-percent increase in employee contribution for dental insurance,” Frances said.

Another change to the language of the contract relates to the employees’ workday, which is Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an unpaid 30-minute lunch and a paid 15-minute break each morning.

While that hasn’t changed, the new contract prohibits employees from shifting the eight-hour workday, for example working from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The new contract calls for any employee reporting to work after 7:30 a.m. or leaving before 4 p.m. will need to utilize paid time off unless getting prior approval from the public works director.

Dan Tabb, the village’s public works director, said the change was made to clarify expectations regarding shift scheduling, saying that if employees opt to shift hours it can make it hard to schedule projects.

“It was more from a scheduling standpoint,” Tabb said of the change.

The new contract also adds a 13th paid holiday for union employees, reflecting the village’s adoption earlier this year of Juneteenth (June 19) as a paid holiday for all village employees.

While the hourly pay raises are set, junior employees have the ability to move up the pay scale at a higher and quicker rate, since those general maintenance positions have step raises built into the salary schedule.

For example, a starting maintenance employee in 2022 will be paid $26.49 per hour. But the pay of that employee automatically increases after six months and again after 18 months. In the final year of the new contract, that employee’s hourly pay rate will be at $37.69 per hour, an overall raise of 42 percent.

Senior employees, including the mechanic, forester and foremen will receive base pay raises only during the contract. The mechanic will be paid $36.65 per hour in 2002 and $40.46 per hour in 2026.

The foremen and forester will be paid $37.91 per hour in 2022 and $41.85 per hour in 2026.

Employees also receive pay increases of between 25 cents and 75 cents an hour if they obtain certifications for water operation and applying pesticides/herbicides. Crew leaders are paid an addition $1.20 an hour, and employees are also eligible to receive stipends of between a half percent and 1 percent of their regular pay for obtaining college and advanced degrees.

In addition to the public works department, the village’s police officers also are represented by a union. Their contract also expired at the end of 2021, and the administration and unions leaders are presently in negotiations on a new deal.