Riverside Police station (File)

Following negotiations lasting a little more than seven months, the village of Riverside and the union representing police patrol officers and sergeants inked a new three-year contract that includes union members getting base pay raises of 13.25 percent over the life of the deal. The new salary schedule also contains two additional steps raises for both patrol officers and sergeants, one additional paid holiday and one more paid personal day per year.

In exchange, Riverside police officers represented by Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council/Lodge 39 will contribute 20 percent of their health and dental insurance premiums, up from 15 and 5 percent respectively.

The contract was approved by the Riverside Board of Trustees as part of its consent agenda at the Aug. 18 meeting. The deal is retroactive to Jan. 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2024.

According to the terms of the contract, union members get a 4.25 percent base pay raise in the first year of the contract and 3-percent base pay raises in the remaining two. However, the salary schedule contains additional “step” raises when an officer hits years two, five and seven of employment, boosting wages during that early part of a career.

For example, a first-year officer making the minimum salary of $38.32 per hour in 2022 will get a step raise in addition to a base pay raise in 2023, up to $42.92 per hour. That’s a total increase of 12 percent for that year.

This is also the first time the salary shows compensation as an hourly rate. Past contracts listed compensation in the form of an annual salary. The hourly rate was based on an employee working 2,080 hours in a year.

“Police have always been hourly employees; it’s never been a salary position,” said Riverside’s finance director, Karin Johns. “We never want to have any disputes on how we’re determining that salary.”

For the first time, the salary schedule also includes step raises for patrol officers and sergeants after their 20th and 25th years of employment. The raises in those years are a flat $750, which will be added to calculate the base pay raise. The maximum salary for a patrol officer by the end of the contract will be $54.65 per hour, according to the salary schedule.

A first-year sergeant in 2022 will be paid $56.93 per hour, while a sergeant with 25-plus years of experience in 2024 will be making $64.91 per year.

“It’s similar to what we’re seeing with longevity bonuses in other communities,” said Johns about the new step increases for more experienced officers. “We want to keep our employees as long as we can.”

The addition of a third personal day was also the result of comparing benefits other communities offer, said Johns. In recent years, many municipalities, including Riverside, have adopted policies allowing police officers to transfer into their ranks from another community. Making sure benefits are on par with other towns may help keep experienced officers on board or attract new ones to fill vacancies.

The additional paid holiday in the contract was for Juneteenth, a holiday adopted by the village board as a paid day off for all village employees, beginning in 2022.