North Riverside trustees voted unanimously last month to approve a new three-year contract with the village’s union police officers and sergeants who are represented by the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council. Union members also unanimously ratified the deal, said Sgt. Christopher Devine, president of the local unit of the union.

Unlike the prior five-year contract, which was approved after just a handful of negotiating sessions in 2016, it took 18 months to hammer out this latest deal, including two negotiating sessions with a federal mediator. The contract is retroactive to May 1, 2021 and expires April 30, 2024.

“It took so long mostly due to navigating everybody’s schedules; however, we did end up meeting twice with a mediator to resolve a few outstanding issues,” said Devine in an email to the Landmark. “Nothing major, those issues mostly centered around wages and insurance benefits.”

Patrol officers receive base pay raises each year of the contract, with 3.25-percent increases in 2021 and 2023 and a 3.5-percent increase in 2022. Sergeants receive a base pay raise in 2022 of 3.5 percent and in 2023 of 3.25 percent.

However, police officers early in their careers will see annual raises greater than the base-pay increases due to step raises contained in the salary schedule. And the new contract also increased the pay differential between patrol officers and sergeants to 12 percent per step.

For example, a patrol officer who started in 2020 at a salary of $61,989 will have seen that salary increase to $74,005 in 2021 – an increase of 19 percent – due to the step raise. In the final year of the contract, that same officer will be paid $94,046, a total increase over the life of the deal of 52 percent.

The step raises are in effect for an officer’s first seven years on the force. Patrol officers get additional step raises upon completion of their 20th and 25th years of service. As of May 1, 2023, the base pay for a newly hired North Riverside patrol officer will be $72,275. The base pay for a patrol officer with 25 years of experience will be $118,133.

Sergeants also receive step raises during their first seven years at that rank. A sergeant making $68,499 in 2020 will be paid $105,331 by the final year of the contract, a total increase of 54 percent.

By the final year of the contract the base pay for a police sergeant with 25 years of experience will be $132,309.

Union members will also pay 1-percent more toward health insurance premiums each year beginning in 2022, when the employee contribution goes up to 16 percent. During the third year the employee contribution will be 17 percent.

Those increases are in line with the administration’s goal of getting all employees to contribute 20 percent toward health insurance premiums.

Union members were not in favor of another change in the contract, which eliminates language mandating the village employ six sergeants.

“Staffing levels rest with the village, so it was not something we could bargain to impasse over to keep it in the new contract, and it had to be removed,” Devine said. “The village indicated when we met that they have no current plans to change sergeant staffing levels at this time, though.”

The contract also includes new language allowing the village to hire experienced officers and start them at a higher pay scale based on their time at another agency. It’s not a true lateral hiring program, Devine said, because those officers will still have to earn seniority benefits, such as paid time off and position on seniority lists.

“The village was interested in this to help attract qualified candidates as there seems to be a lot of police officers moving around from other agencies,” Devine said.

While the departmental policy on use of body cameras is not in the contract itself, both Devine and Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti told the Landmark that both sides had agreed to the language of the policy. Police officers had input on that language, Devine said.

The contract increases education expense reimbursement (for tuition, books and fees) from $1,000 to $1,250 per term per officer. It also increases field officer training pay to one hour of overtime from a flat rate.