By Bob Uphues
Brookfield Public Works employees have a new two-year contract after village trustees voted unanimously to approve a deal with Teamsters Local 705 at the June 22 village board meeting.
The ratification of the public works contract follows on the heels of the village board and union police officers agreeing to a new four-year contract in March. While the Teamsters contract is for just two years, officials said the length of the deal was to eliminate the need to renegotiate all of the village union contracts at the same time.
"One thing the village really had an issue with is that all of the union contracts expired all at once this year," said Assistant Village Manager George Issakoo, who was part of the village's negotiating team. "We wanted to do our best to stagger them, so we're not dealing with every single contract at one time."
According to the terms of the new deal, 2.5-percent base pay raises for 2020 are retroactive to Jan. 1. In the second year of the contract, base pay raises will be at least 2 percent, though they could be higher depending on raises given to non-union employees.
Either way, actual pay increases each year will be more in the range of 4 to 5 percent for employees who are working in the first six years of their assigned "range," which is determined by job title, due to step raises built into the salary schedule.
A Maintenance 1 employee just starting out with the department in 2020 will make $54,107. That salary will increase in 2021 to $56,189 – a total increase of about 4.5 percent.
A first-year Maintenance 2 employee will make $62,456 in 2020 and $65,514 in the second year of the deal, for a total increase of 4.9 percent. A first-year foreman will make $75,287 in 2020 and $78,300 in 2021, an increase of 4 percent.
The village sought and got a change in the contract language regarding health insurance coverage, similar to the language approved for the police union deal.
According to the new public works contract, the village has the right to become a member of the North Suburban Employee Benefit Cooperative and replace the health insurance plans presently offered with ones offered by the cooperative.
"That was important for the village to get," Issakoo said.
He said employees, who must pay 15-percent of premiums, and the village will see lower premiums and broader coverages. The move is also expected to save the village money.
Issakoo said he couldn't provide an estimate of just how much money the village expects to save at this time.
"We are still in the process of collecting the data to fully grasp what the actual cost savings are, but they could be significant," he said.
Union employees, meanwhile, were able to get a change in the contract that will shorten employees' unpaid hour-long lunch break (except for mechanics) to 30 minutes, shortening the workday by a half hour.
But the contract also includes new language allowing the director of public works more flexibility in scheduling in order to contain overtime costs, and clarifies language regarding after-hours callbacks, stating that employees will be asked by seniority whether they want to work overtime.
"It starts with the most senior first on the list and then goes in order, so it's clear that people will get a fair shot at it," Issakoo said.