Joliet police officers will not see a pay raise for two years, but they also won't have an increase in their health care premiums until 2021 under a new three-year contract approved Monday by the Joliet City Council.
The 250 officers and supervisors who make up the Fraternal Order of Police's two local unions agreed to the two-year pay freeze in a conract that begins in December 2012 and runs through the end of 2015. In the third year of the pact, officers/supervisors will see a 2 percent raise.
City Manager Tom Thanas, who helped negotiate the deal, acknowledged that the insurance premium was a concession to the union and a calculated risk on the city's part.
In the three years that employees have had to pay insurance premiums -- $50 every two weeks for one person -- the city's been able to contain costs in its self-insured program to a 3 percent increase, Thanas said. A variety of programs, including a $2,600 incentive paid to anyone who opts out of Joliet's insurance plan in favor of a spouse's, have yielded results, he said.
From the city council's perspective, two years of not having to give pay raises to the employees who are among the city's highest paid -- they account for about 30 percent to 35 percent of Joliet's payroll -- offers some budget breathing room as the city continues to deal with a sluggish economy and declining casino income.
"I want to credit these two unions for stepping up and making these concessions they didn't need to make," District 2 Councilman Bob O'Dekirk said.
At-large Councilman Don Fisher agreed. "These are very good numbers for Joliet. I don't think there's a bargaining unit anywhere around that would go for zero, zero (for two years)."
The union also agreed to extend the freeze on a tuition reimbursement benefit, a move that saves somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, Thanas said.
The city is in the process of negotiating new contracts with its four remaining unions, and Thanas said he is hopeful they'll be able to reach similar agreements with them. Three of those four contracts end this year; the firefighters' contract ended in December.