Pay raises likely on hold for patrol officers, police supervisors
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org June 2, 2012 2:14AM
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:55AM
JOLIET — Union patrol officers and police supervisors would get no raises for two years under contracts headed to the Joliet City Council for a vote.
The council meets Monday and Tuesday and could vote on the contracts either day.
Mayor Thomas Giarrante said the council is likely to approve the contracts, which also include a 2 percent increase in the third and final year.
Giarrante said the contracts, which cover 2013 through 2015, will help the city steady its financial situation.
“It’s great that they’re going to go two years without raises to help the city get back on its feet,” Giarrante said.
The contracts require no increase in health insurance costs for employees, keeping employee contributions for health care the same as they are now through 2015.
The city administration had sought wage concessions from all union employees this year, but the unions refused to give up the 4 percent pay hikes already in their contracts. Police and other union employees have been getting 4 percent raises for several years under contracts negotiated before the recession prompted a series of cost-cutting measures at city hall.
The contracts coming up for a possible vote on Monday are with the two unions that represent patrol officers and police supervisors. Union representatives could not be reached Friday afternoon for comment.
The police unions have ratified the contract agreements.
“This is going to allow the city to financially catch its breath,” said Councilman John Gerl, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee.
The city, however, could begin hiring more police officers even as it freezes wages in the department. The Public Safety Committee in April gave preliminary approval to a plan to begin hiring officers to replenish ranks that have been thinned out for budget-cutting measures.
While wages have continued to go up for union employees, the number of workers in the city has shrunk under early retirement and buy-out plans offered to reduce the size of the workforce.
The number of police officers is down to 246 from 302 since 2009.
The city is still negotiating with its two firefighter unions and with the union that represents public works crews and clerical workers. Those contracts expire at the end of the year.
The city in the past has negotiated the same wage increases for all of its unions.
The city, however, broke from a past tradition of giving non-union employees the same pay hikes as those negotiated with the unions as it began to tighten its budget after the recession hit. Managers and other non-union employees have had their pay frozen since 2009.