MORRIS – After 18 months of negotiations, sergeants at the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department have ratified their first-ever union contract.
Now unionized, the county’s eight police sergeants and two correctional officers will receive 4.5 percent pay raises, but ultimately, the two-year contract will save Grundy County about $70,000 a year, even with the salary increases, Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan said.
“It’s a good deal really for both sides of this,” Grundy County Board Chairman Ron Severson said. Severson, Callahan and County Board members John Almer and David Welter served on the county’s negotiating team.
The contracts were approved, 13-0, with two members absent, during Tuesday’s Grundy County Board meeting.
Grundy County sergeants formed a labor union represented by the Teamsters in November 2012. Before then, the sergeants had always worked without union representation, unlike the county’s deputies, which have had representation for several years.
Per their union contract, Grundy County sheriff’s deputies have a pay scale that allots raises based on their years of service.
In the past, that deputy pay scale was a significant factor when determining the sergeant’s raises each year, which were negotiated directly between the sheriff and sergeants.
To be fair and retain rank separation, the sergeant’s non-union pay and benefits mirrored what deputies received through the union.
“Anybody who ever had rank here was never represented by a union,” Callahan said. “The past practice with previous sheriffs was the deputies would settle their contract, and then the other people with rank would get the same benefits, without being part of the union.”
The deputy’s pay grade was again used as a baseline when negotiating the sergeant’s new salaries.
Callahan said the sergeants will be plugged into the deputy pay scale – based on their seniority – and will receive an additional 4.5 percent raise.
Sergeants are responsible for supervising deputies, so a raise is needed to account for their higher rank, Callahan said.
The sergeants also will receive retroactive pay raises from December 2013 until now. The sergeants contract is set to expire in November 2015.
This will be the sergeants’ first raise since 2012, when they unionized, Callahan said.
“I know that 4.5 percent a big number, but they haven’t had raises for about two years and they’re not getting much retroactive pay,” Callahan said.
Footing the bill for the raises will be easier now that the county will save about $70,000 per year in insurance premiums.
The Teamsters union agreed to absorb the Grundy officers into its insurance trust. Currently, the sergeants are insured through the county’s insurance, which is costly for both the officers and the county.
By going through the union, the sergeants will no longer pay a monthly premium, saving them a significant amount of money, Callahan said.
The county will pay a flat rate of $904 per month for the sergeants’ premiums, which is significantly less than the county previously paid through its insurance trust.
“It’s really, pretty fair for both parties and it will save the county a lot of money,” Callahan said.