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updated: 11/6/2013 9:21 AM

Naperville approves '90 percent' of sergeants' contract

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Naperville City Council on Tuesday night approved the majority of a contract with the police sergeants' union, but three remaining issues will not be resolved until an interest arbitration process is complete sometime next spring.

The partial contract approval is unusual, city attorney Margo Ely said, and it represents the first time the city has been involved in interest, or contract, arbitration since 1988.

The issues left to arbitration are terms about two types of stipends for sergeants taking on extra duties and the city's contribution level to accounts set up to pay for health care costs once employees retire.

Ely said the city believes sergeants' compensation is "adequate and arbitration is unnecessary."

Sgt. Steve Schindlbeck, vice president of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police Chapter 363, which represents the city's 25 sergeants, said his union is seeking treatment equal to that of other public safety unions such as those representing police officers and firefighters.

"Going into it, we used the officers' contract as a blueprint for ours," Schindlbeck said, about negotiations to replace the pact that expired April 30, 2012.

Schindlbeck said his union is seeking a stipend for overseeing field training for new recruits because officers who ride along with trainees and compile daily reports already receive such a pay boost.

"Those daily activity reports are reviewed by the sergeant to make sure the recruit is getting the training that they need," Schindlbeck said.

Ely said field training sergeants do not put in the same amount of additional work as officers, so the city declined to provide such a stipend.

Sergeants also are asking for acting pay when they fill in for watch commanders and for the city to increase the amount it puts into accounts for post-retirement health care costs to equal the contributions firefighters receive.

Ely said the arbitrator will side with either the city or the union on each sticking point and cannot create a middle ground.

"We're just down to three simple items," City Manager Doug Krieger said. "We're pleased to be 90 percent there."

Krieger said Tuesday night's 8-1 vote allows the city and the union to implement other agreed-upon terms of the new contract, a three-year deal that lasts until spring 2015.

The contract gives a retroactive 4 percent raise in base pay effective May 1, 2012, freezes sergeants' pay this year and gives a 2 percent raise next year. Sergeants who have held the rank less than four years also will be eligible for step raises of roughly 3 or 4 percent each year of the contract.

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