Brookfield trustees approved new three-year contracts with their three employee unions on Dec. 29. The contracts try to deal with the problem the police and fire departments are having in finding full- and part-time workers.
However, the trustees didn’t give away the farm, Trustees Mark Ferrara and Dan Suttles said.
“We have good employees,” Ferrara said. “We want to be fair, but at the same time we don’t have the luxury of raising taxes to create more money.”
Ferrara noted the raises awarded in each contract do not even meet the current rate of inflation, which has been around 8 percent.
“We’re having a hard time keeping employees, both part-time and full-time,” Suttles said. “We need to make that gap up so our employees don’t do a mad exodus to another department. But, we had to do it with due diligence to how much money we actually have to spend. We’re stewards of our community’s money. It’s a tough position to be in, because I think we have all great employees in all departments.”
Many employees have gone “above and beyond” their expected duties, Suttles said.
“We can only afford to pay them so much,” he said. “I wish we could pay them more.”
The contracts universally make Juneteenth the 11th paid holiday, and continue the intent started by the trustees in the previous contract to have the employees pay more of their own pension pickups, instead of the township paying it for them.
Other details are listed below.
International Association of Firefighters Local 3443
The fire department will attempt to alleviate its problems attracting and keeping part-time firefighters by hiring an additional full-time firefighter in 2023, with the intent to also hire one each in 2024 and 2025. However, decisions on the second- and third-year hirings will be made after an annual financial review at which labor and management will attend, with the trustees having the final say.
Firefighters will receive 5-percent wage hikes each year of the contract. In 2023, firefighters will make $18.16 an hour and captains $19.98 an hour. The pay rates go to $19.07 and $20.98 in 2024, and $20.02 and $22.02 in 2025.The captains’ pay reflects a 10-percent differential over firefighters, a rate that had been 5 percent in the previous contract.
In addition to their base pay, the firefighters receive $1,750 each because they all have achieved paramedic certification. Firefighters who have obtained at least an associate’s college degree in a fire or EMS-related field or have accumulated 250 hours of training earn an extra $30 a month. These figures are unchanged from the previous pact.
In 2023, the township will pay 8.25 percent of an employee’s pension pickup, and the firefighters will pay 4 percent. In 2024, the figures will be 7.25 percent for the township and 5 percent for the employee; in 2025, 6.25 percent for the township and 6 percent for the employee.
The new contract accelerates the pay steps of new hires. A new hire was paid 70 percent of a full-time firefighter’s salary in years one and two, 80 percent in years three and four, 90 percent in years five and six and 100 percent in year seven. In the new pact, a new hire will make 80 percent of a full-time firefighter’s salary in year one, 85 percent in year two, 90 percent in year three, 95 percent in year four and 100 percent in year five.
Any full-time firefighter who becomes a shift officer because of the absence of the chief or a captain will be paid $1 an hour for the added responsibility instead of the flat $18 specified in the old deal.
The new contract makes new hires eligible for holiday pay at the date of hire instead of after six months of employment.
The new deal eliminates a safety committee and instead creates the position of Health and Safety Officer “to represent all employees in matters pertaining to the health, safety and the well-being of all members regardless of rank.” The officer will meet with the chief as necessary, and is responsible for communicating to employees all messages concerning health and safety.
Other changes include language concerning funeral leave and mileage for use of private vehicles.
The union has six members, and the chief is not a member.
Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association
Full-time patrolmen and senior officers will get raises of 6 percent the first year and 3.5 percent in years two and three. Patrolmen will earn $23.17 an hour in 2023. $23.98 in 2024 and $24.82 in 2025. Senior officers will get $23.67 in year one, $24.49 in year two and $25.34 in year three.
Sergeants get raises of 6.3 percent the first year and 4 percent the next two years. Their pay scale is $25.25 in 2023, $26.37 in 2024 and $27.40 in 2025. There also are pay rates for corporals, but the department does not currently have any.
As with the fire department pact, the police contract accelerates the pay steps for new hires. Instead of starting a new hire at 70 percent of a patrolman’s salary and increasing the rate over six years, the percentage now starts at 80 percent and will go up 5 percent a year over four.
If the assigned detective is not an officer, he or she will be paid at the corporal’s salary after three years of service, and anyone assigned to that position temporarily will earn 45 cents more per hour after working 30 days in the position.
Policemen with less than 20 years of service will get $1,050 a year for maintaining their firearms certification, and $2,100 a year for maintaining firearms and breath-test certifications.
Policemen with more than 20 years of service will be paid $2,350 a year for being on-call, and sergeants will get $2,700.
The policemen will pay more of their employee pension pickup, 4 percent in 2023, 5 percent in 2024 and 6 percent in 2025. The township will pay 9 percent in 2023, 8 percent in 2024 and 7 percent in 2025.
Longevity pay was increased from $400 to $450 after five years of service; $600 to $650 after 10 years; $775 to $850 after 15 years; $925 to $1,050 after 20 years; and $1,125 to $1,250 after 25 years.
The contract unifies the vacation schedule for all employees, eliminating the clauses that new hires have to work longer to move up the scale and can receive no more than 160 hours a year. It also eliminates the signing bonus of $1,000 for senior officers.
The contract makes policemen eligible for overtime for certification activities, on-call status and training, and increases the sick leave accumulation rate from 4.3 hours per pay period to 4.6 hours.
There also are language changes specifying the township’s authority in accrued sick leave and vacation hours in the event of worker’s compensation claims.
Instead of giving policemen uniform allowances, the department will issue new hires uniforms, weapons with ammunition, and $100 for “other needed equipment.” The department also is responsible for replacing any changes in uniform policy, and will issue additional shirts and pants after five and 10 years of service.
The union has 10 members, and the chief is not a member.
Road department workers get 6-percent raises this year, 5 percent in 2024 and 4 percent in 2025. The highway supervisor will be paid $28.98 this year, $30.43 next year and $31.65 in 2025. The foreman/mechanic will earn $24.72, $25.96 and $26.99. The equipment operator’s pay will be $22.22, $22.33 and $24.26. The cemetery groundskeeper will earn $14.65, $15.38 and $16.
The pact reduces the township’s share of the employee pension pickup to 6 percent next year, 5 percent in 2024 and 4 percent in 2025, while an employee will pay 4 percent this year, 5 percent next year and 6 percent in 2025.
The contract increases the amount of accrued compensatory time that can be cashed in from 25 to 50 hours a year; creates a new category of vacation time, 200 hours after 20 years of service; increases the sick leave accumulation rate from 4.3 hours per pay period to 4.6 hours; requires that personal leave be used in segments of not less than 1 hour at a time; and creates a longevity pay level of $1,500 a year for employees with more than 30 years of service.
The department has five employees, and Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg is part of the bargaining unit.