Oak Lawn dispatchers’ union seeks injunction
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org December 3, 2013 10:10PM
Oak Lawn emergency call dispatchers lobby for support Tuesday night before a village board meeting at which their jobs were outsourced to a private company. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 5, 2014 6:37AM
The union representing Oak Lawn emergency dispatchers has asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to seek an injunction aimed at stalling the village’s plan to privatize the service, citing a contract that does not expire until the end of 2014.
In a 4-2 vote last week, the board authorized village manager Larry Deetjen to hire Leyden Township-based Norcomm Public Safety Communications to handle the village’s 911 call services. Ron Cicinelli, the attorney for the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union that represents the dispatchers, said Tuesday that village officials have indicated they hope to have the transition finished by Jan. 22.
“They wanted to know if the union agreed to this,” Cicinelli said. “I told them the union does not agree. It’s bad-faith bargaining.”
The Oak Lawn 911 call center handles police calls for Evergreen Park, Bridgeview and Burbank, and fire departments in Bedford Park and Central Stickney. Many of the dispatchers and their supporters packed the Nov. 26 village board meeting when the vote was cast.
Deetjen said last month that the village is expected to save about $1 million over two years by outsourcing the emergency calls. The 20 dispatchers can apply to Norcomm for their current jobs, and Deetjen said he believes most will be retained, albeit for lower pay.
Deetjen said Tuesday he had not seen anything regarding the proposed injunction.
“An unfair labor practice (charge) is a lawsuit. Let’s call it what it is,” Deetjen said. “They’ve twice filed lawsuits on this and each time the labor relations board has found no merit.”
Cicinelli said he felt “the whole attitude” of the village board left little room for compromise.
Mayor Sandra Bury expressed hope the two sides could hammer out an agreement.
Nevertheless, the union seeks an injunction as soon as possible, Cicinelli said.
“If they want to make a complete transition by January, we don’t have a lot of time,” Cicinelli said. “This will compel (the village) to honor the contract for at least another year. We can’t stop them from wanting to outsource.”
In the filing with the labor relations board, the union details two years of negotiations with the village, which, shortly after a contract was agreed upon in November 2012, told the union the services would be outsourced if the union did not agree to further cuts.
In December 2012, the union agreed to concessions worth about $369,000 to help alleviate the financial crisis, he said. But the village soon sought more concesssions worth about $850,000, a plan that the union membership twice voted down by 28-2 and 29-1 margins.
Union members were not pleased with details in the plan, such as being paid straight time for their 14 holidays each year through 2017; a $2,200 pay cut off their base salary for each of those four years; and waiving the already-negotiated 2.5 percent raise for 2014, with no raises in the following three years, according to the filing with the labor relations board
The filing with the labor relations board also cites the paid administrative leave of dispatcher Lori Gromala, who was escorted from the call center on Nov. 27, the day after the vote.
The action, Cicinelli said, is having “a harsh chilling effect” on union members whom he said fear losing their jobs. Gromala is scheduled to have a hearing wtih Deetjen on Wednesday at the village hall regarding the disciplinary action.