Oak Lawn may privatize emergency call center - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Oak Lawn may privatize emergency call center

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OAK LAWN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

In a move that Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said could save the village $1 million over two years, the village board on Tuesday night will consider privatizing its police and fire dispatch service, forcing 20 dispatchers to eventually apply for their current jobs.

Their current contract expires Dec. 31, 2014. Negotiations for a new pact have broken down, the Southtown Star is reporting.

Deetjen is urging village trustees to vote in favor of hiring a private company to handle southwest suburban Oak Lawn's emergency calls. Mayor Sandra Bury supports the plan, and with four of six trustees closely aligned with her, approval is likely.

Current dispatchers would be allowed to apply to Norcomm Public Safety Communications to keep their old jobs, but that would likely be for less money, Deetjen said.

Ronald Cincinelli, the attorney for the Metropolitan Alliance of Police Local 351, which represents the dispatchers, said the possible change is "terrible" for them. The village has made "unrealistic demands" of the union for concessions, and is unwilling to negotiate, he said.

"We attempted to reach out to the village board and mayor (without success)," Cincinelli said.

The union has twice rejected contracts proposed by the village that would run through 2017. The offers included dispatchers getting only straight time for working on holidays and taking pay cuts of $2,200.

Local 351 is asking for a 2.5 percent pay raise during the first year of a new deal and then the average of police, fire and public works department raises in 2015-17.

Deetjen said "the village of Oak Lawn does not negotiate in public," but he added that the union has had ample time to negotiate with the village, noting the two rejected contract offers.

Deetjen said the previous village board directed him a year ago to find ways to save money for the village and the other communities that rely on Oak Lawn's dispatchers for their police and fire calls.

Local 351 filed an unfair labor practices charge with the state labor board this year, but it was dismissed because nothing had taken place yet, he said.. He plans to file another complaint "if they don't honor the existing contract."

Cincinelli accused Deetjen of trying to break the union, which Deetjen denied.

"I'm not against unions. See that photo?" he said, pointing at a bookshelf in his office "That's from when I was in the sheet metal workers' union. That's the John Hancock building. I didn't go up there without a union card. I have the utmost respect (for unions). I love unions with progressive and strong leadership.

"The only way this works is management and labor working together. That's it. My job is to represent the taxpayers and report to the mayor and the board."

The union made concessions in agreeing to its current contract, saving $369,000 for the village, Cincinelli said, and there's no room for more concessions.

Deetjen said he expects that Norcomm will retain the dispatchers.

"I have a strong belief that most of our telecommunicators, they'll be with a solid company in Illinois that provides excellent health care (and) a retirement program, and their wages will be competitive," he said. "There will be wage adjustments, but they will be competitive with other dispatch centers."

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