The Evanston firefighters union says it plans to file unfair labor practice charges against the city.

The union has scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Fireman’s Park at Simpson Street and Maple Avenue to discuss the action.

The Evanston firefighters union says it plans to file unfair labor practice charges against the city.

The union has scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Fireman’s Park at Simpson Street and Maple Avenue to discuss the action.

The union has been upset with City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s decision to layoff three firefighters after the union took its demand for minimum staffing level guarantees to binding arbitration.

The city manager says that agreeing to such staffing guarantees would tie the city’s hands in dealing with its ongoing financial crisis.

An arbitrator last month gave Evanston police officers a new contract with the city that contained a no-layoff provision that applied only to this fiscal year. 

AFSCME, which represents most other city workers reached an agreement the City Council ratified earlier this month without receiving a no-layoff guarantee. 

Both of those contracts contain no pay hike this year and increases of roughly 2.5 percent for next year, several unpaid holidays and an increase in employee-paid health insurance premiums.

Firefighters union President Brian Scott says his union was willing to agree to similar terms — but held out for being able to set minimum staffing levels for the full term of the contract.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Kudos to Wally B. for standing ground against the unions

    Perhaps the Evanston Fire Union should call in their SEIU brethren to help pass out more fliers and stage citywide protests for the city’s audacious layoffs.

    I commend Wally B. for standing up to the bullying tactics from the Evanston Fire Union. Three years into a severe recession and not one Evanston firefighter has lost their job to layoffs. In the same span of time, the state jobless rate grew to 11.2 percent from 5.5 percent.

    Now the Evanston Fire Union members, most of whom do not even live in Evanston, will waste taxpayer’s money by forcing city attorneys to fight the bogus charges of unfair labor practices. 

    The Evanston Fire Union decided to go to arbitration in order to try and dictate the level of fire staff to the city.  Most likely next year the tax revenue collected by the city will be lower or about the same as this year. Businesses are folding or cutting back and real estate sales are declining.

    For the past three years, Evanston has been faced with budget shortfalls and the City Council declined to make hard decisions. This year it’s different because the city can no longer borrow more money and kick the can down the road. Hard decisions must be made now.

    The question on this issue comes down to "Who is going to run Evanston – city officials or the unions."

    I say Wally B. should play hard ball. Close one of the two Central Street Fire Stations and layoff more fire staff. You know it’s gotta happen sooner or later.

    The union pension benefits and outrageous contracts is bankrupting Evanston and Illinois. Property taxes keep going up despite the Recession just to pay for the unions. Enough is enough.

    We need a New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie type to take on the unions.

     

  2. Compromised credibility

    The firefighters’  use of political muscle in Evanston elections eliminates them from using "fairness" as an argument.  They made it all about them and their special interest … and the chickens are coming home to roost.

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