Evanston Firefighters Association president Brian Scott says there’s no economic reason for the city’s decision to layoff three union members.

Scott says that the city had proposed a zero percent raise for firefighters, a 10 percent increase in employee payments for health insurance and suspension of six paid holidays.

Evanston Firefighters Association president Brian Scott says there’s no economic reason for the city’s decision to layoff three union members.

Scott says that the city had proposed a zero percent raise for firefighters, a 10 percent increase in employee payments for health insurance and suspension of six paid holidays.

He says the union had been negotiating with the city on those issues and had reached tentative agreements on some of them before the dispute recently went to arbitration.

When he heard about the layoffs announced Wednesday by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, Scott says, he offered to apply all the cutbacks immediately to keep the firefighters on the job, but was turned down by the city manager.

While the contract remains unsettled, the firefighters’ pay rate doesn’t increase, but Bobkiewicz argues an arbitration award favorable to the union could leave the city stuck with higher costs going forward as well as the need to make retroactive payments from the time the old contract expired at the end of February.

Scott says the reduction from 26 to 25 firefighters per shift as a result of the layoffs will likely leave one of the city’s five fire engines unused at its station because three firefighters are needed to run each unit.

He says the department was already understaffed even before the layoffs, and the layoffs will increase response times to fire calls. In addition, he said, it means the city will have wasted the $30,000 it spent to train each of the recently-hired firefighters who’ll be laid off.

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2 Comments

  1. As Rome burns the union prez ignores the elephant in the room

    "There’s no economic reason" to layoff the firefighters says the Evanston fire union president?

    No economic reason? Let me count the ways.

    -11.2 state unemployment rate

    -a $9 million city debt

    -an $8 billion state debt

    -an unsustainable government pension system bankrupting the city and state

    -a severe recession we’re still in

    -property taxes rise as property values plunge

    Naperville and Ann Arbor fire departments have already voluntarily laid off existing firefighters LAST YEAR! The Evanston Fire Union fought for everything and gave very little, compared to other city departments.

    My guess is Wally B. as well as other department heads had enough. I still think Evanston should close down one of the two Central Street Fire stations.

    Ah, that will be a consideration for next year as tax revenues continue to drop.

    The good news for Evanston is when more Republicans get into the state House, Senate and governor’s office you will finally see a much needed movement to reform the current government union pension.

    No more retiring at age 55, and immediately getting 3/4 of your last year’s salary with a 3 percent raise for the rest of your life! 

    Right now Democrats, campaigning to raise income taxes on businesses and individuals, are hoping people won’t notice that they’re in bed with the unions and just BORROWED $3.8 BILLION just to pay off this year’s government union pension debt.

    What about next year? More taxation and eventual bankruptcy if the Dems keep their jobs and the government unions keep their sweetheart pension system. 

    No economic reason? Ha!

  2. Time for Rip Van Winkle to wake up ?

    The fire fighters in Evanston and across the country are extremely important and valuable members of their communities. They keep us safe and are asked to put their lives on the line to protect others. We appreciate those efforts.

    However, there is a limitation on what our community can afford to pay for those services. Times unfortunately have changed, and people’s expectations must also change. Illinois is struggling, Evanstonians are struggling – and many groups have recognized this. Evanston City leadership accepted a 5% pay cut. It’s time for the Fire Department to step up and participate in this "shared sacrifice" that will be required of everyone. I know my taxes are going up, again.

    More people are understanding the intense lobbying efforts exerted by the unions in Springfield and are not happy. We’re all paying for the efforts undertaken by well organized groups that further their interests at the expense of the unorganized majority. The retirement of Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky on May 28th serves as an excellent example. He did a great job as Fire Chief, but i wish he’d continue to work for at least another 9 years. He retired at age 51 with excellent benefits and a retirement salary of about $ 100,000 per year. This salary grows 3% per year given the COLA, so by age 75, taxpayers will be paying him about $ 200,000 per year plus benefits. And it’s guaranteed.  Our community, our state, and our nation cannot continue down this path.

    Many people will be disappointed in this new reality, but if changes don’t get made today, the problems will continue to get worse. Just look at what’s happening in Greece, Spain, France, Italy, England, and Japan. It’s a troubling situation, and one of grave concern for our children and grandchildren.

    It’s time for Rip Van Winkle to wake up and recognize the new reality.

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