Oak Brook four-year firefighters’ contract includes raises of 2.5 to 3%

Chicago Tribune 2 months ago

A new, four-year contract for Oak Brook firefighters includes annual salary increases of 2.5% to 3% and is retroactive to Jan. 1.

The Village Board approved the contract Tuesday, after it was ratified in mid-September by firefighters.

The agreement reduces the required number of full-time fire personnel from 28 to 27, with a stipulation that the village may not contract out work performed by bargaining unit members if the number of those members is below 27.

The new deal also calls for seven full-time personnel for each work shift, a change from no mandated staffing minimums per shift.

Salary increases are 2.5% for 2019, 2.75% for 2020 and 2021, and 3% for 2022. Firefighters also were given Martin Luther King Day as an additional paid holiday.

The Village Board approved the new contract by a 5-1 vote, with only Michael Manzo voting against it.

Manzo said his opposition was because he believes the board is giving up management rights with the contract.

“It took two decades to drop the total number of firefighters required from 28 to 27, and now we’re agreeing to a shift requirement for staffing,” he said. “We have great firefighters, but I have a problem with the process. It ties our hands as a board when we agree to minimum staffing requirements in a contract."

Al Koren and Don Adler, members of Oak Brook’s Long-Term Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, both expressed objections for similar reasons.

“This contract eliminates any possibility to make changes to alternative ways of doing things,” said Adler, who also is a former Village Board member. “This village needs to figure out how to provide services at a lower cost.”

Koren said the village needs to have the flexibility to restructure.

“The number of fires is going down, and the number of EMS calls is going up,” Koren said.

The elimination of the one full-time firefighter position is projected to save about $363,000 over the next three years and generate about $344,000 in additional overtime expenses, for a net savings of about $19,000.

The Fire Department also is eliminating two of its contracted paramedic positions, which is expected to save about $385,000 over the final three years of the new contract.

“Everything in life is give and take,” board member Asif Yusuf said. “We struck a pretty good deal, I think the good outweighs the bad.”

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