According to a retired member of the Oak Lawn Professional Firefighters Local 3405, the union has officially rejected an offer of $5.3 million dollars in exchange for the union agreeing to forgo minimum manning language in the union contract currently under negotiation.
The revelation came in a Facebook post on the Oak Lawn Leaf’s Facebook page after the Friday January 12th exclusive story revealed that Mayor Sandra Bury and the Village Board had offered the multi-million dollar payoff to the union members to be split among the current firefighters and paramedics.
“Minimum Manning” has been a controversial sticking point between the union’s membership and Village Manager Larry Deetjen, who has pursued litigation in an attempt to rude the number of employees in the department.
The village had hoped that the payoff would convince union members to drop the minimum manning issue. In addition to that proposal, the village and union have exchanged multiple other demands unrelated to minimum manning.
However, minimum manning has been a constant point of litigation between the village and the union, with the union repeatedly winning lawsuits to enforce the provision.
Some Facebook posters seemed to understand the village’s position with one noting that many suburban fire departments are being asked to do more work with less men. Another said it was actually cheaper to pay overtime than to hire ten more firefighters. However, most of the responses to the story on the Facebook page painted a negative spin on the village’s efforts.
One poster claimed that the village’s efforts were part of a plan to run the firefighters and paramedics “into the ground”.
It is expected that without an agreement on minimum manning, the village and firefighters will once again be litigating the issues from this negotiation despite hiring a new law firm, Odelson and Sterk, to negotiate on its behalf.
Odelson and Sterk were also not immune from criticism on the post even noting that the firm was involved in litigation with the North Riverside firefighters union. That post rightly predicted that the offer of $5.3 million would be turned down:
I’m sure the union is going to turn this down. You don’t just give away or sell out something you have fought so hard to maintain. The village should keep that 5.3 million because their new attorney is gonna take all that and more trying to fight this losing battle, just like he has pillaged the village of north riverside fighting a battle that village was gonna lose since day 1 also.
For now, it appears that while the village had a dream that it could resolve this issue, it won’t be as easy as spending $5.3 million dollars.