Dispatchers strike averted as tentative deal is reached
A possible strike by dispatchers at the Northwest Central Dispatch Center in Arlington Heights was averted early this morning when their union reached a tentative labor deal with the center's board.
BILL ZARS | Staff Photographer
A tentative agreement reached early today between management of the Northwest Central Dispatch System and the union representing dispatchers has averted a strike.
Rick Tracy, a board member of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, said just before 1:30 a.m. Thursday that there would be no strike. According to the union's strike notice, a walkout could have occurred as early as 5 p.m. today.
"We reached agreement on all but seven noneconomic issues," Tracy said. "Management has agreed those will be handled by an arbitrator. There will be no strike."
The tentative agreement must be ratified by both members of the union and the board of the dispatch system, but Tracy said he sees no problems with that. It will be a few weeks before everything is finalized, he said.
In a statement released early this morning, Northwest Central describes the agreement as "a fair proposal that reflects our commitment to our employees and our obligation to provide a vital service at a reasonable cost to taxpayers."
"A strike would have benefited no one, namely the residents we serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week," the statement continues. "We can now resume operations with our sole focus on providing top-quality 9-1-1 service to the residents of the 11 communities we serve."
According to the statement, the issues that remain unresolved include vacation scheduling, voluntary overtime opportunities and performance awards.
Talks with the help of a mediator began around 2 p.m. Wednesday and lasted almost 12 hours. Terms of the contract were not immediately available.
The 67 telecommunicators represented by MAP Chapter 540 have been negotiating for more than two years over their first contract.
Tracy had pledged the union would give management several hours' notice before a walkout took place, so NWCD could get their backup dispatchers in place. The union also said they would not have walked out in the middle of an emergency call.
The union sent what it called a final counterproposal to the board late last Thursday. Management's response Tuesday night prompted Wednesday's long session.
The current starting salary for a dispatcher is $44,745, the median salary is $66,500 and the maximum salary is $70,595, according to figures provided earlier Wednesday by Ken Fritz, Schaumburg's village manager and the chairman of the NWCD board.
Northwest Central Dispatch System handles emergency calls for Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood, plus the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District and the Prospect Heights Police Department.
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