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posted: 9/19/2013 6:01 PM

Part-time firefighters, Carpentersville, reach deal

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Carpentersville officials have ratified a contract extension with its 32 part-time fighters, who, in the name of job security, approached the village several years before their previous contract expired, officials said.

The part-timers were seeking stability after the full-time firefighters, in the midst of their own contract negotiations with Carpentersville, demanded that the village fire the part timers and replace them with 13 full-time firefighters, Village Manager J. Mark Rooney said.

The full timers were invoking the Illinois Firefighters SubstitutionAct, which forbids the substitution of full-time firefighters with non-sworn personnel, said Nick Carone, union representative from SEIU Local 73. The union represents Carpentersville's part-time firefighters.

The irony is Carpentersville's fire department started out as one with part-time firefighters only, he said.

Hiring 13 more full timers would have cost the village an additional $1.3 million in salary and benefits, a figure that did not include raises, Rooney said.

"And that's why they decided to back off," Rooney quipped.

Rick Nieves, president of IAFF Carpentersville Local 4790, which represents the 32 full-time firefighters, declined to comment, citing ongoing contract negotiations with the village.

The last contract for the part-time firefighters was set to expire during the 2015-16 fiscal year, Rooney said. The contract extension, which the board ratified last week, is effective immediately and expires April 30, 2018.

Its raises don't kick in until Jan. 1, 2014, Carone said.

Under the agreement, part timers would not receive a pay increase until they score 70 or higher on an annual evaluation that measures how up to date they are on current procedures.

The resulting raises would be 2 percent the second year of the contract, a raise of 35 cents the third year of the contract, a 40 cent raise the fourth year, then a 1.25 percent raise in the fifth and sixth years, with the option to renegotiate, pending sales tax revenue from Walmart, Carone said.

So a part-timer firefighter with less than a year of experience making $13.87 an hour would make $14.15 an hour the second year, $14.50 an hour the third year, $14.90 an hour the fourth year, $15.08 an hour the fifth year and $15.27 an hour the final year.

"We've got a good group," Rooney said. "We want to be competitive with making sure we don't lose our part-time firemen to other communities because they pay $4 an hour more."

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