Carpentersville firefighters won't lose jobs

Two Carpentersville firefighters originally scheduled to lose their jobs at the end of the month will remain on duty, thanks to an agreement the village inked with the union for the village's full-time firefighters that will save money elsewhere.

Rather than work a typical shift of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, three firefighters will instead fill vacancies created when other firefighters have scheduled time off.

That eliminates the need to pay overtime to firefighters who would have filled in otherwise, and officials estimate the deal will save the village $85,000 in annual overtime costs.

The agreement is effective May 3.

"The jobs are saved and we can move on," Lt. Rick Nieves, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790, said via text message. "Also, I think this shows it was never about overtime for us. It's always been about manpower and being able to respond to the community's needs at the best possible service levels."

The village announced in February that due to an anticipated $400,000 budget shortfall, it was not filling several vacancies and laying off five employees, including two firefighters and three part-time civilian employees, to save up to $245,000.

Village Manager J. Mark Rooney had defended the planned layoffs, saying the contract did not protect the two firefighters with the least seniority, which the union disputed by filing a grievance to contest the layoffs.

The village was going to terminate the two firefighters at the end of March, but Rooney suspended the layoffs until April 30 while the union negotiated ways to save money within its contract.

That resulted in the compromise reached last week.

"The two sides have had differing opinions in the past, but the village and the union are on the same page when it comes to our shared commitment to deliver critical fire, emergency medical and rescue services to our residents," Rooney said in a statement.

If the new scheduling arrangement works out, Rooney said he does not anticipate laying off any full-time firefighters through the expiration of the contract in 2016. The union plans on withdrawing its grievance and Nieves will now lobby the village to restore staffing levels to 13 firefighters on duty, from the current 10 or 11, he said.

"We're hoping they'll reconsider it at some point in the future," Nieves said.

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