Quinn gets controversial firefighter staffing plan

  • Glenview Fire Chief Wayne Globerger tells reporters at the Illinois Capitol that firefighter staffing levels shouldn't be subject to union talks.

      Glenview Fire Chief Wayne Globerger tells reporters at the Illinois Capitol that firefighter staffing levels shouldn't be subject to union talks. Mike Riopell | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/20/2014 6:41 PM

Legislation largely decried by suburban mayors is heading to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk after lawmakers voted Thursday to require firefighter staffing to be a part of bargaining talks.

Quinn's staff said the governor will review it.

 

The proposal has been controversial because mayors argue they'll be faced with higher costs if an arbitrator in bargaining talks says a fire department needs to add people or shifts to meet a minimum staffing requirement.

They say the state shouldn't require that they bargain about staffing levels.

"It's easy to give stuff to the firefighters because the state doesn't have to pay for it," Carpentersville Mayor Ed Ritter told the Daily Herald editorial board Wednesday.

But the state's top firefighters union says it's an issue that has been bargained over in some places for years and that having the right number of firefighters available in an emergency is a matter of safety.

"The safety of our communities should not be at risk simply because municipal leaders want to limit the influence of unions," state Sen. Mike Noland, an Elgin Democrat, said.

The Illinois Senate approved the proposal by a 42-11 vote Thursday, sending it to Quinn. The Illinois House approved it back in April.

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