Quinn requires bargaining over firefighter staffing
Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday signed legislation over the objection of suburban mayors that requires firefighting staffing levels to be a part of collective bargaining.
Mayors have worried that leaving a decision in the hands of an arbitrator could lead to unnecessarily bigger firefighting forces and, therefore, more costs for them.
Barrington Mayor Karen Darch says local officials pleaded with Quinn to veto the plan, arguing they can decide whether the issue needs to be bargained.
"We feel that we're in the best position to decide," Darch said.
Quinn disagreed that that's always the case.
"Firefighters work tirelessly to keep our families safe, and we have to make sure they have the support they need," he said. "This law gives firefighters a voice in important safety concerns such as making sure fire departments are adequately staffed."
The new law takes effect immediately.
The state's top firefighters union pushed for the plan, saying it's important to have enough firefighters working at any given time so that they'll be safe.
The Associated Firefighters of Illinois union praised Quinn's move on its website Wednesday.
"This is an issue of safety, both for our firefighters and the residents who put their trust in these men and women every day," state Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat, said in a statement.
Lawmakers approved the proposal in November, sending it to Quinn. Quinn's signature on the legislation Wednesday will be one of his last legislative acts as governor, as Republican Bruce Rauner is set to take over Monday.