Wednesday, June 30, 2010


  • The union representing Chicago's 911 operators and dispatchers will face the Daley administration this week in another Illinois Labor Relations Board hearing, following claims by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 21 that the City "imposed" concessions that were from an agreement with another union.
  • The other union, however, is part of the same collective bargaining unit.
  • Certain public safety employees -- including crossing guards, aviation security officers, traffic control aids, animal control workers, parking enforcement aids and 911 operators -- fall under the same bargaining unit known as "Unit II," which is represented by both Service Employees International Union Local 73 and IBEW Local 21.
  • Local 21 represents only the phone operators at Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which accounts for about 425 workers, while SEIU represents approximately 2,000 employees in Unit II.
  • Since SEIU dominates the unit in terms of membership, it can be difficult in certain situations for IBEW to muster enough votes and "have our voice heard," said Jerry Rankins, a Local 21 business representative.
  • That problem came into play recently when the City of Chicago negotiated a two-year amendment to the "COUPE Agreement" -– which included some concessions to prevent massive layoffs. Paid holidays, except for Labor Day, were eliminated and overtime payment switched to compensatory time for up to 80 hours for all members of Unit II.
  • IBEW rejected the offer and said it should not have applied to Local 21 members since they were not threatened with any layoffs.
  • The city "knew we had no backbone because we were outnumbered, so basically the COUPE Agreement was shoved down our throats," said one 911 operator who asked to remain anonymous.
  • But David Johnson, chief labor negotiator from Chicago's Law Department, said they look at the total vote count for the unit as a whole -– and SEIU voted to ratify the offer.
  • "We've always combined the votes, and that goes back to the first contract in 1986," he said. "The overwhelming majority of members accepted the deal."
  • According to Rankins, the effects of the agreement are especially substantial for the 911 Center employees since there was a two-year delay with no retro-activity pay -– and the operators in this office are known to work a lot of overtime.
  • Johnson said there are many different ways to look at pieces of the deal, but it also came with a 9.25 percent raise over three and half years.
  • "For a lesser wage increase, we might have done retro," he said.
  • But ultimately, all that mattered was that Unit II -- as a whole -- accepted the offer.
  • Local 21 has also filed a petition to sever from Unit II and create its own bargaining unit, but it was denied by the ILRB. The union is appealing the board's decision to the Illinois Appellate Court.
  • This is potentially worrisome for SEIU because it would offer outside unions the opportunity "to come in and pick them off individually," according to Matt Brandon, Local 73 secretary-treasurer.
  • But John Brosnan, ILRB executive director, said that is why the standard to sever is very high, since it's important "to keep bargaining units stable."
  • By Katie Drews, for ChicagoUnionNews.com
  • Contact: info@chicagounionnews.com
I'm tired of all these give backs. They take our OT pay and cut our hours, then they turn around and refuse to fund our pensions. Someone needs to stand up to the Mayor and his den of alderthieves. Now Daley is talking about a $500 million budget shortfall for next year. He better not ask for more givebacks. We've done more than our share already.


  1. And the latest is a plan to privatize the Crossing Guards.

    The Mayor and his minions are secretly talking to firms on these subjects so the city can avoid all pension payments and healthcare costs.

    Our Unions havs been bought off by the Daley Family!

  2. #u@K the crossing guards. They screw us on the contract every time. They say they won't sign unless all units in the bargaining unit are satisfied. Then what do they do? They sign anyway when they know we aren't ready to sign. To hell with them. They work less than firemen or teachers, call in sick when it rains leaving us with no beatcars on 2nd watch because the police have to cover all their posts. Get rid of them all.