Update re: Status of Fire Department Privatization
As you are aware, the Village of North Riverside recently filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County affirming our ability to officially terminate our expired contract with Firefighters Union Local 2714 and move forward with the privatization of our fire protection services through PSI, the private company that has provided emergency response services to our community for nearly three decades.
Today, we took an additional step toward privatization by providing notice to the union, its attorney and our firefighters of our intent to terminate both the collective bargaining agreement and the employment of 14 municipal firefighters. Privatization will save the Village more than $700,000 annually and vastly reduce the adverse impact of future pension obligations. Cost savings will result from tighter management of overtime costs and the elimination of future public pension obligations.
This is additionally urgent because we just received a notice from the Illinois State Department of Insurance that within 30 days, we must fulfill all outstanding pension obligations, totaling 5.2 million, or face fines. By 2016, those fines turn to seizure of our sales tax revenues.
It is important to emphasize that all North Riverside firefighters will remain in their current positions until the Court issues its ruling regarding the expired contract. Further, all North Riverside firefighters have been offered full-time employment with PSI at their present base salaries, remaining on the Village’s health insurance plan, receiving earned pension benefits to-date, and being offered the opportunity to participate in a 401K plan with employer contribution.
The safety and health of our residents and businesses will always be our top priority. If some or all of North Riverside’s existing firefighters reject the opportunity to continue their employment through PSI, the company has trained, certified and experienced firefighters who can be put to work immediately in the Village. PSI paramedics are cross-trained as firefighters, receive certifications from the same academies and must meet the same professional standards as current North Riverside firefighters.
We will keep you informed of additional developments and, as always, welcome your comments and questions.
Mayor, Village of North Riverside