Former 911 Dispatchers ‘Blindsided’ By Union Settlement With Village

Oak Lawn trustees approve severance agreement for former dispatchers displaced by privatization.

Oak Lawn trustees approved a settlement with the village’s union emergency dispatchers after meeting in executive session Tuesday night.

Twenty dispatchers lost their jobs after the village board voted in November to outsource the Oak Lawn’s 911 emergency call center to a private firm, Norcomm Public Safety Communications.

The terms of the settlement include $250,000 to be divided among those emergency telecommunicators who were laid off when the village’s 911 call center was transferred over to Norcomm last week.

The village has also agreed to pay insurance benefits for laid-off workers for the next three months, per federal law.

Oak Lawn trustees approved the settlement agreement 5-1, with Tr. Bob Streit (Dist. 3) as the dissenting vote.

“It’s a fair severance agreement,” Village Manager Larry Deetjen said. “”The village will pay the $250,000 in four payments to be spread equally among those [dispatchers] that didn’t secure employment through Norcomm.”

In addition, the village and dispatchers union, Metropolitan Alliance of Police Local 351, agreed to settle all outstandings grievances and disputes, after the union charged that the village had engaged in bad-faith bargaining.

Deetjen announced the tentative settlement offer earlier this month after a nine-hour meeting with village and union attorneys, and a state labor arbitrator.

Deetjen said that 16 dispatchers re-interviewed for their jobs, but only seven were made offers, two of which decided to pursue other options.

Some former dispatchers lambasted village board members during Tuesday's meeting, stating that they were blindsided by the announcement the day after learning that union directors had agreed to a settlement offer.

“We as a collective unit did not agree to the settlement,” former 911 dispatcher Elizabeth McCarthy said. “I’m sure the village manager will try to sell to all of you that some wondrous agreement took place with dispatchers and that everyone is happy and pleased. That’s 100-percent false.”

McCarthy also stated that she was happy to be relieved of the stress and the “bad management” that caused the call center to "unravel."

“I’m disappointed that the village led us to believe that we would be hired by Norcomm,” McCarthy added.

Another former dispatcher, Lori Cypranowski, commented that she has already been hearing complaints from police officers of “many mistakes” being made by some of the new Norcomm dispatchers.

“They’re concerned that police officers’ safety is being compromised,” Cypranowski said. “We just don’t want this to end on a lie and we want you to hear from us because we were pretty much silenced at the end.”

Amy Goldsmith, a dispatcher with 12 years’ experience, said she had reapplied for her job but was notified via email that Norcomm would not be making an offer.

“Three of the five that continue on with Norcomm had less than four years’ experience, two of which I trained,” Goldsmith said.

The village manager said that dispatchers were subjected to written and personality tests, and background checks.

Kathy Hansen, who is continuing on as director the emergency communications center, is responsible for training new dispatchers, but the hiring decisions are entirely up to Norcomm, Deetjen said.

He disagreed with the former dispatchers’ contention of inexperienced "radio room in training" handling 911 calls. 

Combined with three team leaders, who were also allowed to retain their jobs, the director, and transitioned dispatchers, the group averages over 9 years of experience. New hires were being blended in with team leaders and more experienced dispatchers.

Norcomm continues to supplement and interview candidates to bring the department to full staffing at 25.

Deetjen said he has not had any complaints from the police or fire chiefs about compromised safety or mistakes made by trainees.

“If any police officer, firefighter or employee has an issue they know the procedure for filing a complaint and it has not happened,” he said.

john artis January 30, 2014 at 11:27 AM
Who's Andy?
Elizabeth Forsyth January 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM
The Mayor said it's time to move on. She didn't follow that statement with to the next item on the agenda. The only "threat" any of us senior dispatchers may have posed was excelling at our jobs as we have done for the last 20 years. Director Hansen is threatened by us because we all watched her deteriorate this center and spoke up against her flawed management skills. She and the mayor and village manager are the only reasons it failed. Granted she has no leadership or manager experience, but she had a choice to work and make the center better when in fact she failed it and us and most importantly the residents! Oak Lawn Central was a highly regarded and professional center staffed by people that can handle all of the emergencies without incident. Any officer or firemen will back me up on that 100 percent. Her job consisted of making policies about not leaning back in your chair, not putting your purse on the desk, and yet the village is paying a 2 million dollar contract to norcomm plus 500,000 a year to keep her on and her three team leaders. Why is the village keeping them when they have failed and norcomm had their own supervisors? Sounds like another waste of money keeping those that have failed the citizens.
Elizabeth Forsyth January 30, 2014 at 11:44 AM
P- we have complained to our union. My speaking out at the board meeting was done solely for the residents and every supporter that showed up on our behalf in November. Police officers, firemen residents and our families all took the time to show up because they are aware of how vital my job was to theirs. I want all of them to understand that we as a whole DID NOT IN ANYWAY AGREE to this. That's how the village manager mayor and director are selling this to everyone. It's an absolute fallacy.
oak lawn voter January 30, 2014 at 02:07 PM
i surely hope they dont go after our police and fire depts...he may propose volunteer like the community nextdoor or 50 /50 split on ft and pt. its also amazing that when she asks if there is any discussion on an item that unless it is positive it is gaveled . during statement by others trustees Mr Carberry will chime in and say "call a vote' and she says yees lets call a vote. My god let the trustees make thier point at least...they dont want you to hear what they may say. again i imagine not one of us got a call from our trustees to feel how the public felt about the changes that affect you and me
OakLawnGuy January 30, 2014 at 02:37 PM
A fire protection district was discussed several years ago, I just wonder if that's going to rear its ugly head again.
andy skoundrianos January 30, 2014 at 02:43 PM
I was at the meeting She said Moving on to the next agenda item. I know people are upset but the outright lies are getting a little crazy on these posts.
oak lawn voter January 30, 2014 at 02:47 PM
watch it again andy ..she does not say moving on to the next agenda......the timing of her comment was wrong ..she said need to move on..i was at meeting too. surprised you heard any thing with your chuckling and low toned remarks
JB18 January 30, 2014 at 03:33 PM
Pretend I know nothing about Oak Lawn Politics, Heilman or Bury...which that statement is not that far from the truth...Was last election just choose the lesser of two evils or did the voters not really know what they were getting with Bury? Was there not a third party? I'd have to think common sense prevails and Bury is out next election, right?
SouthernGirl January 30, 2014 at 03:41 PM
No, Andy, she did not "move on" to the next agenda item, she called for the next public comment, who was Kayla Lentine's grandfather. The "move it on" comment certainly seemed to be aimed at the discarded 911 dispatchers.
andy skoundrianos January 30, 2014 at 04:19 PM
No sorry thinks look different through biased eyes SG you see what you want to see watch the meeting I was there
andy skoundrianos January 30, 2014 at 04:24 PM
J epley you need help seriously All joking aside look who's talking about stalking!! I know who you are no guesses get over the election your guy lost You don't care about employees you use them as pawns to advance your own sick agenda I don' t need anonymous name like you do coward. But you do need help
Barney January 30, 2014 at 05:22 PM
I have not watched the video of the last meeting. After the ladies from 911 spoke. The public comments were not done. Before the meeting I personally asked Jane Quinlan , who had just brought the sign in sheet up to the stage. If one more family could sign in. Jane ; did the right thing,brought the sign in sheet to the grandfather of a girl killed on Southwest so he could be heard. They were the last sign ins for public comments. If a video makes it look like the mayor was moving on with the agenda it's wrong. It was a derogative and very dismissive statement.
Mark January 30, 2014 at 05:24 PM
Andy, you're getting your shorts in a knot again brother! Sit back, relax, breath in deep, and imagine you are at your happy place which is Wally World!!!
Bob January 30, 2014 at 05:24 PM
So Odelsons letter paid off. He got an Oaklawn contract. So I quess it pays to play.
oak lawn voter January 30, 2014 at 05:53 PM
the answer for all of us is we need a candidate or candidates to run against this board.2010 census had Oak Lawn population at 56690 of which 34122 residents were of voting age. 2013 voters were 10330 . Bury 5532 votes Hiellman 4788 difference 754. We need to vote or endure the consequence.
OakLawnGuy January 30, 2014 at 07:20 PM
Well, there's a point we can all agree on: vote! Heilmann supporters should see that his opponent got about 14% of the registered vote to win, and Bury supporters can observe the 12+% their opponent received. No mandate to feel comfortable, no huge margin to overcome. So vote next time!
andy skoundrianos January 30, 2014 at 07:51 PM
I will and I won't be for Dave that's for sure thank you very much been there done that!!
SouthernGirl January 30, 2014 at 08:41 PM
Wrong again, Andy. I'm not biased against Bury. I was really hoping for change with this new administration but have seen none. The only difference is the players. Several people who were at the meeting agree with me in that the "move it on" was not to the next item on the agenda. You must not be paying good attention. I've watched the TV cast of the meeting on Channel 4, and there is NO WAY what Bury said can be misconstrued. Why can't you just admit that she handled it improperly? No one is perfect.
Pat January 30, 2014 at 08:58 PM
Just wait because I'm sure the FD is next! Norcomm is also owned by Superior Ambulance! Time to stake the for sale signs!
tommy d. January 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM
bingo pat''''''''''''
Elizabeth Forsyth January 30, 2014 at 11:34 PM
Pat is absolutely correct. I wouldn't be surprised if Larry tries to cut the FD and outsource te ambulance service. That would be horrible for the residents, eapecially because this town really does have excellent paramedics!
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) January 30, 2014 at 11:45 PM
I have just filed a freedom of information request for a copy of the settlement agreement, specially pertaining to severance and benefits. If union members, their representatives or their attorney has a copy of the settlement, I'd like to look at it. Please contact me at lorraine.swanson@patch.com.
tommy d. January 30, 2014 at 11:51 PM
hey liz,,next time oh,larry puts his car in a ditch,he actually might need an ambulance--who better than-his ''outsource team to pick him up this time,,,,you or me did that--we would be gone......watch out mechanics as well,,,,there is a bad smell,and its running thru-the vents............
Elizabeth Forsyth January 30, 2014 at 11:56 PM
I haven't seen the "settlement" paperwork Lorraine. I have gotten 3 termination letters and received all the cobra information from the village notifying me that they will cancel my insurance at the end of the month. Since I paid into it already anyways, but they will promptly have it cancelled on the 31st. I thought he was supposed to outline that at last nights board meeting ? Although I wouldn't know since I was told to um move on.....
mot January 31, 2014 at 08:58 AM
Welcome to the new era of unions and micro managing. All for one and one for none on both sides of the fence. And yes need to move and learn from this as a tool of experience.
oak lawn voter January 31, 2014 at 09:07 AM
EF , as a long time manager of union workers I feel terrible for you all. There are other things that these (911) operators lost that also need to be considered not just the Health Benefits, I am sure that you all had life insurance policies that will no longer be in effect, probably a 401K of some kind with an employee % match not to mention the security of emloyment. What really irks me on the administration is that there was no polling of residents (voters) to see what WE wished or even thought. Our tax money. They just follow blindly and dont think. And YES there was only 3 ways to construe Queen Bury's remark, RUDE, INSENSITIVE, and UNPROFESSIONAL.. I wonder if she is as insensitive to her business employees
Elizabeth Forsyth January 31, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Thanks you we all appreciate that. The hardest part is hearing yesterday's colossal mistake by the new dispatch center. Having a possible active shooter at a middle school and they send the entire police force to the wrong school. It's scary. Those extra minutes is the difference between life and death. It just shows what happens when you bring in people who don't know the town or the severity of their mistakes can forever alter the life of someone else.
Larry Murray January 31, 2014 at 09:35 AM
I'm sorry to say I missed this meeting so I can't give my own opinion on how the village president handled the statements given by the dispatchers who were dismissed. I'm lucky enough to be friends with a couple of these dispatchers and several PD officers. I can tell you this. The mindset of the PD (and I am guessing the FD as well) is that no one DARE file a complaint of any problems with Norcomms new dispatchers occur. You are CRAZY to think that Deetjen and Co. will do anything but target the complainer. Deetjen has let employees know that they are expendable, contract or not. He has access to quick and cheap replacements and has the backing of Dr Bury and the majority of the board. Keep that in mind, quick and cheap EMS, fire and police. Oak Lawn has had excellent emergency services, and one third of those services were cut off at the head and thrown out, replaced with the quick and cheap. If anyone thinks that this trend will change is nuts.
oak lawn voter January 31, 2014 at 10:52 AM
Question.....does Deetjen live in Oak Lawn? Is he a registered voter in this Village or does he just maintain an address here. Curious
OakLawnGuy January 31, 2014 at 11:23 AM
He does live here, he may still have a place in FLA as his wife is a member a development board for a Deerfield Beach, FLA subdivision.


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