Privatized 911 Center Contract Likely Headed Toward Litigious Mess

Village appears headed toward legal battle with another public employee union after 911 dispatchers file preliminary injunction to stop Norcomm deal.

Mayor Sandra Bury said that the village is still waiting to be served on charges of unfair labor practices in the wake of the village board’s decision to outsource Oak Lawn’s emergency communications center to a private company last month.

An injunction was filed by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police Local 351 charging that village officials engaged in bad faith bargaining and breach of contract.

Oak Lawn trustees voted 4-2 on Nov. 26 to outsource 20 union dispatchers but retain the emergency communication center’s managers, including department director Kathy Hansen.

In seeking a preliminary injunction, the union’s attorney, Ronald Cicinelli, maintains that the village asked for more concessions from the union 38 days after the current contract was finalized in November 2012.

The union charges that during bargaining sessions, the village did not reveal that it had hired a consultant to evaluate the 911 center, and hid it growing financial crisis from union representatives during bargaining sessions.

Named as “individuals involved” in the unfair labor practice charge are the Oak Lawn mayor and trustees.

The injunction seeks to temporarily stop the village from transitioning the 911 emergency center to a private vendor.

The 911 dispatchers’ current contract is not to due to expire until Dec. 31, 2014.

Within days after the injunction was filed with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, the village has inked a contract with Norcomm Public Safety Communications, a privatized emergency call center based in Leyden Township.

The emergency communications center is expected to transition over to Norcomm by mid-January. The ousted 911 dispatchers can apply for their old jobs, but not without taking steep salary cuts, the union maintains.

In the injunction, Cicinelli cited an email that Hansen sent to the village’s 911 dispatchers the day before the village board’s Nov. 26 vote, explaining the application and transition processes.

“The Village is clearly not within its legal rights to repudiate the existing CBA simply because it voted to ‘outsource’ its 911 communication center services,” the complaint reads.

The union further contends that the village has since intimidated and harassed the 911 dispatchers. The morning before Thanksgiving, 911 dispatcher Lori Gromala was placed on paid administrative leave presumably for talking to members of the news media.

The veteran dispatcher was escorted out of the building by Hansen and the police chief following a “brief conversation” with her boss. The village has launched a disciplinary probe claiming that Gromala engaged in “behavior disrupting the Call Center operations during her shift."

Gromala’s removal has had a “chilling effect” on the 911 dispatchers, the

Cicinelli maintains in the union’s complaint that Gromala’s removal has had a “chilling effect” on the dispatchers who are in “fear of losing their jobs should they invoke any constitutionally protected rights (free speech) and/or any labor rights afforded to them under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the [collective bargaining agreement].”

The legal battle taking shape with the dispatchers’ union could potentially run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs -- on the taxpayers’ dime.

Based on the legal costs the village has racked up fighting the village firefighters’ union which has successfully fought to preserve its daily minimum staffing level at 22, such legal costs could far outweigh any cost saving benefits privatizing the 911 emergency center.

Should the union prevail, the village could also be out for damages and/or back pay to the aggrieved dispatchers.

Bury said “the village still hasn’t been served” with any official notice of the union’s action or a future hearing date before the state’s labor relations board.  

“The press knows but we don’t,” the mayor said. “Service by media is not service under the labor relations act.”

OakLawnGuy December 10, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Good thing the Village hired the law firm that's much more qualified to deal with this litigation than the old one, and at a savings! They did that, right?........................right?
Oak Lawn Gal December 10, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Thank you Mayor Bury and Larry Deetjen for wasting even more taxpayer money in more litigation. Unbelievably stupid.
Mark December 10, 2013 at 09:05 AM
What really bothers me about this mess is that the village can spend 2.5 million dollars for a pancake house on 111th street so they can complete their master plan that according to them will make mega bucks for the village (that's a joke). But the poor dispatchers who have been loyal and hardworking over the years get screwed and have to make a lesser wage because the village said they don't have the money and we found a cheaper alternative. Being loyal and hard working is getting to be a waste of time because if employers can find a way to toss you on the street to save a buck, they will. They expect loyalty, but they don't give loyalty back.
MP December 10, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Why are the managers, who likely caused the "financial crisis" in the first place, being "retained?" Shouldn't they be the first ones to go?
Mark December 10, 2013 at 09:23 AM
I thought I would never say this, but I think the whole crew needs to go and starting from the top. Maybe they can be put on the SS Minnow for a 3 hour tour and wind up at a unchartered island in the south pacific.
ABR December 10, 2013 at 09:45 AM
Every person that does not like the way the village is doing business better remember this on election day. The money they are wasting is beyond comprehension.
barbspangler December 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM
I can't believe that these shenanigans can continue with this new administration. This should have never happened to the 911 operators. Now the village will be more in debt because when the union wins, the taxpayers pay. What can we do to get rid of these trolls running Oak Lawn? This village isn't what it used to be. The new administration is more crooked than Chicago's former Mayor.
EOMessage December 10, 2013 at 11:13 AM
where is Mayor Bury's mouthpiece Andy Skondrianous? He can say who cares because the dispatchers don't live in Oak Lawn so weve already outsourced them no difference right Andy? Andy?
Luther December 10, 2013 at 11:14 AM
That extra $9000,000 in Detjeens' office budget must be there to cover the lawyers. Mikeys' buddies don't work for free you know.
anthony December 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM
If its any consolation this is the FIRST of many battles all over the state... In my opinion this is a 10 year plan that some hope will become a blueprint as a way to combat unions ..wonder who was the architect .. I suspect both sides already have a favored judge list...
KH December 10, 2013 at 11:23 AM
and if you read other local papers - Deetjen is passing a budget tonight that gives him more money to spend. HUH!?!? Of course he will need it with the law suits by the union and the dispatcher that was escorted out of the building like a common criminal. wasteful wasteful wasteful - I think I will move to Orland Park - they are giving property tax rebates to their taxpayers
EOMessage December 10, 2013 at 11:33 AM
the Village lied about savings for firing Chad Weiler. The new board eliminated the Economic Development Department, I read the new the budget will spend about $25,000 more in the new budget via contractual consultant services for Chad's old job. We all know Steve Radice will be raking in the cash for a do nothing economic development job which he isn't qualified to do. All while the union employees get screwed.
Lori C December 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM
“The press knows but we don’t,” the mayor said. “Service by media is not service under the labor relations act.” Such a great quote by the mayor.....but didn't the dispatchers find out about the projected deadline of Jan.22 from the newspaper and not by their director? And they also found out the contract was SIGNED WITH NORCOMM from the newspapers, South town and Tribune, statement coming from Norcomm reps..??? So how can she say that with a straight face. The village of Oak Lawn messed up here big time, once again!! Hope those 2.5 million dollar pancakes are tasting good Lar!!!
andy skoundrianos December 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Hey Eom can you at least spell my name right ,I know you are so obsessed with my life I used to be Streit's mouthpiece right? you sure liked me then, I guess I stepped up in class if I'm Mayor Bury's mouthpiece now. To make fun of this sad situation involving peoples lives is classless, there are no winners in this period. One more point, Steve Radice is a good man, if what you said is true, then Mr. Weiler had a do-nothing job and he was certainly not qualified for that job as well. You better get ready for that fake "annual " food and toy drive to sucker 3rd district residents into helping your guy get volunteers since everyone has left him. Can't wait for your insightful response Mr. Hinsdale
OakLawnGuy December 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM
What gets me about this whole story is how, yet again, Village Hall fails to do due diligence. This goes back years and years, Mr Deetjen can only claim the last 7. Someone should have said or written, "If we do A, there's the possibility B will happen." If they lop off the dispatchers, the union could sue. Or, someone did that, and Mr Deetjen or some other collection of Village officials thought, yeah, that could happen. Go ahead, I dare them to sue. The latter could be more likely to have happened.
Rambo December 10, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Lets face it folks.... Deetjen runs the show - his mindless actions are costing Oak Lawn millions of dollars. He is a bully in every sense of the word - read this and tell me these traits don't apply... WAKE UP OAK LAWN... this guy is trouble... Studies of adult bullying provide converging evidence that bullies tend to have certain personality traits in common, including authoritarianism, a strong need for control and a desire to dominate. Other research has suggested a small but consistent relationship between bullying and narcissistic personality disorder, which is characterized by a perception of oneself as a special, elite person deserving VIP treatment, a lack of empathy toward others and a tendency to be exploitative. Bullies may possess additional troublesome characteristics found in other personality disorders including superficial charm, insincerity, a propensity to manipulate, rigidity, stubbornness, dictatorialness, and obsessive-compulsive leanings
PAT FETTA December 10, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Hey everybody, All of you have such valid comments and I agree with you guys. I have made so many comments on behalf of these dispatchers I thought I would lose my mind at some point. I can not even begin to know how these dispathchers must feel. I wish them the best of luck with these proceedings. As far s Mr. Deetjen goes, does he have nothing better to do than criticize Andy for his grammar. The fact is Andy made some great points and Mr. Deetjen had to respond with a dig. I see this is the type of people running Oak Lawn. Again, there will be another election and we didn't have a vote in this outsourcing disaster, however our vote will matter at election time.
andy skoundrianos December 10, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Ms. Fetta I think your eating too much Mistletoe or a failed attempt at sarcasm. Have a great one!!
Luther December 10, 2013 at 05:01 PM
So, let me see if I understand everything. According to the mayor and most of the trustees, if you order a pair of glasses or order food from a pub, which technicaly is a contract, you can refuse to accept and pay for them. Just tell them you got a better deal somewhere else.
Luther December 10, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Anyone else notice that there a lot of fake things in andys' life?
Charlene December 10, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Word has it that at tonight's meeting they are going to vote on getting rid of all our crossing guards and outsourcing those jobs! Those part time jobs have been filled for years generally by retired senior citizens from Oak Lawn who took the jobs in order to be able to pay for prescription meds and other necessities needed because they are all on fixed incomes! But as I have heard, Bury and her cohorts are now going after our senior citizens! Seriously....someone tell me, what can I do to either get this group impeached ASAP or have a recall! If anyone can direct me, I will be more than happy to get the ball rolling. I am sick to death over this entire village boards action and how they treat people. This is a place I have called home for 50+ years and it is disgusting.
JC December 10, 2013 at 08:30 PM
I am hopeful that the village attorneys fully researched the facts and case law before deciding to do this now. Labor law is very complex and these non-attorneys' opinions mean nothing to me as an attorney. Remember, though, the KMart fiasco. All the fees and they voluntarily closed anyway. Also, the twisted fire department actions that should have been settled immediately. Join the 21st century, heroes. My point here is that common sense facts must also be looked at: cost/benefit analysis. God help us all-politicians have their own vested interests as do the unions. What about the rest of us?
andy skoundrianos December 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Charlene that didn't happen tonight another ruse by Bob Streit to get people to come to the meeting never was going to happen IT IS NOT in the 2014 budget that was passed tonight
Mark December 10, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Well if they are going to outsource the crossing guards, maybe they can outsource the police department with the guardian angels and the fire department with the bucket brigade. Next they can have the home owners shovel their own street after a snow fall and use candles instead of street lights. This is a clear cut example of a town driven into the ground by politicians who have their own agenda and politicians who don't have a clue on what they are doing.
andy skoundrianos December 10, 2013 at 11:28 PM
They did not outsource any crossing guards period. I know this FACT gets in the way of your diatribe, but please try to get it right. I understand you don't like these politicians well , maybe you like the ones from districts 3 and 5 because they solve budget problems by burying their heads in the sand and keep kicking the can down the road
Bob December 11, 2013 at 12:25 AM
The problem lies with The mayor and districts 1-6.I work nites so i will read tomorrow how much got cut and how much more I will have to pay in fees.
Oak Lawn Gal December 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM
Labor law may be very complex but the signed contract is the key document here. They finalized the 911 dispatchers' contract in Nov '13. It runs through Dec '14. Then the village decides to outsource those positions and signed with Norcomm. Doesn't make sense. You can't say "Yeah we signed the contract but we have to save money now so we're going to break the contract." There was nothing about the dispatchers doing anything to invalidate the contract after November. Either Deetjen was truly inept or he expected the dispatchers to roll over and take the carrot of possible jobs with Norcomm. Contracts are usually tightly written and can contain penalty clauses. It's just baffling. I would love to see a copy of the signed November contract.
EOMessage December 13, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Gadfly Andy how good of a man is Steve Radice now steeling our tax dollars? The good ones always end up in prison dont they little Andy?
andy skoundrianos December 13, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Your guy would know EOM/ Hinsdale Why do Streit's speeches sound exactly like all your rants here on Patch?? Coincidence??


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