Excerpts from the jg-tc.com:

The City pf Mattoon will likely appeal a state panel’s ruling that the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service should be reinstated. The three ambulances have been in storage since the city shuttered its emergency medical service on July 25, 2018, but officials have said that new equipment would be needed before the service could resume.

An Illinois Labor Relations Board State Panel ruled on Aug. 18 that the service should be restored because the city violated firefighters’ collective bargaining agreement by the way it was eliminated.

The city administrator said the ruling hinges on differing interpretations of the Illinois Substitutes Act’s scope and that the city maintains that it did not substitute unqualified contractors for firefighter-paramedics, but instead exercised its right to eliminate the municipal ambulance service and rely instead on the certified paramedics in existing private service in Mattoon.
The case stems from the city council adopting a resolution on July 18, 2017 to eliminate the ambulance service as a cost cutting measure. City officials reported then that this service was too costly and was duplicating the work of private providers. Mattoon Firefighters Association Local 691, which subsequently filed grievances, has maintained that the service provided essential community care and city revenue.

Following rulings in favor of the city and the union on various points, the ambulance dispute reached a new stage with the state panel’s recent ruling.

“The city implemented the change in the firefighters’ working conditions under the parties’ current agreement without bargaining to impasse or submitting the matter to interest arbitration,” the panel wrote. “Because the parties’ collective bargaining agreement requires the parties to provide ambulance services, the cessation of city-operated ambulance services and the resultant transfer of firefighters’ work responding to emergency medical calls changed the existing conditions of employment.”

Firefighters union President Bart Owen said the appeals process can take up to a year. He noted that the union’s civil contempt filing from last year in Coles County Circuit Court is still pending. This filing calls for the city to be held in contempt for not bringing contracted staffing levels back up to 30 firefighters as called for by a Dec. 9, 2019 court ruling.