Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Carpentersville officials are hitting back at claims made by the firefighters union that the layoffs of two full-time firefighters by the village is illegal.

Members of the Carpentersville International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790 had just begun contract negotiations on March 23 with village officials when they were notified of the layoffs, that took effect April 22, said Union president Lt. Rick Nieves in a press release.

The union immediately filed a grievance, contending the layoffs were illegal under the terms of the current contract with the village, Nieves said. Both village and union officials met April 7 but were unable to come to a resolution.

Carpentersville Village Manager Mark Rooney said that in 2014 the village and union signed a side letter agreeing to the creation of swing shift employees, where firefighters were moved from their regularly assigned shifts to another to fill vacancies created by other employees’ vacations and authorized time off. The agreement also called for the village not to lay off any firefighters during the duration of the contract, as long as the swing shift structure saved $75,000 annually, Rooney said.

“The swing shift was supposed to save money. It did not save it for two years in a row,” he said, adding that instead, overtime costs increased from $103,634 in 2014 to $132,648 in 2015.

“We were willing to grant the Union’s claims that the math would work. It sounded a little aggressive at the time but we were willing to save people’s jobs two years ago but it just hasn’t worked,” he said. “But they signed onto that contract two years ago with the side letter that if they didn’t make the savings they projected with this novel swingshift concept the village would be authorized to layoff the two firefighters with the least seniority. So really we’re back to square one from two years ago regarding the issue of layoffs.”

Nieves acknowledges the side letter of agreement.

“Manager Rooney is saying it didn’t work. Our contention is it did work but only when you have proper staffing levels in the first place,” he said. “The model was designed around 32 firefighters working. Ideally, 33 would have stopped almost all overtime except in extreme circumstances.”

Rooney said the two firefighter layoffs will result in a net savings of about $75,000 the first year and $85,000 the second year, including salary, benefits and pension.

Rooney said the village doesn’t have this type of acrimonious conflict with any of the other five unions.

“You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Why is the (International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790) the only one? If I’ve got such an anti-union animus, why is it only displayed at the firefighters? It’s frustrating to be accused of a multitude of unsubstantiated charges by the Union and demanding my termination,” he said.

Rooney said village officials have to “make the revenues and expenditures balanced for the entire village, not just the fire department.”

But Nieves said he and his fellow union members do not feel the village has a bona fide economic reason to let the firefighters go.

“We feel strongly the villages financial situation is healthy along with the fact that other revenue streams will be coming in very soon,” he said. “It’s disappointing to hear when recently we were told there would be no layoffs since Wal-Mart would likely be moving in town.”

Nieves said he feels the fire department is being singled out.

“We have been through four chiefs in the last five years and as we sit have no deputy, a chief retiring and no administrative assistant,” he said. “This will be the third time we have been threatened with layoffs during or after negotiations.”

Union members believe the two firefighters will get their jobs back through arbitration.

“I’m still hopeful the village will retract the layoffs and avoid the liability from high overtime costs that will come with the staffing reduction and use of part-time guys to backfill,” Nieves said. “We are arguing over less than $20,000. It just doesn’t make sense from our perspective.”

“The village is confident that we acted within our contractual rights at all times, and we look forward to the board’s ruling which will vindicate our decision,” Rooney said.

thanks Dan