Excerpts from Mywebtimes.com:

Earlier this year, the Streator Fire Department enacted a new policy requiring firefighters to respond to most medical emergencies, but the firefighters’ union is filing a complaint on the policy, saying it is a mandatory subject of negotiations. In March, it filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, which has yet to act.

The firefighters, represented by the International Association of Firefighters, allege the city committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain in good faith over the change in policy, and the union asked the labor board to order the city to bargain in good faith.

In January, the city required all firefighters take classes to become certified first responders as part of their yearly training, according to the complaint filed March 21. On March 1, the city unilaterally required firefighters to begin first responder care for life-threatening emergencies, the complaint said.

The next day, the union sent a letter to City Manager Scot Wrighton demanding the city bargain over the change. Wrighton declined.

The policy change happened after Springfield-based HSHS closed St. Mary’s Hospital on Jan. 4 and immediately sold what was left to Peoria-based OSF, which has hospitals in Ottawa and Pontiac.

Under the new policy, the fire department will be dispatched to the three levels of medical emergencies prioritized as the most severe, and they will be sent to other calls when needed.

In his March 14 reply, Wrighton said the city entered a cooperative arrangement with Advanced Medical Transport, Streator’s private ambulance service, to provide union members first responder training to mitigate the impact of changes in ambulance and emergency room services now occurring in the community.

During a labor-management meeting, the union acknowledged it could not quantitatively document any impact that would require bargaining. Everyone involved agreed firefighters could be affected if they were exposed to certain blood-borne pathogens and risks of infection while responding to medical emergencies. As a result, Wrighton said, the city agreed to pay for all necessary vaccinations.

Under the state Public Labor Relations Act, providing first responder training amounts to an enhancement of the standards of service, which management is allowed to do, Wrighton said.

thanks Dan

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