Posts Tagged Lt. Rick Nieves

Carpentersville Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

After working out a deal with the Carpentersville firefighters union, village officials agreed to rescind the layoffs of two full-time firefighters.

In turn, the Carpentersville Professional Firefighters Union, IAFF Local 4790, is dropping all pending grievances amid ongoing contract negotiations, Union President Rick Nieves said.

Layoff notices for the two firefighters went into effect April 22, after which union representatives voiced their intent to take the issue to an arbitrator. Not more than two weeks later, the two parties were able come to an understanding “without a costly legal battle,” Nieves said.

The firefighters will return to work Friday and Saturday. Collective bargaining negotiations continue Thursday.

“We sincerely hope that this will be the first step toward a more harmonious relationship between the union and the village,” Nieves said. “We are hopeful we can get to work and address the concerns that affect our members and the community.”

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Carpentersville Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

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.

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Carpentersville Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from

Among ongoing contract negotiations, two Carpentersville firefighters are expected to be laid off later this month and more personnel cuts might be in the offing in other village departments, officials said.

A spokesman for the union representing the village’s 33 full-time firefighters says the administration is compromising fire safety by reducing staffing below optimum levels, which ultimately could increase overtime costs.

“We have put forth a good-faith effort to reduce overtime costs by agreeing to ?exible scheduling to react to manpower shortages, but sadly the village chose to use it ineffectively,” said Rick Nieves, president of the Carpentersville Professional Fire?ghters Union, IAFF Local 4790. “The swing shift, a concept agreed to by the village and union in 2014, in which ?re?ghters were moved from their normal assigned shift to another shift that is short-staffed, was an attempt to decrease costs during a time of need.”

Village Manager Mark Rooney said the swing shift structure did not result in anticipated cost savings of $75,000 yearly, which the village set as a condition for not laying off firemen. Since 2010, Rooney said, the village has eliminated 33 positions bringing staffing down from 207 to 174 full-time employees through reorganization, layoffs, and not filling positions.

He said the fire department largely has been spared losing only one full-time firefighter during that time. The layoffs are necessary to reduce a projected $800,000 budget deficit this year due to increased labor, health care and pension costs.

Other departments could be facing cuts. In May, the village administration will begin negotiations with the union representing 19 civilian employees.

Officials also are trying to reduce costs through attrition. The village hired a civilian employee as police records supervisor — a position previously filled by a police commander who has left the department. The commander’s salary was roughly $115,000 plus benefits, while the civilian employee will make $80,000 with no benefits, Rooney said.

Last year, officials were projecting a $500,000 deficit, yet closed out the year in the black. If sales tax revenues and state funding come through better than anticipated, that deficit could be much smaller, Rooney said.

Nieves said the village shouldn’t be laying off firefighters when other employees, including Rooney, are getting raises. Rooney last year received a 5.5 percent pay hike raising his salary to roughly $167,000 as of Jan. 1, 2015.

Nieves cited a recent consolidation study, paid for in part by the village, showing a need for having four ?re?ghters in each of the three Carpentersville stations. Station 91, located at 213 Spring St., covering the “Old Town” section of town, often maintains only three ?re?ghters to run an ambulance, an engine, and a truck, he said.

Rooney maintains the cuts will not affect public safety, and any shortfalls will be made up from among nine part-timers. “Essentially, it is a minority of days or nights that we do not have four firefighter/paramedics in each station,” he added.

Both sides return to the negotiating table April 20 in an attempt to stave off layoffs, which take effect April 22, and ink another deal before the current contract expires by month end.

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Carpentersville Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Carpentersville Fire Department Chief John Skillman plans to retire this spring.

Born and raised in Carpentersville, Skillman has worked at the fire department 29 years, serving as deputy fire chief, battalion chief and lieutenant. He was named chief almost exactly a year ago, replacing former Public Safety Director Al Popp.

An external search has begun for Skillman’s replacement, who will be the department’s third leader since longtime Chief John Schuldt retired in 2013.

In addition to the changes at the top, personnel action was recently taken to remove Deputy Chief Kevin Rynders, Rooney said, and the position was “civilianized at this time.”

The circumstances behind Rynders’ departure are not known, and Rooney declined to comment on the personnel matter.

Once a new chief is selected, the village plans to work with that individual to analyze the organizational structure of the department, including the future of the deputy chief position, said Kathy Lamkin, interim director of human resources.

Additionally, Ritter said the village board hopes to cut overtime expenses within the department.

In choosing a new chief, GovHR USA, a recruitment and human resources firm, will screen applicants based on criteria provided by the village and will present officials with 10 to 15 finalists. The salary for the job ranges from $125,000 to $155,000, depending on experience.

Rooney said he’s looking to hire a strong leader with ample experience to implement the village board’s goals and objectives. An ideal candidate would also help to establish a positive atmosphere among the village and the International Association of Firefighters Local 4790, Rooney said.

“We’re really looking for a cultural transformational-type leader who will take some of the last three to four years of acrimony, heal some of those wounds and put that behind us,” he said.

Union President Rick Nieves said firefighters have had a fairly good relationship with Skillman and Rynders. “We had our differences occasionally, but we always did our best to work them out,” he said.

The relationship between the village and the fire union can be contentious, Ritter said, often leaving the fire chief caught in the middle.

Excerpts from the

Members of the Carpentersville International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790 are decrying the March 23 layoffs of two full-time firefighters, set to take effect April 22.

The union had just begun contract negotiations with village officials when they were notified of the layoffs, union President Lt. Rick Nieves said in a news release.

“This is very unfortunate news for our membership,” he said. “We have put forth a good-faith effort to reduce overtime costs by agreeing to flexible scheduling to react to manpower shortages, but sadly the village chose to use it ineffectively. The union does not control overtime that was approved and budgeted for during the fiscal year.”

Carpentersville Village Manager Mark Rooney, who said he had not seen the release from the union, declined comment.

Nieves said that in 2014 negotiations between village officials and union members resulted in an agreement that created 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.

At that time, the village issued a news release stating that if the swing-shift schedule works as expected, no full-time firefighters would be laid off for the duration of the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires in 2016. In turn, the union decided to withdraw a grievance it filed that year which disputed the village’s decision to lay off two full-time firefighters.

Nieves said village officials agreed to the swing-shift concept as an attempt to decrease costs during a time of need.

“The village sent the union notice that they were opting out of the swing shift the same day as the layoff notices were issued,” he said.

This is the second time firefighters have given concessions to address a perceived shortfall, Nieves said in the release.

“But we don’t believe we should shoulder the entire burden. The village has not laid off any other employees and has given raises to other employees this year,” he said.

He said the village has made a practice of delaying the replacement of members due to injuries and retirements, which puts a strain on the already meager overtime budget negotiated in the last contract.

The recent consolidation study paid for in part by the Village of Carpentersville shows a need for increased staffing to four firefighters in each of the three Carpentersville stations, Nieves said.

“We need to work together to start adopting recommendations from a study the village paid for,” he said. “We have always worked to manage any crisis the community has faced, including financial crises as well. With the loss of a deputy chief, administrative assistant and now the fire chief, our membership, many of whom are residents of Carpentersville, feel there is not a financial need to lay off firefighters as Village President Ed Ritter has previously stated. We hope this can come to a good conclusion.”

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Layoffs coming to Carpentersville (update)

The Daily Herald has an article about a delay in laying off fire firefighters in Carpentersville:

Carpentersville has delayed the planned layoffs of two full-time firefighters while union officials discuss cuts they can make to save those jobs, Village Manager J. Mark Rooney said Friday.

“I’m very optimistic that the firefighters union will help us find a solution to avoid the layoffs,” Rooney said. This action comes after the union met with Rooney on Wednesday to discuss the pending layoffs of the firefighters who were originally going to be let go March 28. There are 32 full-time firefighters, and the two at risk of losing their jobs have the least seniority.

Rather than work with a specific dollar amount, the union will instead make cuts from its recent contract and present the proposed savings to Rooney. The village board has final say and will vote on the new fiscal year budget April 1.

The extension gives the union time to consider what cutbacks it can take. Three years ago during contract negotiations, the union agreed to several concessions so the village would not lay off three firefighters. The concessions included reduced holiday pay, no salary increase during the first year of the contract and a reduction in overtime pay.

The union last fall agreed to another employment deal, which is what’s being reviewed.

“We are actively discussing our options with our members,” said Lt. Rick Nieves, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790. “We are happy to see the village extend the timeline.”

Last month, Rooney announced staff cuts of the two firefighters and three other village employees to help plug a projected $429,000 deficit. Rooney said similar negotiations are also afoot with the union that represents the other three employees.

In the aftermath, firefighter Chris Scholl, a Carpentersville resident, publicly questioned whether the village is really in a financial bind and created an online petition to oust Rooney over what he calls his “poor management of village affairs.”

As of Friday afternoon, 114 people had signed the petition. Scholl said most of them have family members working in the village or are firefighters elsewhere.

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Layoffs coming to Carpentersville

The Daily Herald has an article about a budget shortfall in Carpentersville and subsequent layoffs:

Carpentersville officials have announced villagewide layoffs and other cost-cutting measures to help plug a projected $400,000 deficit.

The village intends to lay off two full-time firefighters, a part-time records clerk in the police department, a community service officer and a part-time ambulance billing clerk in the fire department, Village Manager J. Mark Rooney said Thursday.

“At this time, this is all that I foresee,” Rooney said of the layoffs, adding that things could change depending on the state’s financial situation and declining sales tax revenues in the village. Carpentersville officials have not laid anyone off since 2011.

There is a chance the village could hire the two firefighters back, depending on the outcome of a federal grant for four additional firefighters. The village is amending its application by asking for two extra firefighters and money to keep the other two, Rooney said. Moreover, the union that represents the firefighters will fight to keep them employed, said Lt. Rick Nieves, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4790.

In addition to the layoffs, the village will not fill three part-time positions in the finance, IT and fire departments, Rooney said.

Two code enforcement officers in the community development department will be cross trained for two community service officer positions and do both jobs as a hybrid, Public Safety Director Al Popp said.

The two firefighters have eight years of combined service and are the least senior of the 32 in the department, Nieves said. Their last scheduled day is March 28.

The village expects to save between $235,000 and $245,000 with these moves and more money in subsequent years, Rooney said. Declining property values, the economy and increasing costs of union contracts are the reasons Carpentersville finds itself having to cut staff, Rooney said. The pending layoffs in the fire department come almost two months after the village and its full-time firefighters settled a contract dispute that primarily focused on staffing levels at the three stations.

If the union is unsuccessful at retaining those two employees, there would be 30 full-time firefighters and 28 part-timers in Carpentersville. “They claim that there’s a budget shortfall and we’re meeting with them again the seventh (of March) to look at the issues, like how this is going to actually affect the fire department,” Nieves said. “We’re very surprised (about the layoffs) after the recent (contract) issues we’ve had with them. We didn’t see this coming.” Rooney said the union had two chances during negotiations to save the firefighters on the verge of being let go, but instead chose to “protect the lieutenants’ pay and hours over protecting their two junior members.”

Nieves said he thought the language in the contract was already enough to protect the two firefighters.

Rooney said the layoffs will have no impact on the community’s safety, pointing to the current complement of fire personnel, mutual aid and the village’s capacity to use as many part-timers as they see fit.

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