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A press release issued today by the Evanston Firefighters Association Local 742 (the Union) said the Union received a letter today from the City’s corporation counsel, requesting that the Union refrain from further communications with the media regarding the impasse on their contract negotiations and confirming a meeting date of Aug. 20.
The negotiations of a new collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Union reached an impasse several weeks ago, and the Union requested arbitration. The City laid off three firefighters in order to have sufficient money to cover any potential increase in salaries that might be awarded in the arbitration.
The core issue between the City and the Union appears to be whether the City should be required to bargain with the Union before it changes the number of firefighters employed by the City.
The Aug. 3 letter from Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar and addressed to the Union’s attorney, Dale Berry of Cornfield & Feldman, said that, in light of the Union’s request to schedule a new bargaining session, it “is puzzling and disheartening to see your clients continue to negotiate in public, disregard the proprieties attendant to the bargaining process, and to otherwise send a confusing, mixed message.”
Brian Scott, president of the Union, said in the press release, “While we are perfectly within our rights to participate in these concerted activities, as a gesture of good faith, we will postpone all public activity regarding the staffing cuts in anticipation of our Aug. 20 meeting. This will include canceling a planned informational rally on Aug. 23.”
Mr. Scott also said, “The Evanston firefighters look forward to the Aug. 20 meeting, with the full intent of bargaining in good faith. Local 742 will be placing on the table a totally new and what we consider to be effective and viable options that will meet the City’s economic concerns. If the City is willing to do the same, we are very confident that we will be able to come to a fair and equitable agreement and avoid arbitration.”