Joliet workers rally against cuts

May 27, 2009 2:47:31 PM PDT
Firefighters in Joliet are upset about plans to cut jobs and revise union contracts.The Joliet firefighters were joined by workers from other towns as they rallied against the cuts. The group does not want layoffs for city workers.

"We're hoping through negotiations with the collective bargaining units that represent the employees we can minimize the layoffs, but bottom line we're going to have layoffs," said Tom Thanas, Joliet City Manager, who said the city is facing a huge budget deficit.

The plan presented to the Joliet City Council calls for 16 firefighters to be laid off.

"The fire chief has indicated that this would result in at least two, possibly three of our ambulances going out of service off the street. And that would as a result -- result in a 33% loss of our ambulance service," said Ralph Norberg, Joliet Firefighters Union Local 44.

Safety would not be compromised, according to officials, and the cuts are a necessity because of the huge budget crisis of increased expenses and decreased revenue.

"Especially Joliet, which we were living off revenues and especially gaming revenue, which has dropped in the last year and a half," said Thanas.

Council member Tim Brophy said nothing's set in stone. He hopes a better economy and other efforts will ease the layoffs.

"We don't take it lightly, laying off a single person," said Tim Brophy, Joliet City Council Member.

The firefighters union has already made concessions in terms of health benefits, according to Norberg.


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