Suburban 911 dispatchers threaten to strike

October 5, 2011 (ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.)

The Northwest Central Dispatch System serves a dozen agencies in 11 northwest suburbs. Union employees have authorized a strike starting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The dispatchers, who are part of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police union, work with police and fire departments, serving communities that stretch from Streamwood and Schaumburg to Buffalo Grove and Prospect Heights.

If the workers walk out, Northwest officials say there is a contingency plan in place. All calls will be transferred to Cook County dispatchers who will transfer calls to local communities. That could last, at the most, 45 minutes until managers and supervisors take over and answer the calls.

Every community, including Schaumburg, is ready to take calls. In fact, Schaumburg has the 911 technology to jump in, if necessary.

"We will actually in Schaumburg be utilizing our facility to answer 911 calls," said Sgt. John Nebl, Schaumburg Police Department.

Schaumburg police expect service to be seamless, whether or not Northwest dispatchers go on strike.

Union representatives say money is not an issue. Scheduling, overtime and management are at the center of the talks, they say. They also say the goal is to settle the contract and not to go on strike.

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