Dolton firefighters demand answers about alleged unpaid insurance premiums, missing retirement funds

Evelyn Holmes Image
Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Dolton firefighters demand answers about alleged missing funds
Dolton Fire Department firefighters are seeking answers from Mayor Tiffany Henyard and Village Administrator Keith Freeman about alleged missing funds

DOLTON, Ill. (WLS) -- It is a dire situation for some Dolton firefighters as their union leadership continues to demand transparency from the mayor and her administration about alleged unpaid insurance premiums, missing retirement funds and other financial improprieties.

"Dolton is going to be on the up and up, we just need right people to do the right things for the right reasons," said Dolton IAFF Local 3766 President Adam Farej.

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"There are still members having claims denied. I have three members who have pregnant wives, and their claims are being denied," Farej said.

Farej said the village's union firefighters have not had a cost-of-living raise since 2019 and have been working under their old contract, which expired four years ago.

He said the village has yet to account for what could be thousands of dollars in retirement payments.

The average starting salary for a Dolton firefighter is $48,000 a year.

"We are still missing, to date, nine deposits short, and then there's no rhyme or reason why. There's no accountability," Farej said. "You ask a question, no one can give you an answer."

The union is currently suing Mayor Tiffany Henyard and the village administrator over the alleged missing funds and for threatening retaliation against Farej and the former union president.

The allegations follow yet another contentious meeting Monday night about the village's finances.

"But right now, it's really in the hands of the mayor and the village of administrator to move forward on finding out what's going on and how we can correct this," said Dolton Trustee Kiana Belcher. "This is their livelihood. This is their family."

In an emailed statement, Village Administrator Keith Freeman wrote, in part, "The Village of Dolton Administration is committed to resolving Collective Bargaining Concerns with the Dolton Fire Department Union leadership. We are committed and working tirelessly to remedy the challenges that we share as a village to attempt to make the bargaining members whole again."

Many are concerned that if Dolton does not get its financial house in order, not only will some of the village's 15 firefighters leave, but there may be layoffs of other village employees in the future.