Firefighter safety proposal signed into law

mulroe-manning-signedOn Tuesday, the governor signed into law a proposal that clarifies a 2011 court decision regarding bargaining terms for firefighters.

The proposal preserves the right of firefighters to negotiate safe staffing levels as was originally intended when they gave up their right to strike in 1985.

Although the 2011 Appellate Court decision ruled in favor of negotiating for safe staffing in one case, it did not put to rest the issue with respect to other cases across the state.
Since that decision, safe staffing, and whether it should be considered mandatory or permissive, has been litigated at all different levels and has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees.
“There is no doubt that the legislative intent on this matter was for safe staffing to be included as a condition of bargaining for firefighters,” said State Senator John G. Mulroe, the Senate sponsor of the new law. “By settling this issue once and for all, we will reduce litigation costs and save taxpayers money.”

The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act deems that wages, hours and conditions of employment are mandatory subjects of bargaining. There is no more important working condition in the fire protection service than the staffing level necessary to address emergencies in our community.
In an effort to eliminate confusion over the issue, the new law clarifies the Illinois Labor Relations Act by stating that staffing will continue to be a mandatory subject of negotiations for firefighters. The legislation does not increase staffing levels or allow for levels to be inserted into contracts.
“This is an issue of safety, both for our firefighters and the residents who put their trust in these men and women every day,” Mulroe said. “Adequate staffing determines whether they go home at the end of their shift. Without proper levels of staffing they put themselves and citizens at risk.”

Sen. John G. Mulroe


10th District

Years served: 2010 - 2019

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Criminal Law; Executive; Insurance (Vice-Chairperson); Judiciary (Chairperson); Public Health; Subcommittee on Const. Amendments.

Biography: Born July 21, 1959, in Chicago; BBA, accounting, Loyola University; J.D., Loyola University School of Law; member of Chicago and Illinois State Bar associations; full-time attorney; former assistant state's attorney and arbitrator for Cook County; certified public accountant; married (wife, Margaret), four children.

Associated Representative:
Robert Martwick
Michael P. McAuliffe