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State

Proposal gives fire unions say in staffing levels

SPRINGFIELD – Mayors and fire chiefs are unhappy with a proposal moving through the Illinois Legislature that would give unions a say in fire department staffing levels.

House lawmakers approved a measure this month that ensures unions and city officials can negotiate how many fire fighters work for a city. A measure sponsored by state Sen. Kwame Raoul awaits consideration in a Senate committee.

Municipal leaders claim that union involvement would lead to tax increases and service cuts.

But fire union officials say that's only a scare tactic. They argue that the legislation only clarifies what's already been in law since 1986.

Pat Devaney is the president of Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois. He says staffing levels have always been negotiable during contract talks.

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The bill is HB5485.

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