Bolingbrook mayor questions legislators’ motives in passing Minimum Manning Bill

House Bill 5485 makes minimum manning a mandatory subject of bargaining in fire departments

During his state of the village address, Mayor Roger Claar called out area legislators on their votes concerning state-mandated laws affecting the fire department.

However, legislators stand by their position, saying passing the Minimum Manning Bill was a matter of public safety.

Claar said that this past spring, the Illinois House passed the Minimum Manning Bill despite what he relayed as “tremendous 100 percent objection by hundreds of Illinois municipalities.”

House Bill 5485 amends Section 14(i) of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (“Act”) and makes minimum manning a mandatory subject of bargaining in fire departments. This new law will have a major impact on labor negotiations and municipal employment practices in fire departments across the state.

In November, the Illinois Senate passed it, despite continued objections from municipalities.

“They get whatever legislation they want including a role in hiring fire fighters, a role in promoting fire fighters, including how we spend tax money and now we have to negotiate how many firefighters we hire,” said Claar to a room of nearly 700 members of the business community. “How many of you private sector businesses have to negotiate how many employees you have?”

He noted that Sens. Pat McGuire and Jennifer Bertino Tarrant and state Reps. Natalie Manley and Emily McAsey all voted in favor of the legislation. Claar continued to share a slide with the audience listing fire union donations made to the legislators in the following amounts: McGuire, $10,700; Bertino Tarrant, $23,700; Manley, $23,000; McAsey, $4,600; and Gov. Pat Quinn, $500,000.

“I have figured out the secret to the fire fighter’s success and all I, as a mayor, or we as a municipality, literally have to do is give them a dollar more than the fire fighters gave them and maybe legislation will go our way instead. You know, the highest bidder wins,” said Claar.

When told of the exchange, the legislators were insulted by the comments and spoke of the care in which they take in making decisions.

“No dollar big or small would ever make me compromise doing the right thing,” said Manley. “When you look at budgets in this tough financial time, you can’t compromise public safety. The mayor is wrong and he knows this.”

Bertino-Tarrant agrees.

“I am disappointed in the mayor,” she said. “It is inevitable that we may disagree on issues, however, my decision reflected careful research and input from both sides on this legislation.”

McAsey said she always strives to do what is in the best interest of her my district and the state of Illinois.

“I carefully consider each piece of legislation before the House of Representatives and listen to the concerns of state and local elected officials, community organizations and my constituents before deciding how to vote. I supported this bi-partisan piece legislation because it protects our communities and their first responders,” said McAsey.

McGuire echoed the sentiment.

“I do my best to vote on the merits of legislation. This new law clarifies the legislative intent of the original public-safety collective bargaining law,” said McGuire.

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