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Judge Won't Speed Up North Riverside's Attempt To Privatize Fire Dept.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An attorney for a suburban firefighters union said they will continue their fight against an attempt by the village of North Riverside to privatize its fire department.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports North Riverside officials have asked a Cook County judge to allow accelerated filings and make a summary judgment in their lawsuit to privatize the village's firefighting operations.

The village has said its contract with its firefighters has expired, and they want to speed up their privatization effort to save $750,000 on pension payments next year.

However, J. Dale Berry, the attorney for North Riverside Firefighters Union Local 2714, said the court has given the union the customary 30 days to respond to the village's lawsuit. The union wants to resolve the dispute through arbitration, and has accused the village of bargaining in bad faith.

"We have made a demand for interest arb [arbitration], and filed that with the board, and that is in process," he said. "We're making a request, and we filed that with the Federal Mediation And Conciliation Service to get an arbitrator to resolve this dispute."

Berry said the contract allowed for arbitration after the contract expired.

"Essentially what the city is trying to do here – it's very, actually very radical, unprecedented type of claim – they're essentially trying to terminate a contract that isn't terminated by its own terms, and they're trying to bypass the dispute resolution process," he said.

The village has denied bad-faith bargaining, and argued it cannot afford to pay the pensions of the unionized firefighters, and has offered them jobs with the private company that would run firefighting operations.

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