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09/05/96 CITY BELVIDERE v. ILLINOIS STATE LABOR

September 5, 1996

THE CITY OF BELVIDERE, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
ILLINOIS STATE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD; MANNY HOFFMAN, ROBERT M. HEALEY, AND ROBERT J. HILLIARD, AS MEMBERS OF THE ILLINOIS LABOR RELATIONS BOARD; AND THE BELVIDERE PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION, LOCAL 1569, IAFF, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Order of the State Labor Relations Board. No. 94--S-Ca--39.

Rehearing Denied October 9, 1996.

The Honorable Justice Doyle delivered the opinion of the court: Inglis and Bowman, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle

JUSTICE DOYLE delivered the opinion of the court:

The City of Belvidere, Illinois (City), appeals from a decision and order of the Illinois State Labor Relations Board (Board) in favor of the Belvidere Professional Firefighters Association, Local 1569, IAFF (Union). The Board decided that the City's refusal to bargain with the Union over the City's decision to contract with a private ambulance company to provide paramedic services in the City was an unfair labor practice because the matter was a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. The Board ordered the City to rescind the contract and engage in collective bargaining with the Union. On appeal, the City contends that the Board erred when it determined that the City's decision was a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.

We allowed, in part, the City's motion to stay the Board's order pending the outcome of this appeal. We stayed the portion of the order requiring the City to rescind the contract with the private ambulance company.

Background

Since January 6, 1992, the Union has been the exclusive bargaining agent for the City's 15 fire fighters. Prior to January 6, 1992, the Belvidere City Employees' Association (BCEA) represented the fire fighters.

Since 1974, one function of the Belvidere fire department (fire department) has been to provide emergency medical services (EMS) to residents of Belvidere. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act (EMS Act) (210 ILCS 50/1 et seq. (West 1994)) governs the provision of EMS in Illinois. Under the EMS Act, the Illinois Department of Public Health (Department) has the authority and responsibility to certify and license individuals to provide EMS. 210 ILCS 5/10 (West 1994).

The EMS Act sets out three levels of licensing for individuals performing EMS. The three licensing levels have different education, training, and testing requirements.

The lowest level of certification is Emergency Medical Technician--Ambulance (EMT--A). 210 ILCS 50/4.12 (West 1994). Effective July 19, 1995, the EMT--A designation was changed to EMT--B (Basic). 210 ILCS Ann. 50/3.50 (Smith-Hurd Supp. 1996). We will continue to use EMT--A because that designation was in effect during the time material to this appeal. An EMT--A may perform basic life support (BLS) services, such as airway management, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, control of shock and bleeding, and splinting of fractures.

An intermediate level of certification is Emergency Medical Technician--Intermediate (EMT--I). 210 ILCS 50/4.15 (West 1994). An EMT--I may perform BLS services and certain advanced life support (ALS) services.

The highest level of certification is Emergency Medical Technician--Paramedic (EMT--P or paramedic). 210 ILCS 50/4.13 (West 1994). An EMT--P may perform ALS services which include all BLS services plus cardiac monitoring, cardiac defibrillation, electrocardiography, administration of antiarrhythmic agents, intravenous therapy, administration of medications, drugs and solutions, use of adjunctive medical devices, trauma care, and other authorized techniques and procedures.

The Department also has the responsibility for licensing and setting standards for the operation of ambulances. The Department licenses ambulances at three levels of service. These levels are: BLS; intermediate life support (ILS); and ALS.

Every ambulance must be staffed with at least two EMTs. An ILS ambulance must be staffed at all times with at least one EMT--I. An ALS ambulance must be staffed at all times with at least one paramedic.

The City purchased its first ambulance and began providing EMS through its fire department in 1974. By 1976, the City required its fire fighters, as a condition of employment, to become certified medical technicians at the EMT--A level. Eventually, through attrition and training, all of the City's fire fighters became EMT--As. In 1980, the City acquired and began operating a second ambulance.

In the late 1980s, several of the City's fire fighters began training as EMT--Is. By January 1, 1990, six fire fighters had received EMT--I certification, and the City began operating one of its ambulances at the ILS level.

Throughout this time period, when the City received a 911 call, the fire department ambulances had dispatch priority. This meant that in response to a 911 call the dispatcher would send a fire department ambulance staffed with two fire fighter/EMTs to the scene. At the discretion of the shift commander on duty, an engine manned by two or three additional fire fighter/EMTs might also be dispatched to the call. Only if the caller specifically requested a private ambulance was a private ambulance dispatched. The City occasionally requested backup assistance from private ambulance companies when, for example, calls came in while the City's ambulances were already in service, or when additional emergency medical personnel were needed. On those occasions, the City's fire fighter/EMTs worked alongside the paramedics from the ambulance companies to provide EMS.

In 1989 or early in 1990, the City required three probationary fire fighters to sign individual agreements that, as a condition of their employment, they would become licensed and certified as either an EMT--I or EMT--P. The BCEA subsequently filed a grievance protesting the imposition of this requirement. The matter was resolved when the City removed the individual agreements from the fire fighters' personnel files. However, the City asserted that it had the right to require new fire fighters to undergo EMT--P training and assume EMT--P assignments.

In 1990, during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, the City and the BCEA discussed proposals for a paramedic program within the fire department. The parties were unable to reach agreement as to such a program, and a program was not implemented.

In 1991, two fire fighters downgraded their certification from EMT--I to EMT--A. This left the fire department with only four EMT--Is. Four EMT--Is was an insufficient number to man the fire department's ILS ambulance around the clock without excessive overtime. Consequently, the City subsequently downgraded the status of its ILS ambulance to the BLS level pending installation of a paramedic program.

On May 13, 1991, the City council's public safety committee created an ad hoc committee to discuss the feasibility of turning over the City's ambulance service to an outside party. The ad hoc committee consisted of the mayor, the fire chief, two city council members, a BCEA representative, and two citizens at large.

The ad hoc committee met periodically from June 26, 1991, through October 8, 1991. The committee gathered information regarding EMS from 32 communities that were comparable in size to Belvidere. The committee also sent a questionnaire to 10 private ambulance companies requesting information regarding the level and scope of services the companies offered and background information.

During this period, the fire department submitted a document to the committee. The document urged the City to provide paramedic services through the fire department and analyzed the projected costs involved.

On October 9, 1991, the ad hoc committee submitted its recommendations to the public safety ...


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