MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — A new ruling says the Mattoon Fire Department should get its ambulance service back. They haven’t had it since summer 2018 and have been fighting to bring it back ever since. The Illinois Labor Relations Board has sided with the fire department. That means they think the city should let the department start running the ambulance service again, like they did before July 2018.
“It was done incorrectly, and this ruling obviously shows what the city did was illegal,” said Mattoon Fire Department union president Bart Owen. “The city basically made a decision to unilaterally just take our work away from us, and by statute, we have a right to negotiate that work, which was never done.”
Since July 2018, ambulance services in Mattoon have been private.
“I truly believe it’s the best thing for the city of Mattoon to have this service, and then we serve a dual role. We’re the fire department but we’re also generating revenue that the city, as the city council would state, desperately needs at this time, especially with COVID-19 coming back a little bit.”
Owen says bringing the ambulance service back is the perfect way to bring in more money. He said the city already has the ambulances and equipment they would need to start running. The city has 20 days to let the fire department start the ambulance service again. They also have the option to appeal the labor board’s decision. We haven’t heard back yet about whether or not they will.
The Illinois Labor Relations Board already previously ruled in favor of bringing the fire department staffing back up to 30 people. The department currently has 21 people. That ruling also supports bringing the department back to how it was in July 2018. The city, however, said they are struggling to building the department’s numbers due to a lack of qualified applicants.