Fire dispatchers laid off in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 12, 2019

 Joseph O’Connor, Michigan Association of Fire Fighters labor relations specialist, speaks at a June township board meeting. He said that no reason was given to him why the layoff deadline was moved from the fall to Aug. 1.

Joseph O’Connor, Michigan Association of Fire Fighters labor relations specialist, speaks at a June township board meeting. He said that no reason was given to him why the layoff deadline was moved from the fall to Aug. 1.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The deadline has come and gone for local dispatchers.

Effective. Aug. 1, 10 part-time Macomb Township fire dispatchers are laid off.

At the July 24 Macomb Township Board of Trustees meeting, Joseph O’Connor, Michigan Association of Fire Fighters labor relations specialist, who represents Macomb Township paid on-call firefighters and dispatchers, said that in June, the union was made aware of the township’s intention to layoff dispatchers sometime in the fall.

“They disrupted the lives of these people who were told they would be laid off in the fall,” O’Connor said Aug. 7. “Then all of a sudden, a few weeks later, they’re told it’s going to be Aug. 1.”

In June, the Board of Trustees approved a three-year contract for fire dispatching services with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office with the understanding that township dispatchers would be laid off.

“The employer created this problem by doing it early,” O’Connor said. “You told them one thing, and then you turn around and do something completely different.”

On July 9, the union met with Macomb Township Fire Chief Robert Phillips on unrelated manners and nothing was mentioned regarding the layoffs, according to O’Connor. Another meeting was held July 19 when Phillips said layoff notices would be effective Aug. 1.

Another meeting was held July 22 with the association’s executive board, O’Connor, and Macomb Township Legal Counsel Tom Esordi, voicing concerns with the layoffs that were pushed from the fall to mid-summer.

O’Connor said Aug. 7 that no reason was given to him why the deadline was moved from the fall to Aug. 1.

Phillips said applications were provided to affected dispatchers July 26.

When asked what the status of postponing the Aug. 1 deadline was, Phillips said nothing was discussed about it.

The $1.6 million contract runs through Dec. 31, 2021, for Macomb Township emergency dispatch services for the Fire Department.

The Macomb County Communications and Technology Center, or COMTEC, has indicated that dispatchers could apply for a dispatcher position with it.

“COMTEC has not said how many open positions they have,” O’Connor said. 

Currently, the Sheriff’s Office provides full-service dispatching for fire departments in  Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Mount Clemens, Harrison Township and Washington Township.

“I don’t know if you could call it an outsource because it’s a layoff taking the jobs they were doing and moving over to Macomb County dispatch,” O’Connor said. “They didn’t outsource it by bringing in a contract company.”

In addition to applying at COMTEC, the combined dispatching force of St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe and Roseville, or SERESA, indicated that it has job openings.

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