By Bob Uphues
North Riverside village trustees voted unanimously on Nov. 18 to ratify a settlement and release agreement with a firefighter who had filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the village in 2018 after he was fired from the job.
In October, the Illinois Labor Relations Board ordered the village to reinstate Robert Gill, who was hired in early 2018 and then suffered a severe back injury while working out at the firehouse that year.
Shortly after Gill and two other firefighters were hired in January 2018, North Riverside Firefighters Union Local 2714 filed an unfair labor practice complaint, demanding that the village of North Riverside offer insurance benefits per the most recent union contract, which had expired in 2014.
Gill, who was still in the probationary period, spent months rehabilitating the injury. Prior to the end of that probationary period, Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. fired Gill, and reportedly made a statement that appeared to link the firing with the union's insurance complaint.
As part of its ruling, the Illinois Labor Relations Board ordered the village to reinstate Gill as a firefighter and "make him whole" for any lost earnings.
The agreement, signed by Gill and approved by the village board on Oct. 18, served to separate Gill from his employment with the village and pay him for lost wages, with interest.
According to the terms of the agreement, the village will pay Gill $43,000 in exchange for Gill not making any further claims against North Riverside.
Gill has recovered from his injury and reportedly recently was hired as a firefighter by the Tri-State Fire Protection District, which is headquartered in Darien and served that village in addition to Burr Ridge, Willowbrook, Willow Springs and unincorporated DuPage County.
The labor board's order in October also ordered the village to offer the two other new firefighters insurance benefits per the most recent union contract. The village administration and the firefighters' union are still trying to hammer out a new contract, more than five years after the most recent one expired.
– Bob Uphues