Nick Salzmann

Nick Salzmann

“I’m a part-time firefighter, paramedic with the village of Carpentersville, and we’ve had a very difficult time trying to dissolve the part-time union chapter.”

“When I started in 2016, there was no option to opt out of the union. We just had to be a member. I remember they asked me to sign a dues card, but I never signed it. Still, they were deducting dues and everything.”

“I really love my job with the village. It’s been a really great experience to see people that I grew up knowing and to be able to respond to their houses or help them with problems. One of the fire stations I work at is actually a couple of blocks away from my mom’s house. So, it makes me feel good knowing if something happened in the next 24 hours, I can go help my mom or show up at least if there was a problem.”

“But one thing that the village has always kind of struggled with is they’ve had a hard time getting the pay for the part-time members competitive with other departments. And our part-time members were some of the lowest-paid firefighters in our area.”

“None of the other part-time departments around us are represented by a union. We would never see our union rep until it’s time to renew a contract. They just deduct money. That doesn’t really help us.”

“The last time we did a contract renegotiation and the union rep came out and tried to talk to us about it, we felt like he wasn’t prepared. He hadn’t read the material. He was just kind of answering everything with, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ And we didn’t really get a competitive contract again.”

“So fast forward through all that stuff to this year and we realized, our current contract expired Dec. 31, 2021, so maybe we’d be better off on our own, just negotiating directly with the village and just being employed directly by the village.”

“Again, this is a union out of Chicago. They’re not firefighters. They don’t know firefighters.”

“Around September, I called the union to tell them we wanted to decertify. The rep over there gave us the wrong information. He said that there was a special process to follow and that he’d take care of it and they wouldn’t fight us if we wanted to leave.”

“Through personal research, I realized we had to file a decertification petition. So I went online, downloaded the form and the guys basically signed a petition saying that we don’t want to be part of a union.”

“We’ve been going back and forth with the union to have that vote to no avail, so we brought in help from National Right To Work to file everything to decertify.”

“In all our time with the union, our members only received minimal raises, and now that we have received a raise, the union filed a complaint with the labor board saying that the village decided to pay us more without negotiating with the union and that this was a bad thing. Then they turned around and asked if we wanted to stay in the union to protect our raise. They also have been dishonest with some of our members in telling them that the union negotiated the raise for us, which is not true.”

“The union’s message to us is we shouldn’t trust the village and that the village would just fire us for no reason at all if not for the union. But, we’re valuable employees and they’ve invested a lot of time and money in training us.”

“I’ve always trusted my employer generally, and if I’m a good worker, why would they get rid of me? Their argument doesn’t make any sense. But it’s the fear they want to instill in us. They recruit based on fear.”

Nick Salzmann
Part-time firefighter, paramedic
Carpentersville, Illinois

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