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Chicago Firefighters Union asks judge to halt promotions

The union says 17 department members set to become battalion chiefs scored below 70% on the promotional exam.

Chicago firefighter on the scene of house fire in Belmont Cragin in January 2019.
The Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 filed a motion Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court to stop promotions of 17 members to battalion chief.
Sun-Times file photo

The union representing Chicago firefighters wants a Cook County judge to halt the promotion of more than a dozen department members to battalion chief.

The Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 filed a motion for an injunction in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday that seeks to stop the promotions — set to take effect Dec. 16 — because 17 department members slated for advancement scored below 70% on the promotional exam.

“In order to be promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief, an applicant is required to achieve a passing grade of seventy (70) or better. This requirement is based on the parties’ mutually understood past practice” that has been “articulated” in prior arbitration awards, the union argues.

However, 17 test-takers who scored below 70% on the exam, given in 2016, are set to be promoted next week, according to the union. There are 112 battalion chiefs in the fire department, according to city employment records.

In the past, the battalion chief test score was based on three sections; written and oral parts each accounted for 35% of the score, with the final 30% based on seniority, the union said.

The promotional exam administrator’s scoring method was changed for the 2016 exam, allowing those who scored below 70% to still get promoted — a change that the union says is a violation of the department’s collective bargaining agreement.

“The City is willfully violating the Agreement by promoting applicants to Battalion Chief from a promotional list which ranks applicants improperly,” the union argued. An attorney for the union could not be reached for comment.

Though the union says the promotions are set to take effect Dec. 16, the first hearing on the motion is scheduled for Dec. 17. It’s unclear if the court date would render the motion moot.

Bill McCaffrey, spokesman for the Law Department, said the city plans to “vigorously contest” the union’s claims.

“The city believes that the suit is without merit, as is the request for emergency relief,” he said in an email.

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