Chicago Fire 911 dispatchers are facing shift changes after years of working on a different schedule. They are now being forced to work fixed shifts, but there are many concerns with these sudden changes. Dispatchers worry about overtime and the possibility of burn out among more workers.
Chicago dispatchers have been using the same shift schedule for decades, according to WLS. Now, they are being switched to a fixed shift schedule that differs dramatically compared to their past. They are no longer allowed to rotate between the three daily shifts and must stick to one.
In the past, Chicago dispatchers worked three different shifts by rotating between them and taking time off once they were done. However, the changes mean that workers are now stuck in a particular shift schedule and cannot rotate to another one. Officials state the new schedule gives them more opportunities to assign shifts that need more attention.
Union workers objected to the change and cited multiple reasons for why it was a bad idea. They claimed it would lead to more workers feeling burned out and exhausted. They also pointed out it would affect overtime payments by increasing them, and other cities do not have this type of scheduling policy. Furthermore, there were concerns the fixed shifts would lead to more mistakes, more deaths and more problems.
The city has the ability to make these types of shift changes without the approval of the union, but it has left workers livid. Some of the dispatchers are also worried about how the changes will impact them based on seniority. Since more senior staff members will get to pick their fixed shifts first, they think inexperienced and newer workers will end up with the more difficult shifts.
The city objects to the union’s arguments by stating rotating shifts are actually worse for workers. Officials think that the fixed shifts are better because they leave workers with less stress. The city is asking dispatchers to try the new method before fighting it.
Officials have promised to make changes if there are serious issues after three months of the new schedule. However, there is another issue that is not being addressed by the schedule changes. Dispatchers argue that there is a serious staffing shortage that has been made worse by recent layoffs, and this has not been dealt with by officials. The focus on the new schedule has completely taken over.