Amid layoffs, Chicago 911 workers rack up overtime
By Fran Spielman
Chicago Sun Times
CHICAGO — Chicago has laid off 431 employees to help erase a threatened $300 million year-end shortfall. Those lucky enough to remain on the job have been forced to swallow furlough days and other concessions.
Still, employees at the city's 911 center are raking in the overtime.
At least 13 police and fire communications operators were each paid more than $10,000 in overtime during the first three months of this year alone, records show. Georgine Murray topped the list with $23,439 in overtime through March 30.
Jennifer Martinez, a spokeswoman for the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, blamed the chronic overtime problem on increased call volume and on the 38 vacancies that still exist on the operations floor.
"We try to maintain a two-ring standard. Every ring could mean the difference between life and death, Martinez said.
"If it's a child being shot or someone suffering from a heart attack, we have to be able to dispatch those resources as soon as possible. Due to vacancies, that sometimes means holding people over on overtime."
Ray Orozco, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, is working with union leaders on possible solutions to excessive overtime beyond the 10-hour-a-day, four-day-a-week "power shift" already implemented.