Workers of the Monroe County Central Emergency Dispatch Center, who are employed by the City of Bloomington, voted 17-0 to unionize Tuesday.
The workers are asking the city to recognize them as first responders, treating them in a similar way to BPD and BFD, according to a statement from Jefferey Borders, a member of the Monroe County CEDC. They are also asking for better working conditions to alleviate staffing shortages, which will in turn make the group a better resource for public safety, Borders said.
They have formed as a Communications Workers of America local — the CWA is the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.
The group’s mission statement and voluntary recognition letter was provided to the mayor of Bloomington and the Bloomington City Council Tuesday. The statement had all 17 signatures, according to Borders.
The group has not heard official word back from the mayor at this time but are remaining hopeful, Borders said.
According to the group’s mission statement, emergency dispatchers work every day to support on-scene responders and the people of Monroe County. The mission statement summarizes a list of goals the group is seeking, including a more robust pay scale and reliable scheduling, increased fairness and diversity in the Dispatch Center and a better way for feedback and negotiation to take place with the city.
If the improvements are made in these areas, the statement says, there will be decreased worker burnout, increased longevity and the center will be able to attract new talent.
“A happy, healthy, and fully staffed Dispatch Center is a benefit to all of Bloomington’s residents and visitors,” the group said in the statement.
The Indiana Grad Workers Coalition – UE, which has been fighting for union recognition and better benefits within IU for months, expressed support for the workers on Twitter Tuesday.
“If anyone deserves the title ‘essential worker,’ it’s them," the IGWC-UE said in the tweet.