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Emergency dispatchers call for pay raise

March 2, 2015

by Molly-Kate Webster

Emergency 911 phone calls in the region have increased tenfold in the past five years and dispatchers at those call centers still have no contract.  At Albany’s Common Council meeting Monday night a city police officer and a dispatcher argued in favor of an improved contract.

New contract terms should be included  in this year’s budget to provide better working conditions, said Kevin Flynn, president of the Albany Police Officer’s Union, and Thomas Reedy, a dispatcher.

Members of the Common Council listen to public comments/Molly-Kate Webster

Members of the Common Council listen to public comments/Molly-Kate Webster

Reedy said the command staff had received a 10 percent raise in 2015, but dispatchers are still waiting on a contract since 2010.

Dispatchers receive phone calls that range from helping someone administer CPR to a child to locating a car that had been towed,  Reedy said. “We are a human phone tree.”

In 2010 the Police Department received an approval for a 9.5 percent raise over three years and typically dispatchers at the call centers received similar increases, until they were excluded from the last contract approval.

Reedy said that they work harder than the average office worker; they work nights, weekends, and holidays. This is not to diminish the work of those who work in offices, Reedy said, but that is a different line of work. They are trained to deal with difficult situations and they feel that they do not receive adequate wages.

Reedy identified $573,000 in the budget that was not spent and that that money could have been allocated to the disparity in pay.

The Council tabled any action on the request that the dispatcher contractor.

“We have all worked a 16 hour Christmas,” said Reedy. Some 39 workers workers would benefit from the new contract, Reedy said.

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