After long and heated meetings between commissioners and union officials took place, Somerset county commissioners now say parties are coming together to work as a team.
“We’re pretty proud of the progress we’re making and continue to make moving forward, ”
The union approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU), That was presented to them by each of the commissioners.
He says the MOU’s purpose is to provide retention and recruitment to the 911 center and its staffing base. Walker says prior to this agreement, the 911 center was struggling to bring in new workers. Somerset county fire chiefs and residents saying those circumstances “scared them to death.” He describes workers’ thoughts leading up to now.
“Well, we were hopeful for that turning point. We knew it would come. It was just pulling everyone together and, you know, working as a team, and I think that’s what will make the 911 center stronger in the end, you know.”
He says the people who did work at the 911 center took the remaining work. He says he and others are very grateful for their efforts.
“There was always someone at the dispatch center that was going to answer the calls, as they came in. That’s first and foremost. Those professionals stepped up to the plate, and they made sure that we had no open positions.”
He says retaining the knowledge that the dispatchers had was crucial, and if the remaining workers left, training new hires would be harder. Commissioners also say the center has received some new applications, and trainees will soon be filling up some of the vacant positions.
Shanksville volunteer fire chief, Dan Dink Dively, says more needs to be done. “It’s only 15 dollars an hour, and you can still go to some of the fast food places, and you can get 17 dollars an hour. These are supposed to be skilled workers. They need specialized training to deal with the stuff they deal with.”
I reached out to union representatives, to hear their take on the situation. They have not gotten back to me yet.