“CITY HALL â€” Union firefighters are threatening to sue over a city initiative that gives graduates of Chicago Public Schools preferential treatment in city hiring, just as Mayor Rahm Emanuel trumpets a new round of recruitment for the Fire Department.
Emanuel’s office made a point Wednesday of drawing attention to anÂ online application for the Fire DepartmentÂ open through Sept. 16. It costs $30 to apply, with a written exam set for December for qualified applicants.
The job description makes clear that those who already have completed fire or police training receive preferential treatment for firefighter and police positions, as do relatives of those who died in the line of duty as police officers, firefighters or military personnel. It also states a hiring preference for veterans and CPS high school graduates.
Yet that last attempt to give a leg up to CPS grads is a sticking point for some firefighters.
“There’s been an outcry by our membership on some of this,” Tom Ryan, president of the city’s firefighter union, said Tuesday. “They just feel that, being taxpayers and citizens, that should be enough, that all children who live in the City of Chicago should be given the same treatment.
“It’s a tough issue,” Ryan said. “And you want to do the right thing by everyone.”
The Fire Department hiring notice, first posted online last week, specifies: “The City of Chicago offers a CPS Graduate Preference to high school graduates from the Chicago Public School system.”
Emanuel has touted the CPS grad preference frequently in urging kids to stay in school.
“The hiring preference policy encourages Chicago Public School students to stay in school and get their diploma so they are prepared for college and a career,” mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said Wednesday.
Quinn cited a city policy stating that the Department of Human Resources ensures that “a minimum of 20 percent of the candidates referred for a position that has the CPS hiring consideration are CPS graduates.”
Tom Ryan, president of the firefighters’ union, says there’s plenty of time to work out a compromise on hiring preferences.View Full Caption