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Dispatchers rally for more hires

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— St. Joseph County dispatchers say they’re overworked and understaffed.

Tuesday, they protests ahead of a county council meeting to say enough is enough.

Protesters called for officials to hire 14 more staffers.

“Our workers are rallied, we have fought for, it’s almost been 2 years,” said David Robertson, Asst. Director for AFSCME.

Two years of what they’re calling unfair work conditions pushed dozens of call center employees to demonstrate outside the County City building in South Bend.

“You’re looking at people that have worked 300, 500, 600, some people over 1,000 hours a year in overtime,” said Dawn Burger, a longtime dispatcher. “Not because we want to, because you’re mandated to.”

Burger and other dispatchers brought their children to join in on the protest to show county officials what they’re missing by taking on the job.

“You make promises or there are birthday parties, or there are school events and at the last minute, I’m told that I have to work a 12 hour shift,” said Burger. “I want you to see the calls that we answer, I want you to see that we don’t get an adequate 15 minute break away from our terminal, I want you to see that we don’t get a half hour lunch away from our terminal.”

She pointed that comment at the county council.

“We have an open ear and an open mind about the situation,” said Rafael Morton, St. Joseph County Council President. “Personally I feel it’s very important that we come to some type of decision.”

But the council says the final decision rests on the call center’s executive board.

And it wants to wait to approve a staff shake up until all tech changes are complete.

“So they’re really trying to look at all those factors to make what they feel will be an informed decision,” said Morton.

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