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Firefighter Forum Opening Plenary: Cultural & Political Polarization Auditorium Opening Plenary: Cultural & Political Polarization

2022 Illinois Public Sector Conference
Labor Law |  Labor Relations
Carolyn Clifford |  Benjamin Gehrt |  Jerry J. Marzullo |  Chuck Sullivan
1 Hour 17 Minutes
Audio and Video
Original Program Date:
Dec 02, 2022
Product Type:
On Demand - Also available: On Demand  16
Never expires.


The firefighter forum will discuss labor relations developments specific to the fire and EMS profession over the last year.  

Topics covered will include:

Recruitment challenges
IAFF and Village of Oak Brook interest arbitration
PSEBA developments
Pension fund investment pooling
Community Emergency Services Supports Act (CESSA)
The Battalion Chief Bill


Carolyn Clifford's Profile

Carolyn Clifford Related seminars and products

Ottosen DiNolfo Hasenbalg & Castaldo, Ltd.

Carolyn Welch Clifford has devoted her legal career to the representation of local governments in Illinois with a special emphasis on legal issues involving the fire service. In her practice, Ms. Clifford represents public pension funds, fire and police commissions, and fire protection districts. In her practice, Ms. Clifford is actively involved in legal issues regarding the management of public pension funds. Ms. Clifford has extensive experience in handling disability pension matters from the initial hearing stage to appellate review. Her experience with employment matters from the initial hiring stage through disability and retirement provides her a unique perspective in advising clients. Ms. Clifford has handled a number of appellate cases and argued before the Illinois Appellate Court. Ms. Clifford regularly contributes articles to several publications and currently serves as the convener of the Public Safety Affinity Group for the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys (NAPPA). Ms. Clifford received her J.D. from the University of Illinois. 

Benjamin Gehrt's Profile

Benjamin Gehrt Related seminars and products


Clark Baird Smith LLP

Ben Gehrt focuses his practice on traditional labor law and employment litigation.  He has experience in grievance and interest arbitration cases, contract negotiations, and unfair labor practice charges.  Ben also represents clients in EEO and wage-hour litigation.  Prior to practicing law, Ben worked as a Plant Manager for a food manufacturing company in suburban Chicago.  His experience as a supervisor and a manager gives him a unique perspective that helps him relate to the day-to-day challenges our clients face while managing people.

Ben has represented public and private sector clients in contract negotiations and interest arbitration.  In those settings, he has helped clients obtain significant cost savings through changes in staffing levels, wage schedules, retiree insurance benefits, sick leave buyback benefits, and work rule changes, among other things.

Ben is also an experienced litigator.  In addition to representing clients in grievance arbitration proceedings, Ben has also litigated cases in the state and federal trial courts.  His litigation experience includes cases involving allegations of discrimination, employment cases alleging deprivation of constitutional rights, wage-hour disputes, and disputes over employee benefits under both ERISA and Illinois state law.  In addition to his trial court experience, Ben has successfully represented clients in the state and federal courts of appeal.

Additionally, Ben has developed a niche practice at Clark Baird Smith LLP, counseling the firm’s clients on a wide variety of wage and hour issues under both state and federal law.  In addition to handling the traditional wage payment questions that arise with private sector businesses, Ben is skilled at answering questions that are unique to the public sector, such as questions about compensatory time, 7(k) work periods, pay for canine handlers, and duty shift trades, to name a few.

Ben has been selected as a Leading Lawyer and an Illinois Super Lawyer.  

Ben has also authored and contributed to numerous books and articles regarding labor and employment law.  He is a co-editor and chapter author for Much Smarter Bargaining.  He has also authored contributions to the NPELRA Legal Corner, The Developing Labor Law (BNA), How To Take A Case Before The NLRB (8th Ed. BNA), and a chapter in the Municipal Law Deskbook (ABA 2015) published by the American Bar Association’s Section on State and Local Government Law.

In addition to his practice, Ben volunteers as a judge and advisory board member for the NICASA Teen Court.

Jerry J. Marzullo's Profile

Jerry J. Marzullo Related seminars and products


Asher Gittler & D'Alba Ltd.

Jerry Marzullo is a shareholder with the firm and also serves as one of the Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association. Jerry concentrates his practice in the area of public sector labor and employment law (where he represents both State and Federal Sector Unions) as well as public and private sector pension law and retirement systems. He has successfully represented clients in both pension and labor matters including collective bargaining, discipline, arbitrations, pension hearings (representing Pension Boards), administrative review and declaratory judgment proceedings on Administrative, State and Federal Levels. He has argued on behalf of clients in the Circuit and Appellate Courts in Illinois and before the Illinois Supreme Court. He has also represented numerous clients in Federal Court. Jerry has considerable experience in both litigation and appellate work with numerous reported, and Rule 23, decisions. Jerry is also a former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. 

Jerry received his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a dual concentration in Strategic Management and Managerial and Organizational Behavior.

Jerry is licensed to practice law in Illinois at the State and Federal levels. He is affiliated with the Illinois State Bar Association and serves as an Advisory Committee Member for the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference.

He has previously taught both undergraduate and Master’s Degree courses in various topics at the University level on both labor and other law topics. Jerry has been a frequent speaker on both labor and pension related issues for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, the Illinois Professional Firefighters Association, the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association and the Chicago-Kent Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Conference. Jerry has authored legal articles for publication including, most recently, the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report (A Statement of Facts: The Reality of Public Safety Employee Pension Funds in the State of Illinois; Vol. 37 No. 3; Possible Wisdom and Wit regarding the Arbitration of Discipline; Vol. 39 No. 3). He has also helped train command staff police officers and firefighters at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy (NIPSTA).

Jerry is a City of Berwyn Battalion Chief (IAFF-AFFI Local 506) where he currently has 23 years of creditable service and is former President of the City of Berwyn Firefighter's Pension Fund and former Vice-President of IAFF-AFFI Local 506. He is a Certified Fire and Arson Investigator, Advanced Technician Firefighter and Chief Fire Officer.

Finally, and most importantly, he is happily married to one of Chicago's finest Police Lieutenants and has two evil pugs that he barely restrains from taking over the world.

Chuck Sullivan's Profile

Chuck Sullivan Related seminars and products


Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

Chuck is President of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.  He has served in that role since January of 2020.  The AFFI represents over 15,000 firefighters and paramedics in 225 locals across the state.

Prior to becoming the President, he served as the AFFI Central District Legislative Representative from 2008-2020.  During that time, he worked extensively on legislation and rules within Article 4 of the Illinois Pension Statute that affects Downstate and Suburban Firefighters. Chuck Sullivan was appointed to the Firefighters’ Pension Investment Fund Board on January 31, 2020. Chuck has served as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees since the Board’s inception.

Chuck has an Associate’s degree in Fire Science and a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. He was a firefighter with the City of Champaign from 1995 until his retirement in March of 2022 at the rank of Battalion Chief.  In addition he is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served in Desert Storm.

Alternate Options

IELRA Developments
Original Program Date: 12/02/2022
Responding to Incivility in the Workplace
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IPLRA Developments
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Mock Mediation
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Nuts & Bolts of Employee Discipline
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School Board Issues
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Womens' Rights Amendment
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Impact Bargaining
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Interest Arbitration
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Lessons from Recent Strikes
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Ethics: Ethics Session on Mental Health
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Nuts & Bolts of Arbitration
Original Program Date: 12/02/2022