York County's 911 operators wouldn't be the first union workers to exaggerate ahead of contract negotiations.

It's kind of how the game is played, and both sides are guilty of it.

Workers might liken their office space to a sweat shop, while employers would have us believe they're being held up at gun point.

County Commissioner Chris Reilly says this is what's behind the 911 workers' complaints about working conditions.

"They came here to stage a little show," he said after Wednesday's commissioners meeting. "They had an audience and they came to do some public posturing. That's all part of the union management game "¦"

Perhaps.

But the commissioners can't just write off such concerns without investigating.

These people aren't making widgets.

At any given moment they might have someone's life in their hands - either a resident's or a first responder's.

The employees' union representative told the commissioners this week the 911 center is understaffed; operators are working as many as 80 hours a week and 12 days in a row, with no days off.

Tara Wilson of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees asked commissioners to hire more operators soon, because the overworked crew presents a potential risk to those who call 911.


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Reilly denied public safety is at risk and challenged the workers - whose contract expires at the end of the month - to "roll the tape, show me one instance where that has occurred."

We take it there have been no instances, which is fortunate.

And we'd like to keep it that way.

As contract negotiation stunts go, this wouldn't exactly be outlandish - the union simply asked the commissioners to fill vacant positions.

There are six empty slots now, according to Reilly, and the commissioners are trying to hire more people.

But it takes time, he said, because the jobs are stressful and don't pay very well.

That's not exactly reassuring.

Actually, Reilly makes a pretty good case for the 911 workers ahead of their contract negotiations.