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Pittsburgh Paramedics Vote to Authorize Strike

Nearly Two Years Without a Contract

THE PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, PARAMEDICS VOTED FRIDAY to reject a contract proposal that the city had offered.  The tally was an overwhelming 134 to 9 to not only reject the offer, they also authorized the leaders of their Local 1, Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics, to call a strike if and when they choose to do it.  There previous contract expired on December 2010 and they have been without one since then.

There are several points of conflict between the two sides and none of the news reports even mention pay as being one of them.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting:

Talks for a new agreement were complicated by the city's proposal to shift rescue work from medics to the fire bureau, part of the city's plan to create a nimbler network of public safety services.

The Emergency Medical Services Bureau now operates about a dozen ambulances and two rescue trucks. Often, both rescue trucks respond to a call.

One of the two Pittsburgh Paramedics heavy rescue trucks.
http://www.ambulance-photos.com/

To improve efficiency and response time, the city proposed putting vehicle extrication equipment on firetrucks, which respond to accidents anyway. The city also proposed creating a joint paramedic-firefighter unit for more sophisticated rescues, such as those involving confined spaces or industrial accidents. With fewer paramedics needed for rescues, the city could put more ambulance crews on the street at peak call times.

The EMS Bureau also handles swift-water and river rescues as well as rope rescue and vehicle extrication.  The city wants to immediately transfer the extrication duties and all the equipment to the Fire Bureau, but until now have not proposed shifting the others.  However, the state is pressuring them to shift all major rescue responsibility to the fire side for the sake of efficiency.

As for the next step in negotiations or job actions, "We'll wait and see what the mayor's office wants to do," said Anthony Weinmann, president of Local 1 told the press.

Read the full story in the Post-Gazette HERE.

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