by Justin Lee | February 17, 2012
SAN JOSE, Calif. – In an historic union election, 280 private sector EMS professionals in Santa Clara County voted overwhelmingly to build their own local with AFSCME.
EMS workers at the emergency medical services company, Rural/Metro – including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and vehicle supply techs – are now part of the same national union that represents 20,000 EMS workers nationwide. They join the ranks of the uniformed paramedics and EMTs of the FDNY.
With four options on the ballot, last night’s vote count clearly showed that Northern California EMS workers are ready for national unity. One hundred and thirteen voted to join AFSCME, and not a single worker voted against forming a union. Check out video of members reacting to the big win here:
"The support we got from other AFSCME locals during this process is just amazing,” said Samantha Tennison, a paramedic with Rural/Metro. “It feels good knowing that EMS workers on the East Coast and around the country have our backs. This is going to unite EMS workers nationwide.”
After being a part of a small, absent, unaffiliated union, EMS workers across Northern California are building their own AFSCME local with strength, accountability, and democracy so they can begin to address the issues that affect their jobs and the services they provide.
“It really hit us home, because we relate to the same issues they currently face. It was important for me to come out here and share with them our history,” said Oren Barzilay, an EMT with Local 2507 in New York City. In recent weeks, he and many of his colleagues came to California to lend a hand in the organizing effort.
On the heels of this victory, another 2,000 private-sector EMS workers at in Northern California have already filed for the election to join their coworkers in United EMS Workers, AFSCME.