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EMS locals overwhelmingly ratify 49-month contract

Photo credit: Getty.
By Mike Lee, AFSCME District Council 37 ·

NEW YORK – EMS workers in New York have approved a new, 49-month contract that will recognize their sacrifices during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

AFSCME District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido; Uniformed EMS Officers Union (Local 3621) President Vincent Variale; and Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY (Local 2507) President Oren Barzilay announced a tentative contract on Aug. 6. Under that deal, the more than 4,500 Fire Department of New York employees will receive salary increases, improved recruitment and retention, and an expanded mental health response pilot program.

More than 70% of the members of the two locals have approved that contract. The overwhelming support reflected years of frustration at the lack of a new contract, particularly during the 18 months of the pandemic.

As front-line essential public workers, EMTs responded to thousands of emergency calls daily in the initial two months of the pandemic. Between shifts, they often slept in their cars because of fear of spreading the virus to their families.

“They work tirelessly to survive under the current financial climate we live in. Our local started a campaign in recent years to make the public aware of our working and living conditions. This contract brings us closer to what we have been fighting for,” Barzilay said back in August after the deal was made with the city.

The first three salary increases under the now-ratified agreement are in line with the terms DC 37 negotiated in the citywide contract in June 2018: 2% retroactive to June 29, 2018; 2.25% retroactive to June 29, 2019; and 3% as of July 29, 2020. The remaining 4% raise will be paid effective Sept. 12, 2021, and was partially funded by an approximate five-month extension of the original DC 37 agreement.

Under the deal, FDNY EMS will have to work 2,088 hours in a year, up from 1,957, matching the schedules for police and firefighters. Workers covered by the new contract include EMTs, paramedics, EMS lieutenants and captains, and fire protection inspectors.

Garrido celebrated the deal as a major victory for some of the city’s hardest working essential workers.

“New York City’s EMTs put their lives on the line daily during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without their fearlessness and dedication, New Yorkers would have been on their own,” Garrido said. “We have fought long and hard to get these workers what they are owed and with the ratification of this contract, big raises are coming their way.”

Variale agreed. “While there’s still work to be done, this contract provides financial relief for our EMS members, the heroes of NYC,” he said.

Under the new contract, the locals expect members will receive thousands of dollars in retroactive pay – starting with pay increases from 2018 – by the end of the year.

The agreement also includes a 6% pay differential for those EMS employees trained and available to be deployed as part of the city’s mental health response pilot program that pairs EMS workers with trained mental health professionals to respond to nonviolent mental health calls typically handled by the police.

Other economic benefits under the agreement include increases to longevity payments, annuity payments, and uniform allowance payments.

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