Fire union prez says city attacking EMS workers


Brian McBride, president of Local 22 of the firefighters union, is none too happy - again - with the Nutter adminstration.

He got word at about 4 p.m. Friday that the city's 250 or so paramedics would soon be subject to schedule changes in an effort to cut overtime and reduce costs. In fact, the Fire Department issued a news release addressing the shift on Saturday, at 6 p.m. 

Right now, paramedics work two 10-hour days and two 14-hour nights, McBride said. He was told that would change so that all the paramedics would work 12-hour shifts, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.,  for three years.

McBride said the city told him it would save $800,000 by making the change. But the actual cost, he says, will be much higher. "This will cause people to quit, because of child-care issues and other reasons," McBride said.

The Fire Department news release said the new schedule would take effect April 30 for all paramedics up to and including the rank of paramedic captain. "The Department is changing the schedule of paramedics to a fixed 42-hour schedule to eliminate the City's liability for overtime when paramedics work their regularly scheduled hours," the release said.

It's not just the money issue McBride's angry about. It's the way in which the change occurred - away from the bargaining table. "They are trying to institute a shift change without talking to us, without negotiating," McBride said. "We intend to fight it."

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said in an interview that the shift change was "an adjustment that is allowed by the contract that had to be done." Under the new schedule, paramedics will work two days on, two days off, three days on, two days off, two days on and three days off - with every other weekend off.

"The facts are that the city has a right to change the paramedic schedule," Ayers said. "It's in the contract, and the city is doing everything lawfully."

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