BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The future looks a lot better for Rural Metro employees. They have a new contract deal in the works. Members will be voting on the agreement soon. The strike is over and union members have returned to work.
It took nearly three months of negotiations; including a nearly 24-hour bargaining session that started Monday morning, but a tentative deal was finally reached between Rural Metro and the union representing nearly 400 EMTs and paramedics.
A deal was not reached by midnight, and workers officially went on strike outside the Rural Metro headquarters in Buffalo. Contract talks continued throughout the night. Around 7 a.m., union members said they had broken away from the table when the company would not put forward an acceptable proposal. Around 8:30 a.m., the union president brought word to the Teamsters that a tentative deal had finally been reached.
Union President Kevin Drysdale said, "There was a clear communication from these members that they need improvements in wages. They need maintenance in their health care and they were concerned about working conditions here. I'm here today to say that with their work, our negotiating committee, their dedication and a great Teamster's union, we were able to get all three of them."
The tentative contract is for four years. Specifics could not be discussed until ratification, but the union president believes members will approve the agreement.
Overnight, temporary crews were brought in to provide medical service. Rural Metro did provide them with GPS devices and brought in extra dispatch staff in case drivers needed help.
"We tried to manage our way through that as best we could and I think we need to tip our hat to the folks that came in from around New York and out of town to serve people in the area," said Rural Metro Director of Public Affairs Brian Lawson.
Lawson said there were no major problems with the out-of-town crews overnight, but those temporary workers will now be going home.
Statement from Rural Metro:
"There has been a lot of hard work put into this process over the last few weeks and certainly the last 24 hours," said Jay Smith, Rural/Metro Division General Manager. "We're pleased to have come to this favorable agreement so that our EMTs and Paramedics can return to the communities they serve. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our partners in healthcare and first response and particularly those dedicated EMTs, Paramedics and staff who left their homes and families to serve the communities of Western New York."
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