BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Unless an agreement is reached by 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, hundreds of paramedics and EMTs employed by Rural/Metro will walk off the job.
The union representing the first responders is still without a contract and a strike could mean problems for emergency service for thousands of people.
Rural/Metro will still respond to calls, but it won't be local crews. The company will pull in paramedics and EMTs from all over the country should the union go on strike.
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "The company is more concerned about their bottom line than they are the people of western New York."
Union workers are calling for higher wages and better health care options.
"By refusing to pay their workers a fair wage, the company may put thousands of western New Yorkers in harm's way without the essential emergency response services they need, which is why we're calling on them to step up to the plate: pay their workers what they deserve," Senator Kennedy said.
Senator Kennedy says EMTs and paramedics are only paid around $10 an hour, which he calls an "abomination." Crews canvassed the Taste of Buffalo, handing out flyers that call Rural/Metro's business model a recipe for disaster.
A fence has been set up around the company's Buffalo headquarters ahead of the strike. Workers would be locked out starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Rural/Metro spokesman Brian Lawson tells News 4 "pieces are being put in place" if a deal isn't reached.
"The plan we have in place is designed to continue a timely EMS service to western New York," he said.
Lawson says there will be continuing coverage in service areas and 911 calls will still be prioritized. Replacement crews have already been shipped in. Lawson says they're in meetings, learning Rural/Metro protocols. But he says the company is hopeful talks will end Monday with a contract.
Talks continue at this hour with a federal mediator. But a spokesman for Teamsters Local 375 says they are fully expecting to strike.
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