BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - EMTs and paramedics working for Rural/Metro have given their parent company 10-day notice of their intent to strike.
In a vote Wednesday, 99% of the first responders voted down the final contract offer given by Rural/Metro's parent company, private equity fund Warburg Pincus. On Friday, Teamster Local 375 delivered the required 10-day notice of their intent to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. on July 16.
Union negotiator Kevin Drysdale tells News 4 the union will only negotiate if they are contacted by the company. If no agreement is reached in 10 days, some 400 EMTs and paramedics will strike.
Drysdale warns a strike would have dire consequences for WNY. Rural/Metro typically responds to 300 to 400 calls each day.
Rural/Metro Division General Manager, Jay Smith issued the following statement:
"First and foremost, we want to assure people that EMS coverage will continue and they can expect the same high level of medical care. With this notice, as was the case following the union's vote earlier this week, we remain focused on negotiating in good faith and anticipate both parties will be in contact with the federal mediator to resume discussions and productively address the economic issues on which we currently differ. Our goal is to avoid any work stoppage by reaching a resolution that both provides for our employees and ensures fiscal sustainability in the ever-changing healthcare environment. It is the nature of the EMS industry to prepare for any variety of scenarios and we are working closely with our partners in first response, healthcare and other Rural/Metro divisions to ensure uninterrupted service."
Drysdale says finding replacements for Rural/Metro personnel would not be easy. Paramedics and EMTs must be certified in CPR, cardiac and pediatric advanced life support, and in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga, they have to have special ambulance licenses from the local government.
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