Niagara Gazette

July 16, 2013

Brief strike by Rural Metro EMTs and paramedics provided no problems in Falls

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It was a strike that didn't last long and apparently didn't cause much disruption for folks in the Falls.

About eight hours after being locked out by Rural Metro Ambulance, striking emergency medical technicians and paramedics agreed to a new contract. The four-year deal covers about 380 paramedics and EMTs and reportedly addresses increased wages and improved working conditions.

Details on the new pact were not released, pending a vote by union members. Kevin Drysdale, president of Teamsters Local 375, which represents the EMTs and paramedics told News 4 Buffalo that he believes the new contact will be approved by his members.

"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." Drysdale said. "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.”

On again, off again negotiations between Rural Metro and the union had been under way for nearly three months. They concluded with a nearly 24-hour bargaining session that began on Monday morning.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, all the striking workers were back on the job. They replaced management and non-union workers that had been brought in by Rural Metro to work during the strike. 

“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,” Rural Metro Director of Public Affairs Brian Lawson said.

Falls Fire Chief Tom Colangelo told the Gazette that "Rural Metro management employees filled in for the city starting at midnight (Monday) and continued until the striking EMTs and paramedics returned to their posts.

"There was no problems with the fill-ins," Colangelo said. "But it was a quiet night in the Falls. I don't know about other areas they covered, but (Rural Metro) seemed to have a handle on the Falls."

In a statement released to the media, Rural Metro General Manager Jay Smith said, “We’re pleased to have come to this favorable agreement so that our EMTs and Paramedics can return to the communities they serve."