Jun 03, 2015

San Diego EMTs Organize Outside City Council Meeting

On June 1, 2015 over 80 EMS professionals showed up outside a San Diego city council meeting. The members organized in an effort to persuade the city council to reject a proposal to give Rural / Metro Ambulance a five-year extension and instead declare a 60-day cooling off period in which to settle a contentious labor dispute.

Despite our members’ best efforts, the city council did extend the contract with Rural / Metro for the next five years.

Some council members had expressed disappointment with Rural / Metro and a desire to see bids from other companies, but complex regulations regarding RFPs made councilors reluctant to complicate matters further. NAGE National EMS Director Phil Petit commented on the matter. “Even though the cool off period wasn’t granted, our members are unified behind our fight for fair wages,” said Philip Petit.   “We will continue this fight and take our momentum back to the table where management now understands the City Council, members and the EMS world are now watching.”

Jen Restle, President of NAGE EMS Local R6-19, spoke before the council on several key issues her members have faced for years. President Restle has been paving the way for EMS employees in San Diego, stating that some members work upwards of 80 hours per week at multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Restle commented, “EMS workers are paid hourly to save people’s lives…We are here to ask for a livable wage. Many of my members have 2 or even 3 jobs and still have trouble feeding their families.” Many EMTs start off making only $10 per hour.

Although NAGE EMS was unable to convince the city council to reject the Rural / Metro extension, Local R6-19 was able to push their message of fair wages for EMS employees forward and garner public support. They will continue with negotiations and other actions in an effort to reach a satisfactory contract agreement. 

We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few; but we can't have both. - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
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