Emergency responders out in the cold with no employment contracts

One of the most overlooked benefits of living in a larger city or town is the public service amenities, including those provided by first responders. While no one can deny the valuable service that these dedicated individuals provide, these workers may feel unappreciated when they are left out in the cold with no current employment contracts in force. It is not unusual for California towns to attempt to negotiate the terms of these contracts, but the providers may feel undervalued when they feel forced to provide care for residents without having a valid agreement in place.

One current dispute has been ongoing since last fall. According to a union representative, the two sides failed to reach an accord over salary. The emergency responders in this town are purportedly receiving pay that is well below the rate for other emergency providers in their city as well as in the surrounding locales. Union officials had requested a 2 percent pay increase for the next several years until the pay became more comparable to others providing similar services to their communities. 

City officials walked away from talks after claiming that the union was requesting an estimated $8 million more than the city could willingly afford to extend. Since October, these vital responders have been working under the rules of civil service, which makes provisions for them to receive their current salaries but without the possibility of receiving any increases. The department claims it currently has approximately 75 positions that could possibly be filled if the city would offer higher salaries along with a new contract.

Austin officials recently stated that they regret that these workers are currently without a contract agreement and also purportedly stated that these service providers apparently came last when the city was renegotiating with its police and fire departments until all available resources were already allocated. They have requested that union representatives resubmit their request for consideration in February in order to reinstate the old contract until a new one can be drafted. California workers who find themselves in similar circumstances, without proper employment contracts in place, do have recourse to skilled employment law professionals who can provide assistance in resolving these disputes in a satisfactory manner.

Source: kut.org, "With Labor Dispute Focused On Police, Austin's EMS Union Feels Overlooked", Nadia Hamdan, Jan. 11, 2018

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