Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Paramedics Set to Meet with Officials on Contract Impasse

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Paramedics Set to Meet with Officials on Contract Impasse

Article excerpt

The Pittsburgh paramedics union leadership and city public safety officials likely will meet again for contract negotiations after medics in an overwhelming vote rejected what the city had described as its final offer this week.

Neither union president Anthony Weinmann nor Public Safety Director Michael Huss is sure yet when that meeting will take place, but both signaled they would be willing to further discuss an agreement. The union has been without a contract since December 2010.

The Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics, Local 1, on Thursday voted down the city's proposal 124-4. Unlike police and fire unions, arbitration isn't an option for paramedics.

Mr. Weinmann said although the union is authorized to strike, it has chosen to proceed with day-to-day operations.

"We're currently working ,and we're going to see what develops," Mr. Weinmann said.

Mr. Huss said he thought the city offered an agreement that met the parameters of the state's Act 47 oversight of city finances.

"It's not to say that they have not performed well," he said of the medic bureau. "It's to say that we want to redistribute our existing resources to meet the growing needs of our city."

Both men declined to talk about what was specifically discussed in the latest negotiations.

City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who heads the public safety committee, couldn't be reached for comment.

Mark Pinchalk, a Pittsburgh paramedic for 23 years, said the rejection was not over financial issues but rather the shifting of rescue work to the fire bureau.

"The bigger problem for us is breaking up the [medic] bureau and removing that rescue arm," he said.

He gave the example of one particular rescue in April 2011, when paramedics rescued 22-year-old Kristi Demel after she climbed over a fence and fell off a cliff at the West End Overlook. She appeared to have a broken leg and foot, so medics stabilized her leg while still on the hillside and gave her intravenous painkillers and fluids. …

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