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EMS employees offer to renegotiate pay raises

Friday, June 12, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Members of the board of the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services employees union voted this morning to open contract negotiations with the city in order to help resolve the current $30-43 million shortfall.


Steve Stewart, president of the EMS employees union, told In Fact Daily that the board had taken a vote this morning. He plans to notify City Manager Marc Ott by letter of the group’s offer to defer its scheduled pay raise, saving the city an estimated $1.4 million. The Austin Police Association sent a similar letter to Ott Thursday, offering to defer their raises. No other group is city employees is anticipating a raise this year because of the decline in city revenues.


Informed of the decision, City Manager Marc Ott said he was very appreciative of the employees’ offer. Ott said “I think it’s very commendable on their part to be willing to come back to the table,” to discuss compensation.


Stewart said emergency employees are hopeful that they can convince the city to add two ambulances, which would serve as peak load units—meaning they would be dispatched to whatever station was most in need at the time. Each unit costs about $600,000 per year, he said.


The city/county service currently operates 31 ambulances stationed throughout the county. Highest call volumes are generally in East Austin, Stewart said. What EMS leaders would like to see is a decrease in response times, which are currently not as fast as they should be on Priority 1 emergencies, he said.


Ott said he could not comment on the whether the city would use the deferred raises for additional EMS units because the matter would be neogitated.

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