About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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New EMS contract out for ratification by rank-and-file union members
Under a contract that union members will be considering over the next two weeks, sworn employees of the Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical System would see a 1 percent raise for FY2014 and FY 2015, and a 2 percent raise in FY2016.
Union members began the process of learning about the proposal yesterday. Sessions to hear about the contract and ask questions will continue through Sept. 20. In an email to members, union chief Tony Marquardt said he expects the ratification vote to take place the week of Sept. 23. The existing contract expires at the end of the month.
In Fact Daily obtained a copy of the contract Wednesday evening, and confirmed with a knowledgeable source that it is the final version that is being presented to union members.
Public Safety Commissioner Mike Levy estimates that the pay increases in the tentative contract would cost the city an extra $3.75 million for each of the first two years, or a total of $15 million over the life of the contract. He said the money would be worth it if it helps
Levy added that that
In addition to pay issues,
According to an analysis by the union, employees will have some stronger protections in cases of disciplinary review.
Also under the contract, the Association president would essentially operate as an executive, working on Association Business Leave for most of the year. The president would be required to complete field work and continuing education and maintain an active licensed and credentialed status, but would otherwise spend his time on union duties. Other union officials would also be able to use Business Leave when performing union duties. That time off would be covered by other
The contract will also require EMS management to notify personnel at least 28 days ahead of time when they make a “significant schedule change” (in either days worked or scheduled time off) in order to provide coverage of special events, such as South by Southwest, the Texas Relays or the Formula 1 race.
Also worthy of note is that the contract appears to leave room for consolidation of
The city has been unable to reach an agreement with the firefighters union.
The City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission recently failed to recommend the A/TCEMS budget for FY2014. Commissioner Levy told In Fact Daily via email that he and his colleagues acted “because of significant questions as to its justification by A/TCEMS management, and that no business case was made for proposed increases.”
Levy also told In Fact Daily that “the Commission would recommend to the Council that it instruct the manager to begin as soon as possible the examination of consolidating A/TCEMS with AFD so that AFD would assume management responsibility of A/TCEMS to improve the management of A/TCEMS and yield what is believed to be a several million dollar cost savings in areas such as the removal of layers in the A/TCEMS management bureaucracy.”
Despite the contract going out for ratification this week, City Council has not yet approved it. Asked why Council had not voted on the contract this week during one of the budget sessions, Mayor Lee Leffingwell said, “Because it wasn’t posted (for action), it was only posted for discussion just for executive session. The membership has to vote on it and we have to vote on it on the 26th.” The next City Council meeting will be Sept. 26.
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