CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ENGAGES IN UNION BUSTING

 

IMAGINE A DEMOCRAT ADMINISTRATION BREAKING THE SMALLEST, MOST POWERLESS UNION IN THS CITY. WELL DONE MR. MAYOR.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Firefighters Union is pursuing an appeal of a State Labor Relations Board ruling that said paramedics are not members. LINK

PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT
HEADQUARTERS
GENERAL MEMORANDUM #10-116
October 4, 2010
TO : All PFD Fire Service Paramedics
REF/AUTHORITY : Fire Commissioner
SUBJECT : IMPLEMENTATION OF PLRB 
UNIT CLARIFICATION DECISION

As you probably know by now, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) ruled on September 21, 2010 that the position of Fire Service Paramedic should not be in the IAFF Local 22 bargaining unit because City of Philadelphia paramedics do not perform fire suppression and are not fire fighters under the law.
The effect of this decision is that paramedics are now non-represented civil service employees of the City. The terms of the collective bargaining agreement/interest arbitration awards between the City and Local 22 no longer apply. This in no way diminishes any paramedics standing as a uniformed member of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
I am sensitive to the fact that this decision has raised many questions about what this means for the terms and conditions of your employment. The City is committed to implementing this decision in an orderly way.
I will be conducting informational sessions on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 and Thursday, October 7, 2010 from 1900 to 2100 hours at the Philadelphia Fire Academy. I invite all paramedics to attend and ask any questions you may have. In the meantime, this memo serves as the first attempt to answer some of your questions. More information will follow.
• Wages: There will be no change to your base wages at this time.
• Longevity Pay: Consistent with the rules in place for non-represented civil service employees of the City, longevity and step increments will be frozen until the Mayor determines that economic conditions permit increases to be made. Your current longevity and pay step will not decrease as a result of this freeze.
• Premium Pay and Overtime: The City will continue to calculate and compensate you for premium pay based on your regular work schedule and overtime for hours worked outside your regular work schedule on the same basis that it has been doing so: (Continued)
Premium pay will be paid in the amount of 3 hours per week at “Rate 3”, the higher rate used to calculate your overtime and premium pay. Premium pay will offset against any overtime due for working up to 42 hours per week.
If you work more than 15 minutes after your regular shift, you will be paid overtime at a rate of one-and-one-half times Rate 3, regardless of the day worked or how many hours you have worked that week.
If this is going to change in the future, you will be provided notice in advance.
• Union Dues: The City will stop deducting Union Dues beginning with the October 8, 2010 paycheck.
• Legal Service Fees: The City will stop making a contribution to the Union legal services fund on behalf of FSPs.
• Health Care: As a non-represented employee, you and your families are eligible for coverage under the City Administered Plan. Additional information about the City’s plans will be provided to you separately. The City has agreed with Local 22 that Local 22 will provide health coverage to you and your families for the month of October 2010 to allow time for that changeover to occur.
• Leave Benefits: Your leave benefits will remain unchanged at this time.
• Grievance and Discipline: You will still be entitled to a trial board when charged with disciplinary action. You have the right to challenge certain personnel directions pursuant to the appeal process available to non-represented employees under the Civil Service Regulations.
• Pension: Information about pension will be provided in the near future.
The administration truly appreciates everyone’s understanding and cooperation during this implementation process.
LLOYD AYERS
FIRE COMMISSIONER

The City of Philadelphia, specifically the Nutter Administration has declared war on the Fire Department. Ironically the Fire Department is by far the most efficient and hardest working department in the entire city government. We are also the most powerless. Until now Firefighters and Paramedics were part of the same union, Local 22 IAFF. Unlike a real union that most people are familiar with we are more of a bargaining unit. We can’t strike due to the essential nature of our work and extreme working conditions we face. That means at contract time we sit down with the city and each side presents its case before a panel of arbitrators. Normally the city pleads poverty and asks for draconian work rules while the local asks for minimum pay and benefit increases to keep the members who are legally bound to live in the city from going broke. After the testimony the neutral arbitrator, after considering the facts presented issues an award. Both sides are bound to live with it. At least that is what ACT 111 says.  

The reality is that the city uses a state finance law (PICA) to stall and appeal any provision they don’t like. That means any benefits we as firefighters and medics win, can be postponed or eliminated altogether. It’s a sh*tty situation and more often than not we end up getting the short end of the stick. We even have to bargain for safety equipment. People are running around today comparing private and public sector employment just don’t get it or have a clue what they are talking about. It’s no picnic working for a municipality like Philly. The government is legendarily corrupt and inefficient yet blames its employees for its problems. While the city contemplates furloughing Police Officers and Firefighters for example, the Streets Department has 50 Recycling Inspectors who go through peoples trash in order to make sure they are recycling properly.

 Taking all that into consideration, our Paramedics decided a few years ago that they were fed up. In one of our contracts, they were awarded the right to transfer and become Firefighters. The city essentially denied them their right to do so citing Paramedic shortages. (Shortages caused by the terrible working conditions our medics endure). In any event it was established that even though medics get some very limited firefighting training at the academy when the come on the job, they for all intents and purposes are not firefighters. They spend their entire shifts working in the ambulances and possess a different skill set than Firefighters.

The medics, disheartened after being denied the right to retrain, decided that if that was the case, then the city was bound under FEDERAL LAW to pay them as Paramedics, not Firefighters. Up to that time medics were being lumped in as Firefighters. The city was happy to treat them different ways when it was to their advantage. Sometimes they were treated as Firefighters for pay and benefit purposes, and some times they were treated as medics not entirely equal to Firefighters. Yet LOCAL 22 has always represented the medics.

So the medics did what any American would do under the circumstances. They took their issues to court. They sued the city and WON! The judged found that the city of Philadelphia was in fact violating the medics rights since they were not Firefighters per se, and ordered the city to compensate them for their back pay and wages. Much of it had to do with the medics schedule and their overtime pay.

The first thing the city did of course and as usual was to RETALIATE. They immediately changed the medics schedule. Instead of negotiating with Local 22 for an amicable settlement the thin-skinned Nutter administration decided to punish the fire department (AND LOCAL 22). Ironically the fire department has borne the brunt of fiscal cutbacks by the Nutter administration since taking office. Rolling brownouts and closed companies are the hallmark of the Nutter administrations public safety strategy. Now the Nutter administration has gone even further. It has won a legal decision that sought the removal of Philly Paramedics from their union, Local 22 IAFF. In effect they are trying to destroy the Firefighters Union by removing about 270 members.

This is a DEMOCRAT administration folks. Remember that the next time someone says that Democrats are for the working man. BULLSHIT! Now our medics have no representation and are having their lives disrupted even further. It is a disgrace for a party that claims labor as a cornerstone of their constituency to treat workers in this fashion. I am not a big time union guy by any stretch. I have plenty of issues with the labor movement in general. But the process by which cops, firefighters and medics negotiated in good faith for wages and benefits while continuing to provide essential services to the citizens who pay our salary’s is about as good as you are going to get. Yet this just shows how the little guy gets treated by an all-powerful and vengeful government.

I’m asking State Law Makers to Support Local 22 and the Firefighters and Paramedics who put their lives on the line everyday to help save lives. It’s also time for Conservative and Republican lawmakers alike to get behind our members. We are a natural constituency that have been ignored all too long by the Republican party. You can support collective bargaining for cops, firefighters and medics without supporting the left wing labor movement. There is a window of opportunity here. Don’t miss it.

Philly Firefighters and Medics are 14 months without a new contract as of this writing.

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32 Responses to CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ENGAGES IN UNION BUSTING

  1. Randal Graves says:

    I guess they can strike now.

    • madmike59 says:

      They are not union members in any sense right now. They need to join a union. I say we get them cards and they vote themselves into Local 22 F the CITY

  2. Medic bob says:

    A sad day in this city. For it to a union town is a joke and a dishonestly to it’s citizens. This party the party of ass’s are making a mockery of the true back bone of the city the Fire and EMS services. I hope Local 22 gets it court order injunction. Pray to Saint Thomas Moore to give the judge the wisdom to know the diffence. God Bless.

  3. Ingineer66 says:

    I am not a fan of most public employee unions, but just because the City says that paramedics are not firemen should not mean they are out of the union. The freakin Longshoremans Union used to represent nurses at one of the hospitals here in town. It is whatever labor group that the paramedics want to represent them. So now will the paramedics have to bring in the NLRB and have an election to be represented by the IAFF? Or will they form their own union or join a different one like SEIU? This could backfire on the City. And like you said it is odd that a Democrat Mayor who is supposedly all about the unions is now taking on the unions.

  4. Dustoff says:

    My head is spinning… In WA state all paramedics must be fire fighters first.

    The NOT so funny part. It’s a dem do this.
    Hey IAFF you listening!

  5. Dustoff says:

    oops…
    It’s a dem doing this.

  6. Right now things are very fluid. The last thing anyone wants is a strike because they will probably be fired. (No representation). They are “At Will” employees now. The local democrat politicians have been shitting on us for my entire career.

    • Anthony says:

      Just a little retort to your comment. The Paramedics are NOT “at will” employees right now. This is an “at will” state, however, under the civil service regualtions they CANNOT be fired without just cause and they are entitled to a trial board for disciplinary issues.

      But we do definitely need more political support. Why is it that the Federal government recognizes that paramedics are “public safety employees” along with police and firefighters, but PA doesn’t. That’s a little non-progressive, especially since they are at risk everytime they are the first responders at Fire Scenes and Crime Scenes….it’s crazy. And, now the risk that they take is comprable to civilian administrative employees. Nice!

      • Anthony- we have been told verbally that the Medics are no longer represented employees and that in fact they were described as “At will”.
        They are no longer going to pay dues to local 22, they are not covered by our contract, the city is no longer contributing to their legal plan.
        “Just Cause” in this city is as thin as the paper it’s written on. They have no representation. A trial board is totally inadequate as the city always stacks the deck.

      • Spock says:

        Trial boards are a joke here. Just look at the Q43/L9 accident. The guys who “won” their trial boards got the same punishment as the guy who didn’t go to trial board, admitted wrong-doing, and tried to take blame for the entire incident. And, IIRC, I think the guy who got the least punishment “lost” his trial board.

        This department/city/administration will do what it wants, when it wants.

  7. Medic bob says:

    The ass party is not friend to public safety personel ESP. In this city from Wilson Goode, John Street, fast Eddie now with mayor nutterbutter. Time to vote the ass party out. At lest we know were the elephants stand but they would not have done a stupid thing like this.

    • madmike59 says:

      Unrealistic. No way to take the city back now. Get your time in and GET OUT! I would rather pay taxes in Jersey than live in a city run the way Philadelphia is. Can you see the tubes it is going down?

  8. Old NFO says:

    Y’all need to get the hell outta Philly before it implodes… Just sayin…

  9. Mike47 says:

    Hey Captain… just thinkin’. Why not respond by setting up a rotation program that rotates “firefighters” (Enginemen and Truckmen) into ambulances with a paramedic, and the “paramedics” into the engines and trucks. That eliminates any clear distinction between the two entities. Then let the City try to apply the policy!

    • Medic bob says:

      That will never happen. It was brought up before and shot down as fast as it was brought. EMS is the bastard step child in public safety in the city. Nobody wait it the PD did it before the FD was force to do it. I know I did 10 years and was forced out. I was a white male from the suburbs and an elephant. But I still love this department that was formed by Ben Franklin.

    • Mike- here’s the deal: EMS and firefighting are two different animals just like EMS and police work. Any combining of either degrades one or both. In our case EMS has nearly destroyed the fire department. It IS NOT A KNOCK AGAINST EMS.Just like plumbers and carpenters, electricians and masons. They are all SEPERATE BUT EQUAL skills.
      Firefighters generally don’t like EMS and Medics generally don’t like firefighting. Just because you stick needles in people doesn’t mean you want to drive a tractor trailor and use a chain saw. Just because you don’t mind getting up close and personal with fire and operating a pump doesn’t mean your the kind of person who likes to take blood pressures or defibrilate people.

      Plus our medics make more than firefighters. (10%). That would only benefit the city as they would eliminate the 10% and pay more qualified people less money.

      There is an old saying- “Jack of all trades, master of none”. That is true. For smaller departments without the crushing workloads or amount of fires we fight it may be practicle. But not for a major urban city like Philly. Too many members, too much training, too complicated logistically.

      • Dustoff says:

        OK Capt… kind of rubbing me the wrong way with the ff, medic thing. (-:
        I love EMS (IV’s) and such. Yet I’ll also get a kick out of being first in. As we all know, most of our calls the days are EMS.

  10. Bob G. says:

    Cap:
    “Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot???”
    They have GOT to be kidding.

    I’ve NEVER known a time when I lived in Philly, that medics were NOT part of the station houses they were assigned to.
    And this goes WAY back to the days when the firehouse “ambulance” was a red Chevy panel truck w/ sirens, lights and logos!

    MY nephew (with the DCFD) recently got into a flap when he ASKED a question about the recent rally in D.C. – He asked WHY the IAFF was there alongside KNOWN American Communist organizations.
    It turned into a personal attack on HIS integrity.
    Whatta load of BS!

    BTW, he’s a firefighter AND a paramedic (started his service in the EMT wagon)
    I told him about YOUR “rolling blackouts” with fire houses shutting down on certain days…he was like “NO WAY”…

    ALL this is FUBAR for sure!

    Stay the course.
    Never give in.
    Never give up.

    And stay safe.

  11. Dustoff- I have nothing against EMS. Or police work, or plumbing or carpentry. The point is they are all separate but equal. That’s all. If we were given guns and told to respond to crimes than most of our calls would be criminal in nature. There is just no comparison between firefighting and anything else.

  12. Anthony says:

    I disagree with some of your points Captain, however, the 10% savings made by 270 employees really wouldn’t add up to all that much the first time that a citizen sues for something that happened with a private paramedic. Unless, the city were to train all of those PRIVATE company paramedics. As I’m sure you know, most lawsuits against the city end up being a TRAINING issue. They don’t even want to cross-train the employees they currently have for supposed cost considerations.

    Also, in regards to the “at will” statement. I am a Medic and I can tell you that Civil Service regulations state that employees under the civil service umbrella are NOT “at will” employees and CANNOT be fired without just cause. Especially right now, if they were fire one of us without just cause that would be GREAT grounds for a suit.

    That’s not to say that they can’t get rid of us in other ways…..but we’ll see what happens. In regards to our Union Representation. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but they cannot stop our union payments willy nilly like that, it’s illegal.

    I really do not think that being in a seperate bargaining unit is such a bad idea, it’s the way it’s being done that I disagree with.

    Anyway, no more posts on here from me….appreciate the sentiment but not on the same page. Too much resentment and conjecture in your posts. Thanks.

    • Anthony – I don’t have any resentment toward the medics whatsoever. I’m coming up on nineteen years, did my squad rotation as a fireman and have thousands of shoe runs under my belt not to mention other locals. I have supervised some of the best street medics in the city (And some of the worst) and have nothing but respect for them and the thankless job they do. I don’t know how you can read what I wrote and take away anything but SUPPORT for the medics from it.

      I am merely stating the CITY’S position that THEY now DEEM YOU “AT WILL” employees. Of course they are being sued over this and as of TODAY the Union won an injunction to stop their changing of the contract.

      You have to understand a few things: 1) The city CONSTANTLY breaks the law. They ALWAYS do what they want and force us to sue them. Whether it’s fire, EMS, contract, promotions, you name it they break the law and don’t give a sh*t. That’s because they have nothing to lose, it’s taxpayers money being spent on lawyers who make campaign donations to them.

      2) FIRE BASED EMS is HORRIBLY MISMANAGED. That mismanagement hurts the medics as well as the firefighters and the general public. The system has to change. My post is an accurate reflection of the events that have transpired and the city’s attempt to destroy our union and quite possibly union medics in this city. There is open talk of privitization now.

      I’m sorry if you don’t want to come back that’s up to you, but the facts are the facts.
      Stay Safe out there.

  13. dragonladyrvrr says:

    Don’t understand what the mayor and the city hope to accomplish by messing with the one faction of its workers that is out there 24/7 saving lives and putting their own neck on the line for people they don’t even know. The city medics are the hardest working folk out there and they are being messed with the most. First the city screws them out of back pay, loses the lawsuit and to show what wonderful city government we have, goes out and messes up their work schedules. Now they pull this garbage, the medics are the very folk who will save their sorry butts when they get hurt or sick. This is obscene and an abuse of power by a very corrupt city government. These men/women are Fire Paramedics, they are required to wear scott packs and fire gear, they are required to take fire training and guess who go in if someone goes down. Cut the crap Mayor nutter, let these folk do their jobs, be paid fair and be treated with the respect they deserve!

  14. CHICAGO says:

    THIS JUST PROVES, THE TIME IS NOW FOR ALL UNIONS TO PULL THEIR HEADS OUT OF THE ASSES OF BLUE/RAT DEMOCRAT POLITICIANS LIKE NUTTER, STOP GOING DOOR TO DOOR TO GET BLUE/RATS ELECTED, AND ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF UNION DENSITY BY ORGANIZING,ORGANIZING,ORGANIZING AND MORE ORGANIZING. MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE UNION BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO WORKED SO HARD TO GET THAT RAT ELECTED, WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL RAT MAYOR.

  15. Dee Dee says:

    While I do not know all the in’s and out’s of the PFD and their contract, this is disturbing on so many levels. I have used philadelphia medic’s on many occasions in the past few years and they have always responded quickly and treated my family members with dignity. Luckily for me, I never needed a fire rescue. I agree with madmike59, vote them in, F the city!

  16. Dave says:

    EMS and firefighting are two different animals just like EMS and police work. Any combining of either degrades one or both.- Captain America

    I completely agree with this Captain, although I don’t agree that it is EMS that has lead to the ruination of the Fire Department. I think it is the union that has lead to the ruination of EMS service to the public in Philadelphia and this move, although drastic, is probably for the greater goods of the citizens.

    It opens the door for hospital based EMS providers, who’s sole function is to provide EMS to start covering 911 calls in the city at no additional cost to the city. This is something the union opposed vehemently even though their membership was overwhelmed and the citizenry suffered. This will mean that EMS professionals will not always be degraded by the presence of the Fire Department and its lack of funding for all things medical. Perhaps the additional funds the city can free up from allowing what the union opposed can be used to prevent firehouse brownouts and closures.

    Most importantly, maybe the city medics will finally get someone who will actually represent THEIR interests. Considering that Philly’s call volume type in 2007 for Medics was 257,363 ( via http://www.phila.gov/fire/about/about_statistics_fire_medic_reports.html) and for company runs was 137,342 (via http://www.phila.gov/fire/pdfs/compruns_06_07.pdf) that means that EMS is doing 87% MORE calls than the fire side, but only earn 10% more pay tells me that the union really does not have the medics best interests in mind.

    Of course, who really loses out on this is the union. 270 members paying just $10 a week in dues equates to a loss of $140,400 annually. That’s a pretty big chunk of change, and probably a trip to Aruba or two that they lost.

  17. C/A says:

    Dave- you are way off base when it comes to the situation here in Philly and I just want to set the record straight.

    Medics make 10% MORE than firefighters. With OT a Philly medic who is hungry can make 100K easily. The run totals are DEPARTMENT wide. SO while the medic run totals are 257K, THE FIRE SIDE DOES THOUSANDS OF EMS runs that aren’t included in the stats. Don’t forget nearly every EMS call gets a first responder company FIRST. So an busy engine company can do 4 THOUSAND runs a year. Doesn’t leave much time to work on those perishable fire fighting skills does it?

    The degradation of EMS has NOTHING to do with Local 22. Local 22’s job is to fight for improved working conditions and health and economic benefits as well as represent it’s members in disciplinary cases. Our medics make good money, have excellent health benefits and get representation every time the get into trouble. They are also being REPRESENTED IN THEIR PRESENT SITUATION BY THE LOCAL. Local 22 is NOT the problem in Philly’s EMS system. They have been busting their balls for YEARS trying to improve the system.

    The problem with Philly EMS is SQUARELY with the PFD. and the CITY PERIOD. They control staffing, protocol, response, equipment, training and just about every aspect of the job.
    If the city is successful in breaking local 22 they will try and privatize EMS in this city. The FIRST thing that will happen is SALARIES will GO DOWN. Professionalism will GO DOWN. Remember you will NOT be able to turn a PROFIT running EMS in this city due to the poverty rate. So where does that leave us? LOW BID EMS! That’s where. AMR or Rural Metro won’t take the BADLANDS with all the violent crime we have. They’ll take the nice sections with people who pay their bills. HALF of Philly lives at or below the poverty line and uses 911 as their primary health care provider.
    IRONIC- Obama wants MORE government health care control TO SAVE MONEY and Nutter wants to privatize EMS TO SAVE MONEY!

    The reasons our system is overwhelmed is because 1) the department INSISTS on transporting everyone who wants it. 2) They refuse to hire enough medics to handle the call volume. Simple math. 3) The refuse to call screen. 4) the refuse to divide the system sensibly between ALS & BLS. We should have about 40-50 BLS units backed up by 20 ALS. Not the unions fault at all. I don’t mean EMS as a discipline has destroyed the fire side. I mean the Fire departments adoption of EMS and then it’s mismanagement of EMS has led to the degradation of EMS AND FIREFIGHTING. Hope that clears things up.

  18. I’m on vacation, Denny, but I heard our office was FLOODED with job applications this week. I’ll take all the medics I can use, but this ABSOLUTELY STINKS!!! tell me again why the Republican Party in Philly exists in name only? What’s that I smell? Smells like HOT TEA brewing in the city,….

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