Union Busting in Philadelphia. The State Labor Relations Board Rules that Paramedics CANNOT be Members of the Philadelphia Firefighters Unioin.

Hat tip to The Ambulance Driver for this story (here).

Philadelphia paramedics are getting the boot from the State Labor Relations Board. The paramedics will no longer be allowed to be members of the Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22 because they are not cross-trained in firefighting.

Update: I missed this when originally doin the story: Philadelphia council joins paramedics’ suit – Hat tip to SR for the link

The story is best told by the author of the First In blog (who is a Captain in Philadelphia). First In is a blog I have followed for years. It might not be a daily reader, but always has interesting articles.

First In article here. He gives some great insight on his feelings of this ruling.

First In Blog:

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.

I just wonder if a few changes to the Philadelphia Firefighters Union Constitution and Bylaws and possibly the change of name to Philadelphia Firefighters and Paramedics Union. I am not a huge fan of the name change, but it the outcome is positive and they really want the paramedics incorporated then it seems like a no brainer. I imagine the issue isn’t quite that simple though!

Photo from First In Blog

October 4, 2010
TO : All PFD Fire Service Paramedics
REF/AUTHORITY : Fire Commissioner

[the emphasis below is mine (FC)]

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.

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