Via FDNY EMS Local 2507
Members of FDNY EMS Local 2507 have voted overwhelmingly by a margin of 2,610 (98.8%) to 32 (1.2%) to ratify a retroactive wage agreement with the City of New York to boost salaries. While the new contract provides some relief for its members, compensation for EMS first responders remains significantly lower than that of their counterparts within the FDNY as well as other uniform service such as police.
Nearly 64.5% of the union’s 4,100 current active members voted in the election overseen by the American Arbitration Association. The agreement, which expires June 2022, covers New York City’s emergency medical first responders – Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics in the FDNY EMS, as well as the agency’s fire inspectors.
With the ratification, the wage increase, which is determined by years of seniority, will be directly funded via EMS members working an extra 130 hours annually, going from a scheduled 1,957 hours (37.5-hour week) to 2,088 hours (40-hour week).
The starting salary for an EMT will be $39,385, with fringe benefits. Comparatively, a firefighter’s starting salary is $45,196. After five years, that EMS worker will earn $68,700, with fringe benefits, while their firefighter counterpart will more than double their salary to earn $110,294.
“This administration has long undervalued and undercompensated New York City’s talented medical first responders. It’s time for that to change,” said Oren Barzilay, president of FDMY EMS Local 2507. “The ratification of this retroactive wage agreement helps put a little extra on our members’ tables, but it does nothing to resolve the underlying discriminatory practices of pay disparity the city engages in when it comes to valuing and paying the mostly white and male side of the FDNY and the more diverse EMS side of the same department. Despite risking our lives day after day throughout the pandemic, responding to hundreds of thousands of medical distress calls to 911, which were all handled by FDNY EMS, and saving the lives of countless New Yorkers, this administration continues to treat us as less important and less valuable. How quickly they forget!”
Even before the pandemic overwhelmed New York City, heroic FDNY EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors were the backbone of New York’s medical first responder network. Local 2507 members responded to 1,531,870 calls in 2019, the equivalent of caring for one in six New Yorkers. This included calls related to ensuring the protection and health of others, whether to help victims of stabbings, shootings, drug overdoses, heart attack, stroke, building collapses or HazMat situations. Then COVID struck, and call volumes skyrocketed.
The city has refused to provide the city’s medical first responder workforce, comprised mostly of women and minorities, anything that approximated pay parity with the FDNY. At the same time, EMS is being compelled to assume the duties of the current mayor’s mental health program being rolled out citywide, and which is currently in the portfolio of NYPD.
For years, the FDNY EMS has been facing a significant employee retention crisis, as 50% of EMTs were quitting after just three years on the job and 70% were leaving for other jobs and careers by the fifth year.