‘A shameful day’: Austin EMS Association blasts city’s 14-cent pay raise for providers

The association's president said the decision is discouraging to providers who have worked through difficult events, such as the pandemic and the 2021 Texas snowstorm


By Rachel Engel

AUSTIN, Texas — City leaders have received blowback after offering a 14-cent pay raise to EMS providers, the first pay negotiation since 2018, KVUE reported

The Austin EMS Association said the announcement was a “shameful day” for the city. The association also changed its Twitter name to “WorthMoreThan14Cents.”

“Austin medics have not negotiated for new pay since 2018,” the association tweeted. “A lot has happened here since then … like, a lot a lot. Today, as thanks for our services, the City offered us a 14 cent raise. We know our worth, and, well, that ain’t it. What a shameful day for our lovely town.”

Selena Xie, the association’s president, is discouraged by the announcement, particularly after the work put in by providers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic Texas snowstorm in early 2021.

“I was very, very disappointed and I mean, you know, unfortunately, we’re 25% down right now, and a lot of people voiced extreme frustration and that many people want to quit because of the disrespect shown today,” she said.

Despite the pushback, city leaders defended the offer, claiming the “total package was a 51% increase in new money compared to the last contract they approved [in 2018].” A city statement said that "the entry-level pay for paramedics would be more than 5% higher than any other governmental entity in Texas" if accepted.

City officials also lamented that the union is “refusing to provide a counteroffer” to the “unprecedented pay package.”

Xie said the union has not refused to counter.

“It's taken them five months to give us their first offer, and they are upset that we did not respond within the day with a counteroffer. So that entitlement and arrogance is shocking, honestly," she said. "When they say that their pay package is 50% more, it is because we received a very, very low pay package in 2018."

According to a statement by the city, "using the current pay structure, over the next four years, the offer on the table would provide a 15% increase to 70% of the employees and a 24% pay increase to 29% of the employees. "

"Our paramedics are the amongst the highest paid in the nation by the end of their career," the statement continued. "We value our medics and will continue to do what we can as a City to attract and retain the best medics for our citizens, but we are unable to meet their request for a 55% base wage increase over four years and must remain fiscally responsible."

Xie expects to enter into a mediation situation when the current EMS contracts ends in September. 

"At this point, we need federal mediators to help us work through our issues because we are just too far apart. The federal government through the FMCS, they actually provide folks that can help work out labor negotiations on a lot of different topics," she said.

 

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