FDNY EMS members boycott Hometown Heroes ticker-tape parade
'Members who are not paid will not attend,' union head said of event meant to honor COVID-19 emergency workers as pay bargaining continues with mayor's office
Statements, tributes and parades that honor EMS, as well as other essential workers, are always welcome, but continue to ring hollow when EMTs and paramedics struggle to live on paltry wages and manage the cumulative effects of job-related stress. Read more in this analysis by Lexipol Editorial Director Greg Friese, MS, NRP: "Disrespect for NYC EMS is disrespect for EMS everywhere."
By Jessie Forand
NEW YORK — Wednesday's Hometown Heroes ticker-tape parade, thrown by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be missing many of those it is meant to honor.
The New York Daily News reported Tuesday night that members of FDNY EMS will not march unless they are on duty.
Uniformed EMS Officers Union head Vincent Variale said members who aren't paid will not attend.
“Our members have been without a contract for more than three years and did not receive any hazard pay during COVID. This mayor continues to disrespect EMS and all frontline responders and uses all of us for a public relations photo opportunity," he said.
Others, including city correction officers, probation officers and a Brooklyn City Council member will opt out, too, and nearly all members of the city's largest municipal union, District Council 37, said they would boycott the parade.
According to the Daily News, only Local 1508, representing the uniformed Parks Department supervisors, planned to attend.
The boycott is meant to shed light on ongoing pushes for better pay - contractless paramedics and EMTs have been bargaining with de Blasio's administration.
“It is not the recognition we need, especially for FDNY EMS responders, who make just $16.95 per hour to start," Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union, said of the parade. “A parade does not supply a home or food on the table for these workers and their families."
Participating is the equivalent of crossing a picket line, he said.
Disrespect for NYC EMS is disrespect for EMS everywhere
New York City and other communities need to show their respect for paramedics, EMTs through pay equity
A ceremony scheduled to follow the parade was canceled, according to a spokesperson for de Blasio.
The Daily News reported that starting salary for an FDNY EMT is $35,254; it can increase to $50,000 in five years. An FDNY firefighter can make more than $100,000 annually after five years with overtime and holiday pay.