Protests boosted as Cleveland officials renew challenge to EMS contract
Union members expressed outrage and urged support for a picket march after the city again challenged an arbitration ruling in court
By Laura French
CLEVELAND — Cleveland’s EMS union is doubling down on requests for supporters to join them in protests after officials announced they will again challenge a 2016 collective bargaining agreement in court.
“If we had to describe the current mood of the membership, we would have to use words such as outraged and furious,” said a CARE Local 1975 Facebook post on Friday. “Clearly, this administration, specifically Mayor Jackson, acting Chief of Staff Dumas, and Commissioner Carlton, does not care about the 266 EMS providers who have continued to provide exemplary prehospital care without interruption throughout this entire 4 year process.”
On Monday, EMS providers and supporters held a sit-in protest at a city council meeting to bring awareness to delays in contract renegotiation. The collective bargaining agreement would have provided staff with increased wages, better shifts and mental health protections, and has been repeatedly challenged by officials.
Paid leave for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders has been a major focus in the legal battle over the agreement. An abitrator ruled to keep paid leave for mental health injuries in the pending contract, a decision that was most recently upheld on Dec. 13, 19 News reported. The city said Friday that it will be appealing that ruling, putting contract negotiations on further hold.
“Due to the nature of their jobs and the traumatic events they witness, EMS providers are 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide than the general public,” a sample letter for the union’s email campaign states. “I am astounded that the City of Cleveland continues to wage an expensive legal battle against mental health protections for those who are there for us in our worst hour.”
CARE Local 1975 is now calling for continued support from the Cleveland community and urging attendance at a picket parade scheduled for Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 in front of city hall.
“Together, we intend to show the Jackson Administration that EMS is more than a line-item on a budget; it’s a group of selfless medical professionals who deserved our respect and support,” the union's Facebook post concluded.