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Texas paramedics, EMTs win challenge to unionize

San Marcos Hays County EMS paramedics, EMTs vote to form a union


San Marcos Hays County EMS/Facebook

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the Hays County EMS Association is not joining the Austin EMS Association as reported by Fox 7 Austin. Kenny Pailes, Communications Chair of the Austin EMS Association, confirmed the information and provided correct information from the Communications Workers of America below to EMS1.

By Bill Carey

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — Paramedics and EMTs in Hays County are celebrating a labor victory after winning a vote to unionize.

San Marcos Hays County EMS (SMHCEMS) employees voted to form the Hays County EMS Association union, Fox 7 Austin reported.

“The workers also received strong support from Austin EMS Association (CWA Local 6914) members, which was crucial to their success. They will now join CWA Local 6914 as a new chapter, the Hays County EMS Association,” the Communications Workers of America stated.” CWA District 6 staff hope to support Local 6914’s continued expansion by organizing more groups of EMS workers around Texas.”

“As Hays County continues to grow, our agency needs to continue to grow as well,” Paramedic Tomás Maia said. “I think a necessary component of that is having an association to protect the interests of the employees so that we can better serve our community.”

SMHCEMS EMTs and paramedics started organizing in December 2022 over growing concerns and stalled wages. 

Attorneys argued that the workers should not be able to unionize and that they should be considered public employees due to the nature of the work and SMHCEMS’ status as a private company. The workers challenged that claim and won in a National Labor Relations Board hearing.

“Bargaining surveys have already started going out,” Maia said. “When you have a collective bargaining agreement in place, those benefits become locked in. It is just a better way to ensure that employees get the benefits that they deserve.”