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Wash. EMTs, paramedics threaten to strike over contract negotiations

Union members in Spokane County are voting to strike if an agreement with AMR is not reached



By Bill Carey

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — EMTs and paramedics in Spokane County could go on strike as early as July 17 if a contract agreement is not settled.

The union contract for American Medical Response Spokane lapsed on June 30. Meetings between the two sides have yet to reach an agreement, leading the members of Teamsters Local 690 to prepare to strike, KREM reported.

Union members began a number of votes to decide on the strike on Tuesday. Two more votes are scheduled for Thursday.

The union held informational pickets earlier to call attention to contract negotiations. “It’s one, to let the company know that we’re serious about negotiations, and the other is to engage the public, to let the public know what’s going on with our EMTs and our paramedics that are on the road every day,” Teamsters Local 690 Business Agent Joe Kuhn told KXLY.

Kuhn said wages and overtime are the two difficulties in the contract negotiations. Paramedics start at a little over $22/hour, and EMTs start at $17.62/hour.

AMR provided KREM with a statement:

“American Medical Response (AMR) Spokane is working closely with Teamsters Local 690 as we prepare for additional upcoming negotiations. AMR Spokane’s goal in these negotiations is to ensure both organizations find an agreeable middle ground that enables our valued first responders and other employees to receive a market-comparable agreement that also ensures a financially sustainable system for the future.”

A federal mediator is expected to step in on July 17.