Austin-Travis EMS work contract talks to resume after impasse


Highlights

The Austin City Council directed the city to resume labor contract negotiations with Austin-Travis County EMS.

Negotiations had gone into an impasse last week after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement in time.

Negotiations over the employment contract for Austin and Travis County medics will resume now after the Austin City Council voted Thursday to direct city officials back to the table.

The talks reached an impasse last week when, after months of discussions, the two sides could not reach a final agreement on Oct. 30. Representatives with EMS asked for more time, but Interim City Manager Elaine Hart said she didn’t think they could close the nearly $8 million difference between the two sides’ proposals.

However, because of the council’s vote on Thursday, negotiations are now to slated to resume.

In the meantime, the council also decided that all provisions of the previous EMS contract should stay in place until the two sides come to an agreement.

ALSO READ: In new contract, police agree to more accountability for higher raises

“We appreciate City Council’s involvement and support on the matters related to the EMS contract,” said Anthony Marquardt, president of the Austin-Travis County EMS union. “They have shown by resolution today the support for the frontline staff. We are hopeful that this will eventually lead to resuming negotiations centered on improving the working conditions and appropriate compensation for recruiting, hiring and retaining highly qualified EMS professionals to continue to enhance our delivery model to serve our community and its many visitors.”

City officials were offering a 10.5 percent raise over five years through various forms, such as across-the-board raises or stipends for employees who had higher education degrees or took on nights shifts, Larry Watts, with the city’s Labor Relations Department, told the American-Statesman.

“We were pretty much open to however they wanted to divide up the money,” Watts said.

Watts told the City Council last week that this compares to a 12 percent raise offered to the Austin Police Department over five years and a 6.5 percent raise offered to the Austin Fire Department over five years.

This was not acceptable, Marquardt said, because he and other EMS officials feel that medics deserve salaries that are comparable to what Austin’s firefighters and police officers make. After a year with each department, for instance, medics make $41,867, firefighters make $56,588, and police make $65,850, according to city data.

NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX: Click here to get our Morning Headlines email

Hart told the City Council last week that she let the negotiations reach an impasse because the city couldn’t offer any more than it was offering without dipping into reserves.

“I regret that we got to this place,” Hart said. “It’s unfortunate. It is not meant to harm our employees in any way because we all value what they do every day, and it’s a critical service that they provide. But I have to stay within my budgetary limits.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Cross-country team cleans up overflowing trash in elderly couple’s yard
Cross-country team cleans up overflowing trash in elderly couple’s yard

A high school cross-country team in upstate New York helped an elderly couple take out the trash Saturday -- lots of it. Ann and Robert Dobson live in the Rochester suburb of Greece. For more than six years, garbage from a nearby shopping plaza has blown onto the Dobsons’ front yard, Rochester First reported "Last summer when I cleaned...
Round Rock officer struck by car, seriously injured
Round Rock officer struck by car, seriously injured

A Round Rock police officer was struck and seriously injured Sunday morning while directing traffic around a crash along Interstate 35, officials said. Round Rock police responded to a call this morning about a pedestrian walking near I-35. When officers arrived on scene, there was a body in the roadway, Round Rock police officials said. Northbound...
College student discovers true paternity in science class
College student discovers true paternity in science class

One woman got a whole lot more than she paid for in a college science class when she uncovered a nasty family secret. The unnamed student discovered that her father — the man who had raised her since she was a child and who she called “dad” for her entire life — wasn’t really her father. He was her uncle. And the...
FORECAST: Thunderstorms could bring hail Sunday morning
FORECAST: Thunderstorms could bring hail Sunday morning

The Austin area could see some thunderstorms on Sunday, with rainfall likely according to the National Weather Service. Isolated thunderstorms could produce large hail over Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Lee, Hays and surrounding counties, with the chance of storms dwindling in the afternoon and evening hours, according to the weather service. The chance...
Traffic report for Monday, Feb. 26

Interstate 35 (Travis County): The northbound outside lane will be closed between Boggy Creek and Stassney Lane from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights. The William Cannon exit will be closed as needed. The southbound outside lane will be closed between Stassney and Boggy Creek from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights. Reduced...
More Stories