Austin City Council approved Thursday a temporary contract with Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, months after negotiations between the city and the agency had reached an impasse.
The interim agreement reinstates the previous 2013 contract and allows it to expire in September. City officials hope they will be able to agree on a four-year contract by then.
Among other issues, the two sides could not agree on how much of a salary increase employees should receive. The interim contract will cover the time before the city receives a revised study to determine if Austin’s medics are being compensated appropriately for a city of its size. The study expected to be completed in June.
“This we see as a placeholder and an opportunity to move onto real issues … that promote the stability and retention of our EMS ranks,” said Tony Marquardt, president of the Austin-Travis County EMS union.
Most members of the union approved the interim agreement Wednesday.
Marquardt has expressed interest in producing a contract that allows EMS to only hire credentialed paramedics in the future. Currently, the service is only required to hire emergency medical technicians, positions that require less training.
The interim contract will reinstate special stipends for employees, such as an additional $150 a month for bilingual employees and $150 a month for employees who have bachelor’s degrees.
Marquardt expressed frustration in October, after the sides reached an impasse, saying that the city was not taking its contract negotiations with Austin-Travis County EMS as seriously as its negotiations with Austin’s police and fire departments. City officials disagreed, stating that the monetary difference between the city’s offer and the EMS union’s proposed salary increase was too large to reconcile.