Mayor Michael Nutter and City Councilman Jim Kenney are at odds about whether paramedics should remain part of the firefighters’ union. At Thursday’s City Council session, Kenney said Nutter’s insistence that paramedics aren’t firefighters, or eligible for union membership, is a vindictive affront to public servants. Being part of the union would also give medics the right to strike, which they currently can’t.
“Do I think they will? Probably not. They’re dedicated public servants who won’t walk away from us like the administration is walking away from them,” said Kenney, who introduced a resolution on the issue. “I’m asking as a public servant to sit down and work this out. I doubt he will listen.”
Nutter based his response on a state Labor Relations Board ruling spurred by a federal lawsuit which gave medics back overtime pay because they aren’t technically firefighters. He said any thought that he’s being vindictive is “absolutely incorrect.”
“They asked for something and got it, we paid out millions in overtime, and they found themselves in a far different situation than intended,” said Nutter.
IAFF Local 22 President Bill Gault said about 140 of the estimated 210 city paramedics signed, indicating they want to remain in the union. He called Nutter’s move “union busting.”
“Firefighters and medics are all part of the team that gets the job done,” Gault said. “Right now, we’re in bizarro world.”
Kenney has asked Sen. Mike Stack whether the state can intervene. The union’s attorney, Richard Poulson, expects to file a status-quo injunction today in an effort to force the City to negotiate.