A group of local EMTs say they’re underpaid and plan to protest their working conditions.
In three years, the Mohawk EMS salary has gone up less than $1. Their union is keeping all the options open, which include an upcoming protest and possible strike if contract negotiations continue to stall.
“The starting wage at Mohawk Ambulance has only gone up once in six years,” labor relations representative Daniel Shuttig said.
With shifts that can last 24 hours or more, Mohawk EMS crews are comparing their working conditions to sweat shops. With negotiations entering the sixth month, the union is taking a stand.
“The employer Mohawk Ambulance in this particular case doesn’t seem like they want to get a contract done or pay their employees anything more,” Shuttig said.
Shuttig represents the EMS union workers who will soon protest their working conditions. He’s also worked for Mohawk during his 18-year career as a paramedic.
“They have still not offered employees any type of wage package at all,” he said. “They have not offered them any raise.”
In a statement to NEWS10 ABC, the president of Mohawk Ambulance Service said the wages were agreed on by the workers three years ago during the last round of contract negotiations:
“Mohawk Ambulance Service is currently engaged in negotiations with its employee union. Wages and benefits are part of these negotiations. It is the company’s hope that an agreement will be reached in the near future and we will continue to work toward this goal.
Existing wage rates were not unilaterally imposed by Mohawk Ambulance Service; they were agreed to with the Union during negotiations three years ago. The company has made every attempt to meet with the Union’s Bargaining Unit, but talks were delayed by the employee union. With progress in mind, a meeting between the company and the union is scheduled for later this month.
As always, we are committed to offering all employees fair wages, a comprehensive and affordable benefits package, training opportunities, a safe workplace and stable employment. Our employees, and their compassionate work, are what make Mohawk Ambulance Service great. We will continue to work with them, and support them for the benefit of all within this company, and within the communities we serve.”
“When you pay $12.51 an hour, it produces chronic staffing shortages, which require these guys to work more and more hours,” Shutting said.
Shuttig said the long hours are not only bad for the workers but for the patients.
“There was a Mohawk Ambulance that was involved in a fatal collision in which the patient died and the driver of the ambulance fell asleep.”
He said that other crashes have taken place due to the long hours. He said workers barely getting by is no longer good enough.
“We have several employees that have to rely on public assistance just to get by,” he said.
Shuttig said the town of Colonie has the highest paid EMS. Mohawk is one of the least paid but has one of the highest workloads in the Capital Region.