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May 22, 2019
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Letter Regarding Paramedic/EMT OT
Posted On: May 07, 2019
Fire Chief Inks,

I'm submitting this letter to you today on behalf of all the dedicated men and women of the Saint Paul Fire Department. This appeal is a request for your Administration to reverse the policy of hiring overtime and how it is negatively impacting the Paramedic workforce. The practice of only ordering a FF/EMT and bypassing all FF/Paramedics before all EMT options are exhausted is not worth the negative impact this has had on morale.

In a perfect vacuum we can see how this practice could potentially save the Fire Department $100,000/year in a $70 million budget. However, after several weeks it is very obvious that this is not working the way it was intended. For example, today we were looking for 4 FF/EMTs preordered for Tuesday. Overtime callers bypassed 20 qualified firefighters that maintain a Paramedic designation. 20 firefighters were not given an equal opportunity to work because they are qualified beyond an EMT designation. This is upsetting to the Local 21 Membership and all members of the Executive Board are fielding multiple phone calls/emails/complaints on a daily basis. This is a substantial blow to ALL of the men and women that make up the Saint Paul Fire Department. The savings don't add up.

For example, take a 5 Year FF/EMT versus a 5 Year FF/Paramedic difference in pay. The Fire Department saves $52.80 in a 24 hour shift. However, both Fire Administration and Union Leadership know that we are not able to fill all of the overtime spots daily with just ordering EMTs. Therefore the projected savings are unlikely to add up to $100,000 and at the cost of substantially damaging morale. We believe going back to the seniority based method of hiring OT is a minimal price to pay in effort to salvage a rapidly diminishing morale. It is also more fair and equitable.

When have we ever bypassed and not given an equal opportunity to an entire group even if they are qualified to work? Is your Administration willing to hang their hats on a hypothetical cost savings of 0.1% in a $70 million budget at the costly expense of support and buy-in from the Membership?

I'm optimistic that you see this as an opportunity where our feedback and pulse of the Membership is of value to you. We are asking you to reconsider your policy and revert overtime hiring to the way it was before.

Respectfully,

Local 21 Chair Officers
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