Pittsburgh and paramedics union agree to new contract
Pittsburgh paramedics will begin working 12-hour shifts, expand their coverage areas and receive 17.3 percent pay increases on average with four hours of overtime built into hourly rates, according to a contract recently approved by the city and paramedics union.
The contract takes effect Jan. 2. It includes an optional five-year extension and a clause that would scale back paramedics’ base pay should overtime costs exceed $4.3 million. Medics would receive a three percent increase if that happens.
A paramedic with five years of service would receive a pay increase from $27.54 an hour to $32.32 under the contract. The same paramedic would be paid 28.37 under a 3 percent pay increase.
Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the 12-hour shifts and pay increases were approved to cut down on forced overtime and expand paramedic coverage. He said it would help morale and boost recruitment efforts.
“The overtime is built into their base pay. That’s why it looks like they’re getting a 17.3 percent pay raise,” he said. “There would be days where we would be forcing four to five people to work overtime. There are sometimes up to eight a day. It was getting ridiculous. People could not live a normal life.”
The city employs 161 paramedics and 24 emergency medical technicians.
Hissrich said the 12-hour shifts would allow the city to provide 24-hour coverage to all areas, including river rescue, and restore 24-hour service in Brighton Heights, Hays and Homewood.
Union membership approved the contract by a 129-28 vote, according to the city. Jeff Tremel, president of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics Union Local 1, did not return a call seeking comment.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobbauder.