2018-07-11 / Front Page

LCEMS, union begin contract negotiations

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER COUNTY — Contract negotiations between Lapeer County EMS and the union representing its 80 EMTs and paramedics are moving forward this year.

“We’re pretty close on the whole thing,” said Nate Morris Smith, president of IAEP (International Association of EMTs and Paramedics) Local R7-774. “Everybody seems pretty content. We’re competitive with surrounding agencies.”

At this point, it seems the hardest thing to do is coordinate the schedules of the union’s national negotiator from Connecticut and the agency’s labor attorney. While the current three-year pact between the two expires Aug. 6, Smith said the IAEP and LCEMS have agreed to extend the contract to Oct. 1.

“At this point,” said Smith, “we’ve just begun talks, but the union is excited to continue working with management at the table. Thus far, things have remained positive and we’re hopeful this can be a collaborative effort so the employees, the agency and the public all benefit from the agreement ultimately crafted.”

While the LCEMS board met in closed session at its June 21 meet to discuss an unfair labor practices complaint filed by the union, LCEMS Executive Director Russ Adams said the board held off on taking any action and he believes the issue will be resolved before negotiations end.

Smith agreed saying, “Steps are being taken to resolve this without going to a hearing.” He added during the three-year life of the current agreement, “maybe six grievances were filed and we’ve never gone to arbitration.”

Adams said this year’s negotiations seem to be “the usual things — money, procedures.” He said doesn’t see any major sticking points.

Smith said he’s hopeful too.

It was a different story when IAEP first represented LCEMS’ EMT and paramedics in 2012. Smith said it took two and one-half years for the parties to hammer out the first agreement.

This time, he said, it’s more of a question of “tweaking.”

Adams said LCEMS is looking for a three-year contract to coincide with the expiration of the countywide ambulance millage.

Smith said the two sides are looking to meet sometime in August. “The IAEP,” he said, “is working hard with its members and the management team. We look forward to our future discussions at the table.”

While the IAEP is a public sector union, which means it’s illegal for them to go on strike, Smith noted “We’ve never taken a work action. We like the harmoniousness.”

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