Mayor de Blasio's announcement of a July 7 tickertape parade down Broadway to honor health-care workers and first- responders for their service during the pandemic was jeered by the Emergency Medical Service who insist they would rather have pay parity with other uniformed employees.
Mr. de Blasio said at his June 14 press briefing, "No one is ever going to forget the ones we lost and what families are still going through, but we need a day to celebrate the heroism of everyday New Yorkers. A parade you will remember for the rest of your life."
Says No to Juneteenth
On June 17, President Biden signed bipartisan legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The next day, Mayor de Blasio told Brian Lehrer during his WNYC call in show, city workers would not get the day off. He said it would have cost the city $150 million and that covering such an expense needed to be negotiated with the unions.
"Mayor de Blasio once again demonstrates his hypocrisy," wrote Vincent Variale, president of District Council 37's Local 3621, which represents the EMS Officers. "Last year, he said he would make Juneteenth a paid holiday. Now, he refuses to pay city employees for a Juneteenth holiday. Actions speak louder than words Mr. Mayor."
He continued, "It's the same with FDNY EMS, he preaches fairness and equality but when it comes time for action he fails to deliver. He would rather spend millions on a parade than to pay a living wage."
Oren Barzilay, the president of Emergency Medical Technicians Local 2507, told the New York Post that "4,300 of 4,300 of us at the FDNY EMS agree that essential workers should be celebrated for their immense efforts during the pandemic. "However, it is the height of hypocrisy, and irresponsible, to treat New York City's heroic EMTs, Paramedics and Fire inspectors as indentured servants."
Claim Race, Gender Bias
Both unions are suing the city for race- and gender-based pay discrimination, claiming members are paid far less than cops and firefighters because they are primarily people of color. After 5½ years, maximum EMS pay is $50,604, compared to a Firefighter maximum of $85,292.
Similar gaps exist for EMS with the NYPD, the Correction Department and the Department of Sanitation. The bias argument founders, however, in looking at correction officers, who have parity with cops and firefighters and are roughly 90 percent people of color. The real problem regarding EMS pay is that salary levels for uniformed jobs were established in collective bargaining in the 1960s, when the service was part of the Health and Hospitals Corporation and hiring requirements were less rigid than for other uniformed jobs.
The firefighting side of the FDNY is 78 percent white and over 99 percent male. By contrast, the EMS ranks are 46 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic, 21 percent black and 5 percent Asian. Close to a third of those workers are female.
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