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Adams, Kavanagh express support for EMS pay parity

Contract negotiations yet to begin


When Eric Adams was running in the Democratic Party primary for mayor in 2021, he received the endorsement of District Council 37’s Local 2507, which represents the FDNY’s EMTs, paramedics and fire protection inspectors. Adams, who as a retired NYPD captain is a former first responder himself, responded by pledging to address the decades-long disparity in salaries between those in EMS and other first responders. 

“Our EMTs, paramedics, and fire inspectors deserve our city’s thanks and respect, but for years they have been shamefully denied basic pay equity,” the mayor in waiting said in response to the endorsement. “As mayor, I will not stand for discrimination against workers, especially not the women and men who have put their lives at risk to save ours day after day.” 

More than two years into Adams' tenure, workers at FDNY EMS are among the very few municipal employees who have not yet secured a new collective bargaining agreement. Given the deals accorded to other first responders, the members of Local 2507 and the EMS officer's union are even further from achieving pay parity than they were three years ago. 

But earlier this month, Adams reiterated his desire to correct the EMS’ workers' pay inequality.  In response to a question at a March 12 press conference, Adams said that his objective was to “rectify and correct” pay discrepancies among the city’s various first responder services.  

“The goal is to look at all of these inequities and start peeling back those inequities,” the mayor said, adding that he could rectify any similar remaining pay injustices if he gets a second term. “It is definitely on my radar, it is on my to‑do list of how to correct some of those inequities.”  

‘Talk is cheap’ 

Oren Barzilay, the president of Local 2507, said he appreciated the mayor’s comments but noted that no action has been taken yet to rectify EMS workers’ pay disparity and that bargaining with the city has yet to begin. 

"Nobody's actually doing anything,” Barzilay said. "We hope that when we get to the [negotiating] table this won't be a dance that we have to do and once and for all they'll acknowledge that EMS as a career is a true profession, that we save lives."  

Top pay for FDNY EMTs is under $60,000 a year and paramedics top out at around $76,000, according to Local 2507. City firefighters make more than $110,000 according to the terms of the deal struck with the city last year. 

“Talk is cheap, those comments and $2.90 get me on the subway,” Anthony Almojera, a lieutenant paramedic and vice president of DC 37 Local 3621 the Uniformed EMS Officers union, said of Adams’ comments. “They can change this at any time.” 

Almojera said that the FDNY’s EMS service is at a crisis point, with morale across the city’s EMS stations at deep lows while workers nonetheless respond to record numbers of 911 calls. “Everyone is dejected,” he said. "The number one phrase that’s uttered back to me when I say ‘hey how's it going?’ is ‘I'm just doing my time.’... It’s like they’re in prison.” 

Days after Adams addressed EMS pay parity, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh was asked about the mayor’s comments by a City Council member, and she too reiterated her support for the beleaguered EMS service. 

“You and me and the mayor all agree that EMS should be paid more,” Kavanagh said during a budget hearing. “I think that’s been a pretty consistent message of mine and I’ve fought for that in all of our past contract negotiations, but we continue to see [EMS workers] being paid less than any of us would want to see.” 

The commissioner also mentioned that she was concerned about retention in the service and said that EMS members have been “responding with the same dedication and swiftness they always have,” despite the exhausting work. 

Kavanagh doesn’t have influence over the Office of Labor Relations and FDNY members’ labor contracts in the same way that Adams does, but both Barzilay and Almojera said that the commissioner, who was appointed by Adams, could influence the mayor to push OLR to give FDNY EMS a better deal.  

“Kavanagh needs to express to the mayor that this needs to be fixed, that he needs to instruct [OLR] to stop playing games with us when we get to the table,” Barzilay said. “This city should do the right thing for our men and women.” 

Almojera said achieving pay parity for FDNY EMS would cement the legacies of both Kavanagh and Adams and give New York City a truly sustainable EMS service 

The city and the EMS unions won’t bargain for a successor contract until the two sides resolve a dispute over a new EMS-sergeant position created as part of the two EMS unions’ last labor deal. Officials in the EMS officers union have already met once with the city’s labor negotiators to discuss the position and Vincent Variale, the president of Local 3621, told The Chief Friday that he’s hopeful the two sides will reach a settlement by the middle of next month.  

At that point, the two EMS unions will be able to come to the bargaining table together and bargain with the city for a new contract. “We're looking to settle this so we can start negotiations on a new contract which is going to be the contract for parity,” Almojera said. 


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  • Local2507

    As a 26-year veteran of EMS, I fully support the demand by the Local 2507 & 3621 for Pay Parity. It is long overdue! It was 1984 when this demand was first put on the negotiating table. As Secretary-Treasurer and part of the negotiating team, I was there. And after EMS workers, 23 years ago, were defined by City Council law in 2001 as a "uniformed service" there is no justification for anything less than Pay Parity with the other "uniformed service" workers. I hope the resolution of the Sergeant position gets resolved quickly so their negotiations for Pay Parity can begin.

    But, I can't help but raise alarm about the Mayor's words about EMS workers deserving respect and pay equity. He said similar words to all of the City Retirees when he was running for Mayor proclaiming the plan in process, at that time, to remove the 250,000 City Retirees from their traditional Medicare and put them into a Medicare Advantage Plan. He called that a "bait and switch" which he opposed. After several Court decisions affirming our traditional Medicare with Supplement is valid, the Mayor continues to reject it and appeal every time the Judge has ruled in our favor. So, simply be wary of his words!!

    Mike Stein

    Retired for 24 years

    Thursday, March 28 Report this