Pharr EMS pushes for union at city council meeting

Pharr EMS pushes for union at city council meeting
2 months 2 days 1 hour ago Tuesday, May 21 2024 May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024 9:45 AM May 21, 2024 in News - Local

Pharr EMS wants to form a union with the Communications Workers of America.

They tried to make the announcement during public comment at the Pharr City Council meeting on Monday night.

"Employees here at Pharr EMS would like to formally state we'd like to start a union, and we are here to advise you guys that we are here to start a union," licensed paramedic Patrick Andrade said.

"We're not here for that, sir. Take your drama somewhere else. We're not going to put up with it, go somewhere else. It doesn't matter what you say, it's not going to happen. Move on, sir. Learn to follow the rules," Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez said.

City rules require those in public comment to only speak about things on the agenda, unionizing was not on the city agenda.

The CWA says more than 80 percent of Pharr EMS supports unionizing, and the group wants the city to adopt an employee consultation policy.

"It's not a traditional fire union or police union. It does give us not necessarily collective bargaining, but it does give us a voice," Emergency Medical Technician Kiefer Roseman said. "I know retention is staffing is a big problem for us right now. Of course, the wages are. It's kind of a touchy topic, but the wages have been. I guess a little bit to be desired."

In a release issued on Tuesday, May 21, the city released the following statement in full:

“The City of Pharr has always been receptive to employee’s concerns, suggestions and feedback and is always open to discussions when going through the appropriate channels.

At a city commission meeting held on Monday, May 20, 2024, individuals attempted to use the public comment period of the meeting to make an announcement that could have been handled in a more appropriate setting. City policy only allows public comments regarding topics or items posted on the official city commission meeting agenda; there was no such item on the city agenda, therefore, discussion regarding this topic did not abide by city policy, which applies to the general public as well as to city employees.

Prior to this city commission meeting, the city was not aware of any requests by any employees to meet with city officials or administration in regard to this matter. The City of Pharr looks forward to addressing any employee concerns on any matters, including regarding EMS operations, and encourages employees who desire to engage in productive discussions with city officials and administration as such to follow appropriate city policies and procedures.”

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