City Hall, union still tussle over medics

The battle between the firefighters union and City Hall will continue in Commonwealth Court tomorrow after Judge Paul Panepinto issued a temporary restraining order barring the city from further action regarding paramedics’ benefits and union eligibility.

Last Thursday, City Councilman James Kenney offered a resolution to make the city negotiate with IAFF Local 22, decrying Mayor Michael Nutter’s insistence that paramedics aren’t firefighters or eligible for union membership. He asked Nutter “to sit down and work this out.”

Nutter said the move, which saw letters go out to medics noting immediate reductions and changes to their benefits, was brought on by a state Labor Relations Board ruling spurred by a federal lawsuit which gave medics back overtime pay because they aren’t technically firefighters.

“We believe that when the Common Pleas Court has an opportunity to hear from the City, the Court will realize that injunctive relief is inappropriate,” City Solicitor Shelley Smith wrote in a statement Friday.

After the restraining order was issued, IAFF Local 22 President Bill Gault said, “There was no operational reason or justification for this. The mayor, like a school-yard bully throwing a temper tantrum, is pursuing this punishment of more than 200 paramedics because a few medics asked to be paid for work.”

A hearing for the city to “show cause why the preliminary injunction … should not be granted” is scheduled for noon tomorrow. A union rally is scheduled for Thursday at City Hall.

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