Teamsters Local 610 dispatchers and call takers at St. Louis’ Abbott Ambulance overwhelmingly approved 50-2 (out of 56 employees) a first-time collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on Aug. 21. The contract ratification was the culmination of a November 2019 representation election and intense negotiations that were interrupted by COVID-19 almost from the outset and were completed virtually.
The new three-year contract immediately improves their terms and conditions of work, including:
- Substantial annual raises for all employees and eliminated having a top out cap on wages.
- $1,000 ratification bonus for each employee.
- Increasing the new hire starting wage by $3/hour.
- Providing more affordable health insurance that includes an FSA or HSA for each employee (with company contributions).
- Two additional paid holidays, which honor MLK and Veterans.
- Earn paid time-off (PTO) at faster rate and increased PTO accrual for long term employees, and for the first time part-time employees earn PTO
- Company paid short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD).
- Perfect attendance bonuses of up to $900/year.
- Paid lunches.
- Seniority and real grievance procedure, with a just cause provision.
Teamsters 610 President Jeff Hall, a licensed paramedic and former dispatcher himself, said Local 610 is “very pleased to be able to improve the terms and conditions of these 55-plus hard-working new Teamsters, who support dispatching first responders in four states.”
Hall hailed the efforts and tenacity of his four-person rank-and-file negotiating committee, consisting of Sarah Krege who was a vital part of organizing, Cat Manning, Judy Holmes and Paul Davis.
Davis, a part-time dispatcher, is the former president of Fire Fighters Local 73. The negotiating committee unanimously recommended approval of the contract.
‘A LONG TIME COMING’
“It was a long time coming, but it’s an excellent contract,” Davis said, noting the difficulty in negotiating a contract during the COVID-19 pandemic, when negotiating sessions had to be held virtually via Zoom.
“We only had one face-to-face meeting in February; everything else had to be done by Zoom,” Davis said. “Anytime you’re in negotiations with people, being face-to-face is really important but we unable to do that; we had to do it all by video, but we were able to get it done and it’s a good contract. We had a lot of support. For a first time contract, with a newly elected union, there’s always some apprehension because of the newness of it, but we were able to eliminate that the apprehension and got it passed.”
SUPPORT FROM INTERNATIONAL
Hall also lauded the consistent support Local 610 has received from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Healthcare Director Nina Bugbee. Bugbee put Teamsters International resources behind last year’s organizing effort. She also attended several negotiating sessions this summer, and enlisted the strategic support of Carin Zelenko, director of Teamsters Capital Strategies Dept.
Hall said the combined efforts of Bugbee and Zelenko helped push the company to reach an agreement with Local 610 on the final sticking points of the contract.
This was “a very difficult negotiation that stretched all of our patience, skills and abilities, but we finally reached an agreement of which we can all be proud,” Hall said.
PARAMEDICS AND EMTS
Teamsters Local 610 has represented dispatchers, paramedics and EMTs at Medic One and its predecessors for more than 30 years, Hall said, and would welcome the opportunity to work with the paramedics and EMT at Abbott Ambulance to improve their terms and conditions of employment. Interested persons should contact Jeff Hall, who can be reached at 314-766-0971 or at Jeff@teamsterslocal610.org.