Reporting Mike Dunn
By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has delivered a victory, at least for the moment, to the Philadelphia Firefighters Union.
At issue was whether paramedics should be allowed to stay in the union or, as the mayor wants, be forced to negotiate a separate deal.
A state labor relations board had earlier ruled that paramedics are not firefighters, and the Nutter administration then argued that paramedics should not be part of the firefighters’ union.
But the union took that effort to court, saying paramedics perform many of the same duties and should be considered firefighters for the purpose of contract negotiations.
Now, a Commonwealth Court panel has sided with the union.
In the ruling the judges said in part, “The medical services now provided primarily by (paramedics) have historically been an integrated service of any fire department.”
Bill Gault, the head of Local 22, was thrilled.
“This was just so silly and was just retaliatory, time-consuming, and money-consuming of city tax dollars,” he said today. Describing the fire department’s paramedics, he said,”They do the same job as us, they’re on every run with us — they’re us.”
The City of Philadelphia could appeal to the state Supreme Court. A spokesman for the mayor says only that the ruling is being reviewed.
The Commonwealth Court ruling comes on the heels of a state report, issued Wednesday, that found poor morale in the Philadelphia Fire Department, particularly among paramedics, and a huge rift between management and rank-and-file firefighters (see related story).