Cleveland EMS Workers Protest Ongoing Contract Dispute With City

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland emergency medical service employees workers held a march and protest Wednesday morning at the seat of the city’s government. The picket was in response to the city’s appeal of a legally-arbitrated and awarded contract.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge enforced the arbitration recently. The appeal was filed on Jan. 10. A large focus of the union’s demands is for better mental health support for employees.

“EMS is in distress,” workers chanted as they marched in protest through the heart of the city, ending at city hall.

“We need to go out there and care for each other, and the city needs to care for us just like we care for each other,” said one speaker at the picket.

The employees are represented by Union C.A.R.E. Local 1975.

“The last time Cleveland EMS employees protested, we demanded protection for our bodies and hearts with bulletproof vests. Now, we protest for protection for our minds,” said a speaker at the picket.

Close to 300 EMS workers and dispatchers have been working without a contract now for three years and nine months. C.A.R.E. members are still being compensated at 2015 wages and retro pay of more than $3 million is owed.

The union said city leaders are fighting against their need for mental health support, speaking on post-traumatic stress disorder. Union leaders said they asking for is a clinician to evaluate employees, instead of the commissioner.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown sent a letter in support of the union’s demands.

“I join Ohioans in thanking you for your service to our state and for the work you do every day to keep us safe and well. My office stands ready to assist you in any way we are able,” Brown said.

EMS members from Pittsburgh, Boston and New York Fire also traveled to the city to show their support.

“We see a lot of people that have actually left our service and have gone to other services, and are still here to back us up. That means a lot thank you guys,” said union president Paul Melhuish.

A union representative said they will be having another protest Thursday at the same time. The city is expected to issue a statement on Thursday.


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