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Pittsburgh paramedics overwhelmingly reject contract offer

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 9:36 p.m.

Pittsburgh paramedics on Friday voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract offer from the city.

Members of Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics Local 1 voted 134 to 9 not to approve the labor agreement, said Anthony Weinmann, the union's president.

The vote gives the union the authority to go on strike, but Weinmann said there are no immediate plans for a walkout.

“I think the number of no votes cast for this contract is a pretty clear indication that city paramedics are not happy with what has been offered,” Weinmann said.

The union, which represents about 160 paramedics, has been working under the terms of a contract that expired two years ago.

Joanna Doven, a spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, could not be reached for comment.

Weinmann said there was no single issue that prompted paramedics to turn down the offer.

The union, however, has been unhappy about the city's proposal to move rescue operations, currently performed by paramedics, to the fire department in an effort to improve public safety and have more paramedics available for ambulance calls.

Changes would include one city team consisting of paramedics and firefighters for the most difficult rescue operations. Fire trucks would be equipped to handle all other rescue operations, including extrications from vehicle accidents.

More than half of the city's 600 firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians, and firefighters now respond with paramedics to vehicle accidents.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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