Kshama Sawant wants Seattle to hire EMT workers on verge of strike

Dec 20, 2018, 2:17 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2018, 6:06 am

Seattle EMTs...

(Atomic Taco, Flickr Creative Commons)

(Atomic Taco, Flickr Creative Commons)

Update: The EMT strike planned for Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 was put on hold as an AMR official flies into Seattle for further negotiations.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is jumping in the middle of a conflict between Seattle’s EMT workers and their employer. She is further urging the city to offer EMT services on its own, instead of contracting the job out.

As the strike looms, it’s more evident than ever that the safety of Seattleites must not be held hostage to corporate greed and a political culture of contracting out our safety net to profiteers,” Sawant writes in a recent letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council.

Councilmember Sawant has sent a letter challenging the mayor and City Council to bring EMT services under the city’s purview. In other words, end contracting for the service, and begin a new city ambulance service.

The letter comes as the union for Seattle EMTs is at odds with employer American Medical Response. The company provides assistance and transportation for non-life threatening incidents. People with severe, life-threatening issues are treated and transported by fire department personnel.

As an ongoing conflict between the union and the employer continue, Sawant is joining. She writes:

Seattle stands hours away from losing Basic Life Support services as a result of a toxic combination of big business greed and a corporate political establishment that uses contracting out as an excuse for dodging its responsibilities to the city’s residents.

She argues that Seattle already has in-house life-support services, and other emergency services, such as the fire department. Therefore, it should bring EMT services in-house as well.

That is why I am issuing a call today to Mayor Durkan and the other members of the City Council to publicly join with me in asking the Seattle Fire Department to prepare a plan and budget for bringing Basic Life Support Services in-house, with seniority and Teamster union rights protected for all the workers, and with wages and benefits to be commensurate with Fire Department standards.

Seattle’s 430 EMTs originally planned to strike on Friday, Dec. 21. Those plans were put on hold Thursday afternoon, officials with Teamsters Local 763 told KIRO 7’s Essex Porter.

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Kshama Sawant wants Seattle to hire EMT workers on verge of strike