Paramedics and dispatchers in UF Health’s ShandsCair teams voted to unionize on Tuesday, joining the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.
According to a press release, the new 84-member union looks to improve work safety, ensure adequate training and earn industry-standard wages. The union will move forward to bargaining its first contract with UF Health.
“We will be calling on the employer to prioritize negotiations and expedite a mutually agreeable first contract for these dedicated, skilled first responders,” said AFSCME Florida President and International Vice President Vicki Hall.
The group includes ground paramedics and flight paramedics who might fly anywhere from Pensacola to the Villages or further.
“We land on highways when there is an automobile wreck, go get someone on an ECMO machine when COVID-19 has compromised their heart and lung function and even fly to Mexico or the Caribbean to rescue American citizens who have medical emergencies on their travels,” Scott Coker, a 15-year veteran of the unit, said in the press release.
Coker said the job pulls in a dynamic workforce who go beyond the normal bounds for patients. He added that the stressful job should receive adequate compensation.
“Our Paramedics have immense knowledge bases and extensive professional development continuing education, but we are not being treated with the respect we deserve and the longer we work here, the greater our pay disparity grows,” Coker said. “We have voted to form a union to bargain with the corporate office to recognize our skills and expertise with a fair contract and pay increases.”