AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin and the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Association will continue wage negotiations through Tuesday, EMS Association President Selena Xie said.
Xie provided the negotiations’ status update during the city’s Public Safety Commission meeting Monday afternoon. Representatives from the city did not attend Monday’s commission meeting, while negotiations wrapped for the day around noon, said Chris Harris with the Austin Justice Coalition.
Negotiations are ongoing to determine how much the City of Austin will pay its first responders in the future. Contracts for the city’s three public safety unions expire in the fall.
Xie told commissioners ATCEMS is currently short of about 25% of its sworn employee positions. She said wages have become increasingly competitive as other cities and private, third-party EMS services offer higher entry-level salaries to prospective EMTs and paramedics.
She said other communities, such as Montgomery County and Cypress Fairbanks, have increased their wages in response.
“It’s just playing a game that is actually dangerous to the public safety of the city,” Xie said.
As part of the talks, the city offered ATCEMS employees a $0.14 raise in April. The Austin EMS Association says many medics were upset by the offer and contemplated quitting.
Xie told KXAN in April that medics are currently paid a starting wage of $19.56 per hour.
“We are worth more than 14 cents,” Xie told KXAN in April.
The association asked for that base pay to be increased to $27 per hour – and they believe the city’s counteroffer of $19.70 per hour falls short.
A spokesperson for the city said the deal it offered medics was, “a 51% increase in new money compared to the last contract they approved (in 2018). The entry-level pay for Paramedics would be more than 5% higher than any other governmental entity in Texas.”