Court Says Philadelphia Fire Service Paramedics Can Remain In Firefighters Union Local 22
January 19, 2012
(Union Law Firm Willig, Williams & Davidson Wins Reversal of PLRB Decision Protecting Collective Bargaining Rights of Fire Service Paramedics)
On January 18, 2012, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruled that the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22, AFL-CIO, Fire Service Paramedics (FSPs), also known as Philadelphia Medics, should be considered firefighters under PA Act 111. Local 22 was represented by attorney Ralph J. Teti of the Philadelphia union-side labor law firm Willig, Williams & Davidson. The ruling reversed a September 21, 2010 decision by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB).
According to Teti, “Fire Service Paramedics have played an integral role in fire fighting since the beginning of organized service. When you look at it in the context of what the Philadelphia Fire Department does, they’ve always been in the business of responding to health needs.” He said, “This all stems from the City’s decision to go before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to exclude FSP from Act 11 claiming they were not firefighters. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. And now we’ve given people back the rights to collective bargaining that they never should have lost to begin with.”
The Court noted that firefighters and FSPs have been included in the Local 22 bargaining unit for over 20 years. However, on March 12, 2009, the City of Philadelphia (City) filed a unit clarification petition with the Board, seeking to have all FSPs removed from the Local 22 bargaining unit on the basis that they are not firefighters within the meaning of Act 111. After hearings on the matter, the Board’s hearing examiner agreed with the City and determined that FSPs are not firefighters under Act 111 and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act. The Commonwealth Court disagreed.
According to the opinion, the facts demonstrated that the “FSPs are legislatively authorized to fight fires”… and, “the medical services now provided primarily by FSPs have historically been an integrated service of any fire department.” The Court said that monitoring the health of the other responders and fire fighters, being present at fire scenes, and providing physical assistance such as occasionally moving and holding ladders, establishing water connections, moving hoses, and directing water on burning material all qualify as ”interrelated duties that are equally necessary and appropriate [in fighting fires].”
“This is a great decision that restores our brother and sister life-savers to the full union where they have been for years,” stated Local 22 President Bill Gault. He said, “We work out of the same fire stations. We have the same life saving goals. We are and always have been a team in every sense of the word.”
The complete Opinion can be read at: http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Cwealth/out/2025CD10_1-18-12.pdf
About Willig, Williams & Davidson – Willig, Williams & Davidson (www.wwdlaw.com) is one of the largest and most respected union-side labor law firms in the United States. Founded in 1979, the firm focuses on representing labor unions, employee benefit funds, individual working people and their families on a variety of legal fronts, including national, regional and local contract negotiations; dispute resolution through mediation, arbitration and litigation; tax and benefit law compliance issues; discrimination and other employment matters; prepaid legal services for union members; and workers’ compensation matters in Philadelphia and beyond.