JAMESTOWN – Alstar EMS workers marched alongside Foote Avenue outside of UPMC Chautauqua Wednesday afternoon, with wages and staffing being their chief concerns.
Joseph Snyder, Alstar paramedic and SCIU Chairman, Executive Union Board member, stated during the picketing that he believes UPMC is focused more on the financials rather than the staffing.
“In our county, we have a shortage of paramedics and EMT’s. It’s creating a strain on the system, and UPMC, since they’ve come in, really don’t seem to be wanting to address that,” Snyder said. “They’re more worried about the bottom line, than they are the patient.”
“We are trying to bring attention to that so we can fix this issue. We, obviously, feel that wages will fix that staffing issue, so that’s the other part of it, but it’s the community that we want to sound the alarm and let them know that there’s a problem here.”
Snyder said that the union met with UPMC for the first time in two months Wednesday morning, which he said he believes happened because of the planned picketing.
The Chairman said UPMC did make a “little” change in their proposal, but that the two sides are “still far apart” and that “we don’t think it’s (the proposal) going to fix the staffing issues in this county.”
In addition, Snyder said that the union believes UPMC is legally negotiating in good faith when asked by WNYNewsNow.
“There seems to be some pause in trying to get to an endgame,” Snyder said. “It’s less about trying to solve the staffing issues that we have in this county, and more about playing the negotiating game, which we can’t do at this point.”
Snyder said that 2014 was the last time that Alstar had reasonable wages and a full staffing. Currently, Snyder said that there are times where Dunkirk could lack a paramedic, and Jamestown will have “one or two.”
“The people of this community are going to suffer because of UPMC,” Snyder said. “I hope the event works today. This is what we are trying to do. We are going to continue to try to negotiate with them and try to raise public awareness. We just have to keep fighting for it.”
WNYNewsNow did reach out to UMPC Chautauqua’s public relations department for comment, but the opportunity was declined.
WNYNewsNow’s Jonathan Schultz contributed to his report.