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Strike ends quickly at Rural/Metro

A strike by some 400 EMT's and paramedics at Rural Metro Ambulance is over.  Employees walked off the job at 12:01 Tuesday morning, but company spokesman Brian Lawson said talks continued.

"They negotiated all night and came to an agreement probably close to 8:00 this morning," Lawson said.

Rural Metro brought non-union crews from other states to cover for striking workers, but Lawson says local employees are returning to duty, and regular shifts should be in place by 4 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.

According to Lawson, full service is once again being provided by the company. Rural/Metro provides ambulance service to 80 percent of Erie and Niagara Counties.

“There has been a lot of hard work put into this process over the last few weeks and certainly the last 24 hours,” said Jay Smith, Rural/Metro Division General Manager. “We’re pleased to have come to this favorable agreement so that our EMTs and Paramedics can return to the communities they serve. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our partners in healthcare and first response and particularly those dedicated EMTs, Paramedics and staff who left their homes and families to serve the communities of Western New York.”

About 400-employees are members of Teamsters Local 375. Teamsters Kevin Drysdale would not provide a recorded statement, but tells WBFO News around 2:30 Tuesday morning the union delivered a proposal during negotiations. Both sides were then able to bargain on a tentative labor deal. 

The sticking point for the union was wages.  But Drysdale said it the tentative contract will provide "wage increases" and "job protection" for Rural Metro workers.

Drysdale also stated the deal will be beneficial to the company's "footprint" in this area.

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked with Richard Lipsitz, president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, who spoke on the union's behalf.

Picket lines were removed outside Rural Metro at 481 William L. Gaiter Parkway in Buffalo.  Union members were told to returned to their jobs.  

Drysdale said this will send the temporary workers called in from other cities back to their jobs Metro workers. 

Union members must now vote to ratify the deal.

The company responds to approximately 120, 000 emergency calls year.