OCEAN CITY — Just two days after the Town of Ocean City and its firefighter-paramedic union reached an 11th-hour agreement on a new contract, union officials submitted a petition at City Hall seeking a referendum for binding interest arbitration.
Last Tuesday with the clock ticking down on the negotiations deadline, the Mayor and Council and the Career Firefighter Paramedics Association of Ocean City, or local 4269, reached an agreement on a new contract which to some degree represented a compromise of sorts on the controversial shift change among other things. The contract also provides for employees to be advanced one step in the salary structure and to be awarded a 1.5-percent cost of living allowance (COLA) on July 1, 2017 and again on July 1, 2018, but the shift change issue remained a sticking point despite the agreement reached last week.
Most Ocean City paramedics currently work in 24-hour shifts, followed by 72 hours off. However, citing a variety of reasons, including potential missed calls, delayed responses and national trends, the town remained adamant about phasing out the 24-72 shift rotation in favor of an alternative 12-hour shift or some hybrid of the two. The contract agreed upon by the parties near the deadline last week represents a compromise of sorts, with two 10-hour day shifts followed by two 14-hour night shifts.