United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911

Crossing Boundaries to Win Big

Jose Gonzalez and Oren Barzilay (Photo by Justin Lee).

EMS workers are featured in the most recent edition of AFSCME WORKS. The below is an excerpt; to read the full version, click here.

A group of uniformed EMTs and paramedics from the New York City Fire Department traveled to California this winter and successfully helped organize 260 paramedics, EMTs and vehicle supply technicians who work for Rural Metro Ambulance in Santa Clara County, Calif. These men and women, known as Volunteer Member Organizers (VMOs), spoke with their California counterparts about their own experiences with AFSCME, and made the case for joining United EMS Workers – a family of 20,000.


“They talked to us on a person-to-person level — that there was no difference between us,” said Santa Clara paramedic Samantha Tennison. “They absolutely made it crystal clear we do the same job, regardless of who we work for.”

“We’ve made historical changes, not just for us, but nationally. EMS is now a career. We’ve been able to gain job security, health benefits, and a pension. I sat down with Samantha and explained that all these things we had were achieved not because we were special, but because we were committed to improving our work conditions,” said Oren Barzilay, an executive board member of Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors F.D.N.Y/AFSCME Local 2507 (DC 37).

Samantha Tennison (Photo by Rebecca Stark)

Tennison liked what she heard. “It was really exciting to see just what they were able to do in New York — to transform their job into a profession.” With her East Coast teammates by her side 12 to 14 hours a day, she and other Rural Metro workers began spreading the gospel.

To read the full article and the rest of AFSCME Works, please click here.

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