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Paramedic talks move ahead

Island County’s paramedics union is moving ahead with contract talks with little conflict with Whidbey General Hospital.

Union representatives and hospital officials met last week to iron out minor details, said Paul Zaveruha, Island County’s EMS director.

“There’s some minor issues left that we’re not very far apart on,” he said.

The two sides meet again Thursday night to continue negotiations. Paramedic Union rep Chris Tumblin said that negotiations have been smooth thus far.

Among the requests from the union are a reconsideration of cost of living increases. Tumblin said that Island County paramedics make approximately 26 percent less than paramedics in other counties.

“We just kind of compare ourselves to everybody else,” Tumblin said.

The union is also asking for a larger uniform allowance from the hospital. A new paramedic recieves $200 to purchase uniform equipment, which is not enough, Tumblin said.

“A pair of Red Wing boots costs $181,” he said.

Tumblin said that the union is in a sit and wait mode until the Thursday meeting. The hospital has had since March 2 to consider the union’s offer.

“Our goal is to make sure we’re cost effective for the people on Whidbey and the Hospital,” Tumblin said. “We don’t want to price ourselves out of a job.”

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