EL CENTRO, CA (13 On Your Side) - Paramedics with Gold Cross Ambulance in Imperial County are threatening to go on strike if they don't get a pay raise within the next nine days.
Their union claims they are short-staffed, over-worked and have not received a pay raise in six years.
The union representative tells 13 On Your Side: both sides are far apart.
Paramedics want at least a dollar raise but the company is only offering quarterly bonuses.
If a labor deal isn't reached by next Friday - Fernando Villa says he and 77 other paramedics will walk off the job - leaving thousands of residents who live in the county without emergency services.
Gold Cross paramedics claim they get paid - on average - about $9 an hour.
They say the company recently fired seven emergency medical technicians - leaving them short-staffed, over-worked, and under-paid.
Union representative, Phil Farias, tells 13 On Your Side - paramedics also want better health care benefits.
If a labor agreement is not reached - paramedics say they'll be forced to go on strike.
If that happens - Farias claims Imperial County residents who dial 911 could have to wait up to an hour for emergency service to arrive.
"They get paid just a dollar more than the minimum wage. I know if you go apply at Costco – they get paid more than we do," says Fernando Villas, part-time paramedic at Gold Cross, "and they deal with people's lives. They go to school for that, so, I think they should get a raise."
The union says - in a survey - 90% of Gold Cross paramedics claim management mistreats them.
Again, they plan to strike by next Friday if they do not get a pay raise.
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