Residents react to planned paramedic strike, county remains on s

Imperial Valley

Residents react to planned paramedic strike, county remains on sidelines

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EL CENTRO, CA (13 On Your Side) - With less than 48 hours to go - and no labor agreement in sight - paramedics in Imperial Valley plan to strike on Sunday.

It's union claims Gold Cross has not met it's demands to give paramedics $1 pay raise.

13 On Your Side spoke with several residents who say they rely on paramedics to be on-call in case on an emergency.

They say paramedics deserve a raise and a contract should be negotiated to avoid a strike.

"There's people out there, like me, and if I don't get the service I need…I will sue!"

Ethel Grace has has knee problems and her legs suffer due to diabetes.

She says last week her knee gave out and she fell.

A Gold Cross ambulance arrived within 10 minuted to help her get back on her feet. 

Grace is concerned if paramedics go on strike, the next time she needs to call for an emergency - paramedics may not show up.  

"Suppose somebody gets sick real bad or something happens to somebody real bad, and they need them. They're on strike and they're not there to help them. So I think the dollar raise is worth it. They have to live just like everybody else. And the economy isn't all that great either."

After two months of labor negotiations, both sides have failed to reach an agreement.

The union claims Gold Cross refuses to give paramedics a $1 pay raise - from $9 to $10 - better working conditions and better equipment.

Right now neither side is talking.

We tried to contact Gold Cross, but it's owner did not make himself available to us.

So we asked county official Cedric Cesena if the county will end it's contract with Gold Cross if residents feel their safety is at risk.

"If the event is prolonged or at any time that we have a drop – or a substantial drop in the performance of the contractor, then it would obviously be something that we would have to start talking about."

But residents like Louis Macias are still worried. She says she often relies on paramedics to drive her to the hospital.

"I think it's terrible that they don't want to give the people the money they deserve because we all need this and if they go on strike we're going to have a problem here. None of us drive so it's important that we let them have what they want."

As of today, county officials say they will remain on the sidelines when it comes to labor negotiations between Gold Cross and its paramedics.

However, the county says it'll step in if residents fail to get the emergency services needed.

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