HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Almost 50 Cabell County EMS employees made their way into the Cabell County Courthouse Thursday morning to stand before the commissioners and ask for union representation.
It was standing room only inside the commissioners’ meeting as representatives from the United Mine Workers of America told the commission they were there as a bargaining unit for EMS employees.
The commission said they would “take the request under advisement.” Union representatives say as of Thursday morning, 110 out of the 115 employees signed the petition to unionize. Employees cite exhaustion, both mental and physical, and safety as some of the many reasons they want to be in a union.
“Fatigue is a big issue,” said Michael Ryan, a critical care paramedic with Cabell County EMS. “The call volume, and then a lot of different out of town transports.” Those transports, according to several employees, with destinations like Cleveland, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee after employees had already worked 12 to 24 hour shifts.
“We’re seeing things that the general public doesn’t want to see,” said Craig Barker, another EMS employee. “We’re being treated like disposable commodities.”
None of the commissioners would go on camera. It is now up to them when and if they choose to put this issue on a future agenda. One of the commissioners said it was the first they had ever heard of any complaints form EMS workers.
We reached out to Gordon Merry, director for Cabell County EMS. In a statement to 13 News, Merry says he’s “waiting for the commission to make a determination on where they’re going with the issue of unionizing.”