FDNY union head blasts de Blasio for promising parade over pay raise

New York Post | April 22, 2020

By Julia Marsh

The head of the FDNY EMS union blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio for promising first responders a ticker-tape parade to celebrate their heroic efforts to combat the coronavirus without pledging to increase their pay.

“A parade does not put a roof over the heads of our men and women,” said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, which represents over 4,000 FDNY EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors.

“A parade does not put food on our members’ tables. The heroic men and women of FDNY EMS have risked their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic and the time is now to pay them what they rightfully deserve. If he can spend millions on throwing a parade, he can do the same with paying EMS,” Barzilay said.

The Big Apple’s last ticker-tape celebration feted the World Cup-winning US women’s soccer team in July. A 2015 parade for the women’s team cost city taxpayers $1.5 million in security, confetti and cleaning costs on top of nearly $500,000 from private donors.

In early April as emergency medical calls surpassed records set during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, de Blasio rebuffed calls to give emergency responders a raise.

“It’s not the time to, you know, make something up on the fly in the middle of a crisis,” de Blasio said on WNYC radio on April 3.

At the time, about a quarter of all EMS members were out on medical leave because of the virus or other ailments as their on-duty colleagues fielded 6,500 medical calls per day — hundreds more than the city’s busiest day of the year.

The first responders make as little as $16 an hour, barely above the city’s minimum wage. Firefighters are paid $86,000 after five years compared to $48,000 for a top EMT.

On Tuesday, the mayor announced the “greatest” Canyon of Heroes parade ever to honor first responders and health care workers once the pandemic is over.

During a press briefing Wednesday, de Blasio kicked the pay issue to Washington, DC.

“The federal government is in a position which we very, very sadly are not, but they are in a position to provide bonuses as part of the stimulus” to front-line workers, he said.

He also took a dig at Barzilay.

“Union leaders do what union leaders do, but the folks who do the work keep showing up,” de Blasio said.

“The opportunity to appreciate them is meaningful,” he said.