Rural/Metro to Vote on Union

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Knoxville (WVLT) - We'll know Wednesday afternoon whether Rural/Metro's Knox County ambulance crews want union representation.

The voting ended for the evening around 5:00 p.m., it starts again Wednesday morning and runs until noon.

Last year, the union drive failed by three votes.

This year, a local union organizer says the effort has much more support.

He says about three fourths of the paramedics and EMT's eligible to vote signed a petition and indicated they intend to vote to unionize this time.

Ambulance crew members who want a union say it will improve the work environment, but union critics say unionizing may cost rural metro's customers, who may have to pay higher fees.

"They've done away with a few of the benefits that we had last year that we no longer have now. Basically, it took some money right out of the pockets of some of the employees." Ken Tuggle, Rural Metro E.M.T.

Rural/Metro released this statement from its division general manager regarding the union vote:

"We understand that the employees have the right to organize if they choose. However, we have provided our employees with as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision. We are hopeful that once they have reviewed all the facts, that they will choose not to organize. No matter what the outcome of the election process is, we will continue to provide the high level of emergency medical services to the citizens we serve."

If the union drive is successful, Rural/Metro's Knox County ambulance crews would become affiliated with the Service Employee's International Union.