Essential workers will soon parade through the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan, but one group will be noticeably absent.
EMTs and paramedics, among the first to arrive at the scene of any health emergency and who were on the very front line during the COVID pandemic, will not be at New York City's "Hometown Heroes" parade on Wednesday, amid a contract dispute with the city.
The union representing FDNY EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors said that some of its 3,000 members are suffering from COVID and how they're being treated by the city.
"During COVID and a 911 call, you cannot respond from your home. You have t show up to work," said union vice president Michael Greco. "We have 25 percent out sick at one point, some of them are still out. And their Line of Duty Injury time is expired, so they're about to be off payroll. So they contracted COVID, they got long-term effects and they're being told they're about to be off payroll — but here's a parade."
The union said that the workers have been without a contract for more than two years. Instead of a parade, they simply want a new deal for their members.
"My members died protecting this city, a parade is not what we need. An ability to pay our rent and live in the city that we serve, that's the recognition essential workers, including EMTs and paramedics, deserve.
The union said members worked 12-hour shifts during the pandemic without hazard pay, adding that their call volume increased while their response time has decreased.
Requests for comment from the FDNY were not returned. The city said that negotiations are ongoing.