Skip to main content

Ambulance union files complaint against city for alleged Taylor Law violation

By Howard B. Owens

Apparently, a quality organization like Mercy Flight taking over the ambulance service in the county and expressing a desire to hire all of the city ambulance employees isn't enough for union president Greg Ireland. He wants his pound of flesh, too.

The union has filed a "improper practices claim" against the city for an alleged Taylor Law violation in deciding to discontinue the city-backed ambulance service.

The claim is, the city has taken steps to "subcontract" the ambulance jobs by discontinuing the city service.

"Our stance hasn't changed," Ireland said Friday. "The city can't do what they're doing because of the Taylor Law. The city took the steps to change (ambulance service) without negotiating" with the union, he said.

Ireland said a change in ambulance service can't be made legally.

"And it's not going to be if we can help it," he said. "This could have been avoided but the city never approached us. It's too bad it's come to this."

Charlie Mallow said he doesn't believe there is a Taylor Law violation.

But are we to understand from Mallow that the city doesn't intend to sign a contract with Mercy Flight:

"It's something we've discontinued. We are not signing an agreement with whomever the county has selected," he said. "Unions file grievances. This makes it difficult to do what is fiscally prudent." (emphasis added)

So who will provide city ambulance service? Is the union tactic forcing the city into a position where it can't contract with Mercy Flight?

It looks like the fight isn't over. It's just move from one ring to another.

william tapp

im sure i don't have all the facts , i just want the city ambulance people to have a job and hopefully not lose any money, there good people and deserve better.

May 23, 2009, 11:42am Permalink
C. M. Barons

In New York State, contracted civil service cannot be privatized or otherwise reassigned without negotiating impact. A service can be eliminated, but not reassigned without first bargaining with the union of record. Public employees (unlike the private sector) have a right to maintain a contract- despite its expiration. This is the essense of the Taylor Law and the Triborough Decision; a law that perpetuates contracts in lieu of prohibition on striking. Any governing body that is unaware of this should find a new lawyer to advise on matters of civil service law. It's pretty darn elementary.

May 23, 2009, 12:20pm Permalink
John Roach

Does the County having done the contracting get around that?

Since the Taylor Law can not mandate the City to provice service to the rest of the County, if the City has to keep its own service, do you think Mercy Flight will still come out for the rest of the County?

If the City keeps its own service, it can do it with 10-12 people. That still leaves about 12 laid off.

May 23, 2009, 1:45pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

I wonder if the vehicles and equipment are owned by the city. I know if mercy flight would buy them from owners that would save some jobs and help keep the man power side of proven working emergency system here in batavia. I dont think anyone is complaining about the top notch service but with the economic need to reduce spending you have to have both sides being able to haggle. What ever happens it sounds like a long drawn out battle that will cost everyone more than needed.

May 23, 2009, 3:01pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

For once, progress!! The city owns 3 state of the art ambulances, and has very qualified EMT's running them. I want answers to my questions, and reasons for certain city officials actions. Batavia's traditions and system have been put to the wayside for far to long. The ole Ying-Yang, Carma thing is coming about. Good for our PROUD, HARDWORKING, Firefighters, and EMT's. No More Business as Usual. I do feel sorry for some of our city workers, that are Honest and Hardworking.

May 23, 2009, 3:38pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Here's a thought, C.M., so ... if the city doesn't sign with Mercy Flight, or anybody else, it's eliminated the service. It hasn't reassigned the service, but eliminated it.

Ipso facto, no Taylor Law violation.

Perhaps Mr. Ireland is still a bit premature in his claim?

Why does the city have to sign a contract with Mercy Flight? I don't think Mercy Flight can refuse aide to my residence just because Jason Molino didn't sign a contract with Doug Baker, can they?

Questions for Tuesday, I guess.

May 23, 2009, 4:58pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

I am not going to get into a back and forth over this and I’m not going to respond further but, a few things need to be said.

We live in a capitalist country or it was last time I checked. Here is a strange concept for some but, you do not need government involved to provide ambulance service. The only reason the past Council provided the service was because they thought they could make money running a private business. That was a huge mistake and against everything our country is based on in my opinion. The fact is that the city ran what should have been a private ambulance service in this county and forced people in other municipalities to pay our high rates for far too long. In doing that we raised the cost of ambulance rides for everyone. Government should not provide a service the free market can.

The argument about the Taylor Law doesn’t hold water because; we did NOT and will NOT be looking to substitute the ambulance service. We simply stopped providing the service. The city will not contract for ambulance service or take part in suppressing the free market any longer. Mercy flight chooses to provide ambulance service and base their ambulances here in the city because, that is where the business they hope to capture lives. This has nothing to do with the city government; it is called free market capitalism.

May 23, 2009, 6:02pm Permalink
John Roach

The confusion seems to come from the County press release. They had a task force that recommended a company, Mercy Flight. Then they said each municipality had to sign on with Mercy Flight which makes it sound like individual contracts.

Let’s hope that on Tuesday, the City Manager can explain what the county press release means

May 23, 2009, 6:41pm Permalink
Bea McManis

this also means that any fly by night operation, can bring in an ambulance, set up shop and chase accidents they hear on the scanner.
this is going to be interesting to observe.
we'll have no surety that any of these businesses, other than Mercy Flight will accept insurance and not gouge those who can least pay for it. This is assuming that Mercy Flight will accept insurance. There are many ambulance companies that won't.
So, please explain. In order not to go against the Taylor Law, the city will not sign a contract with Mercy Flight, but will sell their equipment to them. Correct?
Then, who does contract Mercy Flight to be the ambulance on call? The hospital?
Will Mercy Flight be connected to 911? Who exactly will dispatch their equipment?
For the record, I'm looking at a Mercy Flight bill from Batavia to Strong in Rochester,
May 21, 2008.
City of Batavia Ambulance
Pembroke to United Memorial, Batavia
Base Rate $599
Rural Mileage 80 8 miles @ $10.00
Sub total 679.
Mercy Flight
Base Price $4940.00
Air Mileage 2170.00 35 miles @ $62.00
Sub total 7110.00
TOTAL $7789.00 Patient was uninsured. Still paying off this bill.

July 18, 2008
City of Batavia Ambulance
Pembroke to Strong, Rochester
Base Rate $599
Rural Mileage 400 40 miles @ $10.00
Total $999 Patient was uninsured. Still paying off the bill

Jan. 27, 2009
City of Batavia Ambulance
Base rate $399
City mileage 12 1 mile @ 12.00
Total $411
Medicare allow.< 70.33>
Insurance Pymt <190.67>
Patient Bal. $150.00

As you can see, the base rate for rural was $200 more than in the city. The mileage, however, was higher per mile in the city than in the county.
Are these the numbers we can expect to remain status quo when Mercy Flight takes over this service?

May 23, 2009, 7:11pm Permalink
John Roach

Not everyone can just open a service and come into the city. They have to get a certificate from the State. Without the blessing of the County, they would not get one.

One way or the other, the City will have coverage. We’ll have Mercy Flight or our own service depending on the union legal challenges. The issue is the rest of the County. The City will not provide ambulance service to them anymore. If the City does not end up with Mercy Flight, then will Mercy Flight come into the County? If you live in one of the towns or villages, you might be in trouble

May 23, 2009, 7:33pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by John Roach on May 23, 2009 - 7:33pm
Not everyone can just open a service and come into the city. They have to get a certificate from the State. Without the blessing of the County, they would not get one.

then the discussion about free enterprise was moot.
thanks for the info John.
If I lived in the 'rural' base then I certainly would be watching this closely.

May 23, 2009, 9:19pm Permalink
Dave Meyer

Here's a quote from the Daily News article from Friday May 22 by Roger Muelig.

It's a statement made by Tim Yeager the Genesee County emergency management coordinator.

"It is up to each municipality to decide whether or not it wants to contract with Mercy Flight, he said. They would still receive the service in any event, he said, but it would probably be in their best interest to have a contact which would hold Mercy Flight to specified response times and availability of equipment.

There is no cost to municipalities. It’s “really a service contract,’’ Yaeger said."


That pretty much says it all doesn't it? So what if the city doesn't sign an agreement with Mercy Flight?

Because most of the ambulances will still be based in the city and because Mercy Flight will be the designated ambulance provider for the county it logically follows that if an ambulance is needed in the city the response time and service should not be markedly different than what it is now because as Yeager said "THEY WOULD STILL RECEIVE THE SERVICE".

I'm not a lawyer, but I agree with what Howard said above. Ipso Taylor law violation.

May 24, 2009, 8:56am Permalink
C. M. Barons

Without a copy of the actual agreement between City, County and other municipalities, commenting on the situation is guesswork. It is my recollection that the county instructed municipalities outside the City to choose a City-provided ambulance service or not. It would appear that the county subcontracts ambulance service from the City for those communities that opted for said service. In that case, the contract between the City of Batavia and the fire department is independent of the subcontracting agreement.
If not mistaken, didn't the county recently repoll municipalities as to their choice of ambulance service provider?

May 24, 2009, 10:38am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

C.M., what I think everybody is saying is there is no written agreement. No contract. The city is not going to enter into a written agreement with anyone. Mercy Flight will be based in the city and by virtue of its ethical obligation and its need to recoup its investment and generate operational revenue, it will respond to city calls (paid for by the individuals in need or their insurance companies). There will be no service agreement in place, with the possible down sides of no guaranteed response times (shouldn't be a worry in the city with Mercy Flight) and maybe some fees paid to the city.

May 24, 2009, 11:19am Permalink
John Roach

The old agreement with the towns and villages had nothing to do with the County. They never subcontracted anything. The City contracted directly with them.

The County may or may not have polleed the other municipalities, but since the city said it would not provide service anymore, what would the point have been?

May 24, 2009, 11:40am Permalink
Bea McManis

John, my post regarding any fly by night ambulance service that could come into the city was based on this post by Charlie Mallow.
According to him we 'do not need government involved to provide ambulance service.'. That sounds as if anyone could open up shop here without government approval.

Posted by Charlie Mallow on May 23, 2009 - 6:02pm
We live in a capitalist country or it was last time I checked. Here is a strange concept for some but, you do not need government involved to provide ambulance service.

May 24, 2009, 12:21pm Permalink
John Roach

I can not speak for Mr. Mallow, but I think he meant that Government, like the City of Batavia, should not try to run a business for profit. They are no good at it and this fiasco is a good example.

A separate issue however is that NY State requires companies who want to provide ambulance service get a “certificate” or license to operate in certain areas. This certificate covers a lot of areas, but they include assurances that the company can in fact provide the service, is needed and meet certain standard requirements.

May 24, 2009, 12:52pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

Bea, I dont think that mercy flight is a fly by night situation (even though they fly at nite) I think the important component to all this B.S. is that the city government is out of the business and legally they need to do nothing and let the services step in and provide our much needed ambulance service. The price of everything has gone up and yes it will be costly to those who may need an ambulance but they provide first and bill later. It seems like people want smaller government but when you provide that option then people complain about the cost. I can also tell you that everyone posts alot of gobbley gook and fancy wording to make or keep this a big issue and keep a buzz going. The issue of the previously failed system the council had for our ambulance service has gone belly up and its time to change it. The only real big deal is the persons losing their jobs. When the smoke clears then mercy flight will be there and I bet they will employ as many of our city residents that had currently run the GROUND service for batavia.

May 24, 2009, 2:12pm Permalink
Bea McManis

David, I have no complaint about Mercy Flight. I believe it will be a good fit for the city and for the county.
Somewhere along the line a contract (that dirty word) has to be signed which will designate Mercy Flight as the service on call for the city and the county.
My question still stands, who will sign that contract?
My guess is that it will have to be the hospital.
What will the procedure for dispatching Mercy Flight, both in the city and the county?
We are used to calling 911. Will that still stand?
I'm not slamming Mercy Flight. I just can't wrap my head around how all of this will work unless, at some point, a contract is signed by someone that makes Mercy Flight the 'official' ambulance service for our area.

May 24, 2009, 10:19pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I wouldn't be so sure there would be a contract. It's up to each jurisdiction to sign a contract, but it's not required. As I understand it.

You'll still call 911. The dispatch center will still relay the calls.

Mercy Flight was recommended by the task force. It's now up to each individual government to decide what to do, as I understand it.

The City has chosen to do nothing, since they don't have to (Mercy Flight will be based in the city).

May 24, 2009, 10:42pm Permalink

Authentically Local