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City EMS division approves contract

Drug testing will be allowed

Emergency Medical Service graduates waited for the commencement ceremony to start yesterday at Faneuil Hall. For the first time, EMTs will be subject to substance abuse tests. Emergency Medical Service graduates waited for the commencement ceremony to start yesterday at Faneuil Hall. For the first time, EMTs will be subject to substance abuse tests. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
Email|Print| Text size + By Beth Daley
Globe Staff / December 30, 2007

Boston emergency medical technicians yesterday overwhelmingly approved a contract that includes substance abuse testing for the first time.

The 140-18 vote by the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association Emergency Medical Services Division also includes a five-year wage increase that hits 3 percent before declining to 1.5 percent, the ability to collect a full pension at an earlier age, and a 5 percent increase in employee contributions to healthcare.

The last contract expired in July 2006 and the new contract will go into effect retroactively.

The union has 45 days to work out the details of the testing, but the president of the EMS division said it would include testing for alcohol and drugs - some union agreements include just testing for drugs. "We still have to figure out the nuts and bolts of the testing," said James Orsino, president of the EMS division.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has been pushing for random drug and alcohol testing of firefighters after autopsy reports on two firefighters who died in an August blaze showed that one had a blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit to drive in Massachusetts. Another firefighter had traces of cocaine in his system.

Efforts to get that testing dissolved recently after a bitter dispute emerged between the firefighter union head and the fire commissioner.

In a statement yesterday, Menino called the contract, "a fair and balanced agreement between the city and the EMS union."

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