Offer Would Allow Lakewood EMS Unit to Remain Intact


lakewood-emsAfter months of negotiations, township officials have made an offer to the Emergency Medical Services department that would allow the unit to remain intact but require a 30 percent pay cut for its employees, according to town and union officials.

Since December, EMS has been at risk of being disbanded as township officials look at privatizing Lakewood’s ambulance service to cut costs.

The department’s union has until 9 a.m. Monday to respond to the offer, which actually includes two contract options, Mayor Steven Langert said.

However, township officials declined to comment further on the ongoing contract talks.

The offer comes amid drastic municipal state aid cuts announced by Gov. Chris Christie.

“While we’ve asked them (EMS) to, in Christie’s words, “share the pain.’ We haven’t asked them to shoulder all the pain,” Langert said. “We are still willing to subsidize the department to a degree.”

But the union is far from ecstatic.

The biggest insult was forcing the union to decide whether to fire the EMS supervisor, Scott Carter, though he was hired by the township, said Shannon Ortiz, of Local 380 of the Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association, which represents Lakewood’s EMS workers. If Carter stays, the 15 full-time employees will have to take an additional $5,447 cut in pay, according to Ortiz.

“A lot of people’s lives are going to change,” she said, adding a decision to accept the offer has yet to be made. If it is rejected, EMS likely will be disbanded.

A vote on the unit’s fate should occur Thursday at the Township Committee meeting.

{Zach Patberg-APP/Noam Newscenter}