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EMS Officers Give Eppinger 2nd Term

EMS Officers Give Eppinger 2nd Term

The Chief Leader 4/14/2007

by Ginger Adams Otis

The 409 members of District Council 37 Local 3621, representing Emergency Medical Service officers, voted overwhelmingly April 5 to re-elect President Thomas Eppinger and the rest of the union’s leadership for another three years.

The election was administrated by the American Arbitration Association. Ballots were counted by AAA and the preliminary results announced by the local’s election coordinator. Mr. Eppinger ran unopposed after a challenger, Manuel Ramos, was found ineligible. Mr. Ramos, recently promoted into the union, announced his intention to run not long ago. The local’s constitution, however, prohibits members from holding office until they’ve been in the union for at least a year.

Waiver Bid Rebuffed

Mr. Ramos appealed to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the international union of DC 37, in an attempt to bypass the clause. The AFSCME’s constitution states, however, that a local’s regulations regarding its elections trump all other directives; Mr. Ramos’s disqualification, and that of a newly-promoted aspirant for an executive board seat, was deemed valid.

Local 3621 in the past functioned more as an arm of the much larger Local 2507, which represents the city’s nearly 3,000 Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, than an independent entity. The balance between the unions shifted slightly when Mr. Eppinger was appointed a year-and-a-half ago after the mid-term resignation of former president Donald Rothschild.

While maintaining good relations with the leadership of Local 2507 – joining in endorsing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election campaign last summer and working with that local to secure contracts for both memberships – Mr. Eppinger has also made some independent choices in appointing key personnel.

Got Own Lobbyist

Earlier this year, he dropped long-time EMS lobbyist Robert Ungar, who still represents Local 2507 and, more recently, the Uniformed Firefighters’ Association, in favor of new lobbyist, James Capalino. He has also been outspoken about the needs of EMS officers who have fallen ill and had trouble navigating the New York City Employees’ Retirement System for benefits.

Other union officers re-elected along with Mr. Eppinger included Vice President Jack Sullivan; Treasurer Kathleen Gonczi; Recording Secretary Kathy Fuchs; Executive Board Members Elizabeth Ambrosino, Charles Fraser, Martin Miller, Jeff Race and Michael Talletti; and DC 37 Delegates Mitch Berkowitz and Michael Cavanaugh.