Baltimore paramedics have won a victory from the city's Board of Estimates, which cleared the way for them to join the same retirement system as city police and firefighters and retire after 20 years of service.
The move is a victory for Baltimore Firefighters Local 734, which has been battling to get its paramedic members into the same retirement unit as their fellow firefighters. The unit represents 143 paramedics.
Those workers will "get a better pension over the long haul" than they would under the Employment Retirement System that applies to other civilian city employees, said Lonnie D. Jackson, an official with the union.
Previously, for example, those paramedics would have had to work until age 62 before retiring (65 in the case of supervisors), though firefighters can retire after 20 years of work.
"The paramedics will be ecstatic," said Jackson.
The long-simmering fight stems from changes in the makeup of the city's paramedic force in recent decades.
At one time, paramedics came from the ranks of the city's firefighters, who already were members of the Fire and Police Retirement System.
In 1979, the city switched to civilian employees because of a decline in the number of firefighters interested in paramedic work. Those new paramedics went into the Employment Retirement System like most of the other civilian city employees.