Oh my the world is swirling with anger over a burger flipper getting $15 an hour while our life saving, life risking EMTs are only making $10.
Friend of the blog Sean Eddy, in his piece at Uniform Stories.com, not only set a shot over the bow on this topic, I’d argue he has declared war and I hope he’ll have me as an ally. Go read his piece here and come back when you’re good and angry.
Let’s start by putting down our pitch forks and signs and taking a deep breath. Arguing for an hourly wage without taking into consideration total compensation is like arguing home run averages without looking at the final score of the game. It tells a neat story about a brief moment but leaves out everything we need to know.
“Did you win?”
“I should get as many home runs as the other team”
Well, that makes perfect sense, Sparky.
If you aren’t making what you think you’re worth in EMS you have 2 options:
“But Justin, it’s a calling.” No shit. I feel the same way. That’s why when $4.35 an hour wasn’t cutting it I moved. When $7 wasn’t cutting it I looked to promote and when $11.50 wasn’t cutting it I dragged my wife on a 20 hour truck drive to another time zone. Now I make more than 10 times an hour what I did my first day on the job 20 years ago. Benefits are far better too, but you aren’t asking for benefits, are you?
Don’t come at me with a sob story about how important EMS is to you. We’ll take that as read. We all want this job. We tried really hard to get this job. We love this job. Apparently some of us just aren’t willing to put in the effort.
I want anyone who thinks they are underpaid to think about what you are asking for. You are asking to be brought level with food service workers on an hourly wage.
What happens when 3 years from now, after still mismanaging what little you get, you want another raise?
You already argued for that and got it.
Richard Bach, in his book Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, describes exactly what you are doing when you scream and carry a sign demanding parity with a part time food service worker:
“Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.”
You have set the ceiling and placed an arbitrary value on the service you currently provide. Now, without increasing the value of that service I as your employer and community have no reason to increase your wage until you offer a better product.
“But Justin, aren’t we worth more than a kid flipping burgers part time?”
Not according to your own argument, no.
We’ve covered pay in EMS dozens of times in this forum and others and my answer will always be the same. If you want more money, go make more and get a handle of your finances. If you want a better wage, go find out what it takes to get hired with a better service who pays more and do it.
Don’t stand around with a sign demanding parity with yourself from 20 years ago. Get into a class, find a mentor and break the downward spiral of setting yourself up for failure.
If it was up to me I would grant each and every one of the folks crying for $15 their request and do it happily. Why? Because now I know what they’re willing to work for instead of them bringing value that they can market at a higher rate.
Well done $15 gang, you argued for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.