As president of the United Phoenix Firefighters Association for more than 20 years, Pat Cantelme turned the union into a political force — and, in the process, made it one of the most powerful labor groups in this right-to-work state.

But Cantelme is now on the other side of the negotiating table. He's part owner of a privately held ambulance company, Professional Medical Transport, or PMT.

And PMT, as I learned recently, has a big union problem.

Three years ago, PMT acknowledged a start-up group, the Independent Certified Emergency Professionals, as the official bargaining unit for its employees. Yet the union still isn't close to a contract — and it puts the blame squarely on management's unwillingness to play by the rules.

In fact, over the last year, the union has filed a series of formal complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. They allege that PMT has refused to bargain, disparaged them, and even put surveillance in their work stations to prevent them from organizing. They claim the company threatened to remove employees from active duty if they engage in union activity — and penalized union members by giving their shifts to part-timers.

If the allegations are true, they amount to a clear violation of federal labor laws — and a heavy-handed attempt to bust the fledgling union.

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board held a three-day hearing to weigh the charges. But while its decision isn't expected for months, another battle is now raging in Maricopa County Superior Court. There, PMT actually sued the union and its president, Joshua Barkley, for defamation and libel.

Reading that, you might think Barkley and his officers have engaged in a particularly nasty war on management — something, perhaps, like those dubious claims, in another recent union battle, that Bashas' was stocking contaminated baby food.

Instead, the claims appear to rest entirely on verbiage posted on the PMT union's Web site, www.icepaz.net. The union accused management of "stealing" the e-mails it sent to its membership. (It might've been more accurate to say that management "obtained" union e-mails, thanks to a disloyal member.) It also wrote that PMT had been "indicted" by the National Labor Relations Board when, to be accurate, it should have said something much wordier, such as "the board found enough evidence of wrongdoing to allow its case against the company to proceed."

Suffice it to say there was nothing that incendiary about the union's rhetoric. Rather than indicating that the union is out of control, in fact, the lawsuit demonstrates that PMT management is willing to play hardball.

That might be bad news from a public relations standpoint for any company. But for a company whose CEO made his bones as a union leader, it's damning as hell.

Jason Rose, a spokesman for PMT, distanced Cantelme from the labor trouble, saying he hasn't been involved. Cantelme owns just 19 percent of the company, Rose noted.

In a prepared statement, Cantelme's business partner and the majority owner of the company, Bob Ramsey, said that "there are few things PMT would like to accomplish more than a labor agreement with Mr. Barkley, and while we acknowledge that negotiations can get tough there are lines that can't be crossed. Some of Mr. Barkley's rhetoric has crossed that line."


Joshua Barkley is a former captain in the Apache Junction Fire Department. He left firefighting for PMT after seeing recruitment materials at his fire station. Since he'd been feuding with his supervisors, and PMT was promising similar compensation and benefits, it seemed like a chance for a new start.

Before getting hired on as a firefighter, Barkley had actually worked for an ambulance company for four years — a company owned by Ramsey, Cantelme's business partner at PMT. Barkley knew Ramsey was a tough guy to work for. But he trusted the company's promises.

Now, after a toxic three-year battle with management, he admits to second thoughts.

He admits, in fact, that he's worried about his job. Sure, the National Labor Relations Board would likely be livid if PMT fired its union president in the midst of a labor war. You just can't do that. But, he points out, the company is already fending off numerous "charges" filed by the union.

"What's another charge at this point?" Barkley asks. "They've got 10, 15 charges already." As for the possibility of being fired, "I sweat it every day."

As Barkley acknowledges, his union has had a terrible time maintaining its size, much less growing. Barkley says he hasn't been allowed access to new recruit training or a roster of employees. With PMT's 171 workers putting in odd hours out of far-flung locations, it's been difficult to let new workers know about the union, much less convince them to sign up.

PMT has used that to its benefit. The company filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year, arguing that the union failed to sign up enough workers to count as the bargaining agent. Yes, they recognized it once, but with the current low level of support among employees, the company argued, it shouldn't be forced to come to the bargaining table now. Fortunately, the labor board saw that for what it was, noting that membership held steady until PMT cut the union's right to use payroll deductions. PMT has no choice but to deal with Barkley and his officers, the NLRB said.

Oddly enough, when I asked Barkley about Cantelme and his union ties, Barkley had nothing bad to say. He blames Ramsey.

"Pat hasn't been part of it," Barkley claims. "He's been straight up the whole time. It's the other side I've had problems with . . .

"Bob [Ramsey] was great, too, until it came to a contract that would cost them money," he says. "Three years later, here we are."

I'm glad that Barkley still trusts Cantelme. But I will admit to a bit more skepticism.

One of the charges currently pending with the National Labor Relations Board specifically accuses Cantelme of threatening the union with "unspecified reprisals" and "promulgating an overly-broad and discriminatory rule prohibiting employees from posting anything that is 'divisive, inflammatory or derogative towards employees [or the] management of the Company.'" I don't see how that can be blamed on Bob Ramsey.

Even worse, to me, is that PMT has won a good number of municipal contracts in the Valley by working Cantelme's union connections. Just look at the suburbs where it managed to beat out Southwest Ambulance to serve as the ambulance provider of record: Tempe and half of Chandler. Both suburbs are covered under Cantelme's old union, the United Phoenix Firefighters Association.

That's no coincidence. Cantelme's old union is a player in municipal politics, and trust me — when its leadership indicated to city officials that it was time to consider a new ambulance company, people listened.

So when it's convenient, Cantelme's an old union guy, but when it comes to managing his own workforce, Ramsey is responsible? I don't buy it.

I can't help but think of Animal Farm. By the end, you can't tell the pigs from the farmers.

If you own 19 percent of a company with a labor problem, that problem is your problem. And if you're hanging out in the farmhouse, sleeping on the farmer's bed, and enjoying the farmer's food and wine, you can't pretend you're a pig anymore.

You're on the other side now. You might as well admit it.

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9 comments
joshua
joshua

no dues are being collectedno dues ..pro-per.15 meetings in the last year all over the county

11/09/2009 Decision and Recommended Order of the ALJ and Order Transferring Proceeding to NLRB JD(SF)-38-09 (Exces due 12/07/09)/(syh)

See ya danny boy. Youre right. Youre too smart for me

Danny Boy
Danny Boy

Josh:

I am tired of having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Respond to this any way you wish, as I will not be reading it. It is getting too painful to read.

You ask me to join a union that has done NOTHING for me. Absolutely zip, zero, nada, NOTHING! Yet you feel that I should pay money to join an organization that has been completely impotent in its representation of PMT employees BEFORE I comment about it! I guess I should give you my hard earned money and then just "trust" that you're going about things the right way? Maybe you should run for Congress!

Still, you feel you are able to make comments such as: "Everything I have done for you and our constitutents has been funded by myself and the volunteer work of a lot of brave people." Perhaps you shouldn't overlook the MONEY people have paid in DUES to your organization? I think that, just maybe, some of the things have been funded by that money and not just your charity. (Please feel free to respond to this by saying you have spent far more of your own money in this fight than the members have spent in dues. It really sounds good and I'm sure nobody has ever used that line before.)

Maybe I would have joined the union had the dues been posted somewhere...ANYWHERE for me to see (or had the question been answered when I specifically asked about it). Maybe I could have asked at one of the meetings; however, the reason I was unable to attend your meetings IS BECAUSE I WAS WORKING! I attempted to bring to the union's attention the fact that many employees work until 8pm. However, that didn't change a thing. The response I got was something to the effect of "If you think you can do it better, etc." So I guess as long as people had the same days off as you, they could attend the meetings. If not, tough luck! I received no further communication.

I also can't believe you are actually proud of providing your own legal representation instead of seeing it for what it is...sheer stupidity! Do you think the AFL-CIO or the Teamsters would have made the employees of PMT settle for YOU as their attorney? I believe the saying is, "He who represents himself, has a fool for a client." Once again, another well known proverb that must have escaped you.

I hate to keep harping on the ego thing, but what the hell gives you the right to represent people in a legal matter? A guy that doesn't take the time to proofread or spellcheck his own documents thinks he should legally represent dues paying members to a Federal agency? NO THANK YOU!

I also take personal offense to your comment, "Show me another group of Americans that would have kept up the fight in the face of the adversity we have endured" (melodrama at its finest). Let me take you up on that request. How about the African-American community fighting for civil rights, or the soldiers, sailors and Marines that have fought for our Country, the pioneers that settled the American West, or how about a single mother trying to work and raise her children. There are so many more, but I think (at least I hope) you get the message. Maybe you can make the folks believe your line of bovine excrement, but I'm not falling for it. Apparently, your definition of "adversity" and mine are very different.

I also noticed that you seem to enjoy talking about "Americans" and the "American traditions." What have you done to serve your Country, Josh, that permits you to espouse these values and question the values of others? As for me, I served in the United States Marine Corps. How about you? Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Navy....maybe even the Peace Corps...anything? Perhaps it would be best for you to reserve those types of comments until you know about the person to whom your comments are directed.

Finally, I do want to wish you good luck. I know that may sound strange to you, but it is sincere. As I already mentioned in my previous comments, it is hard for me to remember the last time I saw an organization that is as mismanaged as PMT. The employees there need to be treated fairly and although I feel the formation of a union should be a last resort, I don't see any other way for the management of PMT to change their ways.

I hope you win your NLRB case and I hope you can improve the work conditions for all the employees of PMT. However, if you don't win your case, perhaps you will see that some of the comments I made have merit and should be taken as recommendations for improvement and not a commentary on your personal motives.

Joshua
Joshua

Well not quite...(incomplete sentence..consider revising) It's my job to get the word out to Union Members. I don't think you are a member but you won't post your name to be sure. I believe you had another email sent to my business manager and myself, declaring we had something to hide? and then ( inappropiate beginning of sentence) when we tried to address your concerns, you stated you'll be available when you have time, and then you were gone. But lets digress here. You threw me under the bus and then later stated you are "on my side". Forget it Danny. You don't hold water, you never have. Information releases on our Union is being debated concurrently. Do we continue to spoon feed people like yourself who remain annonymous, dont pay dues and won't support our actions Publically. Do we continue to give news release to people that contend I'm in this for my own "grand illusion" and to puff up my own ego? Why? But for the other two readers who still tune into the comments on this article I'll give you this:

1. PMT's Motion for summary Judgment against ICEP...Denied2. Charges against Joshua Barkley for "non representation"...denied3. Appeal to Washington NLRB....Denied4. Motion by PMT dmeanding an RM election to show majority status..to the Region...Denied5. Appeal to Washington NLRB ...Denied

ICEP

1. Charges for direct dealing..meritous and argued in court.2. charges for Subcontracting..mertious and argued in court3. Dinegrating the President of ICEP..mertious and argued in court4, Dinegrating the ICEP..Meritous and argued in court5. Refusing to provide "per se " information..mertious and argued in court6. Discrimination in scheduling..meritous and argued in court7. Pay disparity..mertitous and argued in court

There were 70 article admitted in the hearing. more than 60 of them were from the ICEP as GC articles.

A 10 j injunction is now being requested by the Regional Director against PMT

The ALJ findings are still pending

Example of ignorance

{Personally, I put some of the blame on Mr. Barkley. It appears this union was established by him as an homage to himself.}

Homage to what..Personal threats..job insecurity..4 years of fighting the union cause in a right to work state? With a Republican General Counsel?

(There is, essentially, no way to contact the union at this point.)

If you would have shown up to the meetings that were posted on your "flyer in your windshield" You would have known all of this..instead of attacking while hiding..A management tactic,

( however, since they lost the East Valley contracts, I don't see it happening anytime soon.)

We have Tempe..Chandler and Scottsdale and a slew of interfacility contracts and call volume is at a record high.

nlrb.gov>board case search >region-28-type CA- number 22175

Its all there and has been. Some of the findings where not published.

If you would like to change your tactics and become involved instead of a spectator..let me know. If you would like to become a Union Member who has the right to argue points and question leadership..let me know. If you would like to remain in the dark and and throw grenades from behind the bushes...that Generation has been promoted to management. Contact them for more information.

Yes I don't take the time to spell check or use proper grammer all the time. I write consistently and redundently. I am in this 24 7 and write more arguments and evidentiaty documents than you could fathom. There will be a day that I can slow down and correct all of my spelling, or maybe even have someone write it for me. Everything I have done for you and our constitutents has been funded by myself and the volunteer work of a lot of brave people. You might consdider a different way of approaching you're commentary towards them if you want us to succeed.

As far as our newspaper..It's our time taht develops that web page and the information that goes on it. Show me another union that releases union information to non-union members. Show me another group of people that can achieve what we have achieved...an NLRB hearing, produced with no funding and no Legal representation (Barkley pro-per). Show me another union that has a chance for a 10j injunction..only 28 issued in 2008.Show me another group of Americans that would have kept up the fight in the face of the adversity we have endured.

As far as the Teamsters..It was a strategic move to avoid an International Union of any kind 4 years ago. That environment has now changed.

Joshua

Danny Boy
Danny Boy

Josh:

Part of my perception is based upon the manner in which you write. "Rhetoric has reared its head" and "...why he speaks from ignorance is only interesting?" What is that supposed to mean? It's "only interesting?" Starting a sentence with "and." You're making my point for me. Is this the best way you can find to articulate a point? If so, those of us thinking about joining the union are wondering how well our concerns are going to be expressed. (By the way, "decision" is not spelled desicion).

Also, I just don't understand your comment regarding the ICEP website. I seem to remember that ICEP.net was devoted solely to the Independent Certified Emergency Professionals, Local 1 and not The Barlo Post Gazette. It's not rocket science, Josh. If I'm looking for updates on the ICEP v. PMT case pending before the NLRB, where do I go? Amazingly enough, I went to the website on the flyer you stuck on my windshield in the employee parking lot. I guess I should just assume The Barlo Post Gazette is an "ICEP publication" and then I go to union news? Then, when I get there, I can register to get information? This is the best way you can think of to get the news out? You say I'm ignorant?

Your "Union News" page is devoted to justifying your decision to establish an independent union. You make the "umbrella organizations" sound like a bad idea. I guess the International Association of Fire Fighters hasn't had any luck with their contract negotiations? Here are some quotes I copied and pasted from the "Union News" portion of your Barlo Post Gazette. Let's see how your assertions stack up against the IAFF and it's useless "umbrella organization," the AFL-CIO.

"Unionized EMS Providers generally find themselves to be parts of larger �umbrella� unions that may represent pipefitters, cheesemakers, auto-mechanics, government clerks, office employees, and others. Examples include the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Association Of Government Employees (NAGE), etc� These unions claim they have strength in their large numbers. However, seldom have these unions delivered results for EMS workers."

"So called other EMS unions like International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (IAEP) are just branches of these larger �umbrella unions� such as Service Employees International Union (SEIU) or the Teamsters. Members get a great sounding union name but no change in behavior and no better results."

I will use these quotes as my evidence of your "lack of expertise and experience." Are you aware that Andy Stern, President of the SEIU, has visitied the White House 22 times (as of 11/3/09) since the inauguration? I'm sure that's 22 more times than any representative of ICEP.

I'm actually on your side. I think the people getting screwed at PMT are in serious need of union representation. What I questioned was why you felt the need to establish your own union. The arguments you make in your "Union News" section are fallacious, if not libelous.

I was once part of a local "Police Protective Association." This was not unlike your ICEP organization. When the City Manager decided to stop allowing our dues to be paid by automatic withdrawal (sound familiar) and stated he would fight us until we were "broke," because he knew how much money we had collected, we voted to bring the Teamsters in. That's right, Police Officers being represented by the Teamsters! I can personally attest that the move, DID "change behavior," contrary to your assertions it does not.

President Harry Truman once stated, "It's amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit." Maybe it's a quote you should commit to long term memory.

joshua
joshua

It appears more rhetoric has reared it's head in the PMT/ICEP union fiasco. Who is "Danny Boy" and why he speaks from ignorance is only interesting. The ICEP and the website are not defunct and the website is owned and operated by the same individuals it has been the whole time. As for "my ignorance", we followed through on the NLRB case, and a desicion is pending soon. It only shows the amount of ignorant people waiting in the wings to throw dung at people that follow American Traditions and follow the law. As far as "Homage to myself" ..really. I dont see you putting your neck on the line for ANY Union Principles. And please quote to me your knowledge of my "lack of expertise and experience". Danny BOY

Danny Boy
Danny Boy

Well, it appears that PMT has dealt ICEP a death blow. The ICEP web page (ICEP.NET) is now owned by someone else (as of October 16, 2009). There is, essentially, no way to contact the union at this point.

Personally, I put some of the blame on Mr. Barkley. It appears this union was established by him as an homage to himself. I say this because Mr. Barkley could have chosen to form an allegiance with the Teamsters, but opted to "create" a union out of thin air.

With no expertise under his belt, Mr. Barkley was doomed to fail from the start. Had he been thinking about the best thing for the employees at PMT, he would have realized the bargaining skills and financial power of the Teamsters, far exceeds anything he could have ever hoped to do with his "ICEPAZ." Unfortunately, that would have made him the small fish in the big pond.

I can't help but wonder if the management at PMT would have ignored the Teamsters the way they ignored Mr. Barkley and his extremely ineffective union. I tend to think not.

It is a shame because Mr. Barkley had the right idea, he just went about it the wrong way. The employees at PMT are the real people suffering. Personally, I have never seen such a spineless, inept group of so-called "managers" and "Vice Presidents" in my life. Between the "Scheduling Manager," the Vice-President of employee relations and the Vice-President of Risk Management (or whatever his title is), they might as well be Moe, Larry and Curly!

I sincerely hope that something happens to make the working conditions better at PMT; however, since they lost the East Valley contracts, I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob

No solidarity? No brotherhood? It amazes me that off-duty firefighters will work for PMT at $10 and hour straight time (a decent wage.) Those same guys would mess thier pants screaming union-busting all the way to the capital if the cities tried to hire part-time for $10 an hour and take their overtime.

What FF working for PMT on off days doesn't make $50K a year? All of them do. Seems a little selfish to me but tis the way of fire unions at this point.

joshua Barkley
joshua Barkley

EMS Labor Movement in ActionPosted by joshua barkley on August 13, 2009 at 2:30pmView My Blog.Admin Options.Edit PostAdd Tags Cancel Delete Post Edit Blog Posts..A Phoenix New Times Weekly article today describes just how difficult it is to Organize EMS agencies. In an unprecedented move, the ICEP of Arizona forced the case into the NLRB courtroom on July 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. The article goes on to discuss the problems the ICEP has been facing since they were founded In July of 2006. Even with a previous Union President owning part of the company, we feel the collective bargaining process has been subverted. The case revolved around the constant barrage of anti-union emails by the CEO and the PMT management team, designed to denigrate the Union and their President. It revolves around the perceived intent to subvert the NLRA of 1935 and the organizing rules and regulations contained within. In spite of that law, PMT apparently has decided to thwart Union efforts by possibly violating accepted and lawful labor practices. Let me be as clear as possible on this. There are Labor laws and rules that must be followed in labor-management negotiations. There are laws and rules about the treatment of Union Supporters and the employees of Union Companies.

The NLRA is the "main" Federal labor law that regulates union and employer relations in the private sector. Under the NLRA, private-sector workers have the right to:� Form or join a union� Assist a union in organizing employees� Participate in protected union activities� Strike for better wages or working conditions� Resign union membership at anytime� Refrain from joining a union or participating in its activitiesIn other words, unfair labor practices are any union or employer acts that restrain or otherwise interfere with workers' union rights under the NLRA. Examples of unfair labor practices are listed below.� Coercing workers not to join unions or engage in legit union activities, with threats of job loss or benefit deprivation� Threatening plant closure if workers choose to join or form a union� Questioning workers about their union sympathies or activities in an intimidating way� Promising extras to workers to influence their union support� Assigning difficult or dangerous work duties to discourage participation in union activities� Refusing to process grievances of workers who've criticized the union or its officials� Firing or otherwise punishing workers for resigning union membership� Coercing workers to quit (constructive discharge) because of their legit union activities

In a failed attempt to negotiate a fair and decent contract with the PMT management team, The ICEP turned to the National Labor Relations Board for an opinion on the case. The Regional Director and his representatives decided that the ICEP charges of unfair labor practices had merit and moved forward with the complaint. Their opinion on PMT�s Charges against the Union was that they had �no merit� and were dismissed. An appeal to Washington produced the same result. Charge after charge and motion after motion, PMT�s requests have been denied by the NLRB and the General Counsel.

The continuations of Union Busting techniques have produced a non-tolerable workplace for the company�s largest division, the General Transport Sector. By continually assigning this division work assignments outside of negotiations with the Union, the Professionals in this sector bring a whole new meaning to the word �overworked�. The Union is now preparing documentation to charge the company at the NLRB on their behalf. The company has projected an opinion that the Executive board of the Union purveys themselves as �better� or separate from the GT division, it is an obvious case of Divide the Union and conquer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The original Union contract committee placed in �GT� specific items in the contract proposal for the ICEP. The Union President has countersued the company in large part due to the GT division�s work environment. The Union President is well aware that the GT sector is the backbone of the company and is doing everything humanly possible to address their concerns through the courtroom. The suit filed by the company, in and of itself could possibly be a violation of Arizona state law, referring to ARS 12-752 strategic lawsuits against public participation.

The ICEP now will aggressively Protect our membership and move to organize and the company under one banner, the legal and sole bargaining Representative for the PMT employees, the �Independent Certified Emergency Professionals�.Joshua Barkley, ICEP President Share

Dont wanna say
Dont wanna say

Yeah, the unions size is small and here is why:

PMT keeps policies that make it difficult or impossible for the union to even be visible by new employees. As for current employees, people are too scared to be associated with the union.

The management as well as middle management at PMT can, do, and will make your life miserable until you either quit or they will wait until you screw up in the slightest degree and just fire you if you show your support or sign up with the union. If PMT knows that you are a union supporter guess what....there goes your over time, which in turn is given to part time firefighters who are making considerably more than the regular full time employees just because they are firefighters. As it is now, union aside, if you are a full time employee you can't get overtime unless the scheduling department (which is run by total idiots) has already called all of the part time firefighters and get stuck...then they will call you and ask if you can come in. That is, if you have not done anything to piss management off in the slightest.

But back on the point, PMT WILL RETALIATE against those who support the union. They are slimy, skeezy, dishonest, dishonorable people that run this company. The sucky part of it is that it is just as bad at Southwest Ambulance, and there are only 2 ambulance companies to work for out here in the metro area really. The other option is to get on Fire.... and good luck getting on the Fire Department in Arizona, there are 8000 people all gunning for the same position, and the only people that get hired really are those with family and serious connections on the department. The rest of us have to work for shitty private companies like PMT where we get no credit, no appreciation, bad pay, worse benefits, and treated like crap...unless you are a part time employee that works for a fire department.

That is why the union roster is so short.

From the mind of a lowly ambo scumbag,

Thanks for reading

 
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