WARRENTON, N.C. — Warren County emergency medical technicians are in a battle to keep their pay from being cut.
The pay dispute comes as the Warren County commissioners are approving deep program cuts to avoid raising taxes in the new budget year.
"Taking a reduction of anywhere from $200 to $300 in pay every two weeks is kind of hard to swallow," paramedic Mary Kearney said.
The new pay policy affects how overtime pay and sick leave is computed.
Warren County Manager Loria Williams admits the new salary plan will save the county money at the EMTs' expense.
"It did result, and will result, in a reduction of their pay, and we knew that," Williams said.
Now, the EMTs wear a black ribbon as a silent protest to the new pay procedures.
"They just walked in one day and said this was the way you are going to get paid -- the pay was wrong, so we're going to demote your pay," paramedic Richard Lynch said.
In a county where the nearest hospital is a 40-minute drive, the EMTs remind the public of their importance in the rural county.
"We are in no way trying to jeopardize their care," Kearney said. "We are here from the start, but we have to stand up for what's right, and right now, telling us we are going to get a pay cut right after we sign our time sheet is not good."
The EMT paramedics will appear before the county commissioners next month as they prepare to adopt the new county budget.