by Justin Lee | September 27, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO – EMS professionals employed by American Medical Response (AMR) in more than a dozen counties across California voted decisively Wednesday to join United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911.
Having faced layoffs, attacks on their health benefits, short staffing, and even AMR’s attempt to block their election, workers set out to build their own democratic and accountable AFSCME local union to better engage on professional matters with their employer. In yesterday’s election, they won with 77 percent of the vote.
More than 2,200 EMS workers are voting in representation elections this week to join United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911. In New England, more than 500 EMS professionals are taking part in on-site elections today and tomorrow.
“We understand that with numbers there is strength, and with strength we can accomplish a whole lot,” said Kathy Ivy, a Paramedic in Contra Costa County and 18-year veteran EMS professional. "We want to be part of a growing national movement that stands up for EMS workers, and that’s why we voted for United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911.”
Earlier this year, workers in Santa Clara and Solano Counties also voted to stand with AFSCME’s more than 20,000 EMS workers. The experience of Rural/Metro employees in Santa Clara County provides a good example of what being a part of AFSCME means.
“We stopped two dozen layoffs within days of voting for United EMS Workers-AFSCME Local 4911,” said Paramedic Samantha Tennison from Santa Clara County. “We’ve proven we can save jobs.”
The power of solidarity through AFSCME is motivating the effort from California to Massachusetts.
“We can’t afford to be on the sidelines any longer,” said Bob Horte, and EMT Paramedic for Hyannis, Mass.
Rural/Metro Santa Clara County members have been working as Volunteer Member Organizers in New England, speaking with their EMS colleagues about the challenges they face in their profession and the need to come together. AFSCME EMS members from FDNY Locals 2507 and 3621 have been helping out as VMOs on both coasts, showing national solidarity.