California’s first responders are working hard to spread the word about a dangerous initiative that will show up on their state’s ballot Nov. 6.
Proposition 11 would change California’s labor code so that emergency responders at private ambulance companies would remain on call during their meal breaks, leaving them with little or no chance to rest during what are typically long, demanding shifts.
“We cannot let this pass,” said Local 12-911 President Lee Almeida, whose local includes some 1,400 first responders. “If this is voted in, what other kinds of employers are going to say ‘this should apply to us too’?”
Following the money
The measure is backed almost exclusively by the private medical transport company American Medical Response (AMR), which has so far spent nearly $22 million to support the proposal.
In addition to relieving the company of tens of millions of dollars in labor costs, Prop 11 would also rid AMR of the obligation to pay on millions of dollars’ worth of pending and future lawsuits for meal and rest break violations.
To cloak these true intentions, the proposition is worded to suggest that it would increase public safety by expanding training services for first responders.
“That story sounds good, but it’s just not true,” said Almeida. “We already get this training because it’s already required. For example, we all have to get MCI (mass casualty incident) training to get our state certification.”
The stakes of this ballot initiative are high, which is why USW members across the state are working to defeat the proposal.
Almeida and his local have been networking with members of other area locals, including teachers, firefighters, highway patrolmen and other health care workers, as well as telling their story to the media to help get their message out beyond the labor community.
“We’ve been doing a lot of community outreach,” said Almeida. “It’s our goal is to get the word out to everyone in the whole state.”
Other USW members, including those of Local 1853 in Fontana, Calif., and the ProTrans unit of TEMSA Local 12-911, are spreading the word by distributing flyers and going door-to-door to help educate voters.
USW members also joined Freddie Rodriguez last week at a rally outside the state capitol in Sacramento. In addition to being an elected member of the California Assembly, Rodriguez also works as an EMT in the San Gabriel Valley.
In July, California State Labor Federation affiliates voted unanimously at their 2018 political convention to work to defeat the proposition.
After encouragement from the USW Rapid Response department, the fed has since sent flyers to every union affiliate, reminding them how important it is to vote no on Prop 11. It also included the flyer on its order form and website for free printing, shipping or download so that all locals and central labor councils in the state can order and distribute the information.
USW Rapid Response also sent out a text and email blast to all California activists. To read the Info Alert, click here.