January 18, 2008 Volume 109 Number 2

ATU Local 757 members ready to strike AMR in Josephine County

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics employed at American Medical Response (AMR) are preparing to go on strike Jan. 20 in Josephine County.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 represents a bargaining unit of 33 ambulance workers at AMR. On Jan. 7 they gave a 10-day notice to strike. They were ready to walk out at 8 a.m. Jan. 17, but that was pushed back 72 hours on Jan. 14 after AMR delivered some financial documents that the union had been seeking. AMR claims that it doesn’t make a profit in Josephine County. The union doesn’t buy it, and wanted to see proof.

“AMR stalled and stalled handing over any documents,” said Local 757 President Jon Hunt. “When it finally got down to the wire (to strike), we got some more documents.”

At press time, the union was still scouring the documents for information. In the meantime, they decided to delay the strike and, instead, meet with a federal mediator on Jan. 17. (The outcome of that mediation was not known at press time.) The new strike date is set for Jan. 20.

The union has been trying to bargain a new contract for nearly two years. Key issues in the dispute are wages and health insurance benefits. As it stands, some EMTs and paramedics at AMR make just a few cents above the state minimum wage of $7.95 an hour. According to Hunt, EMTs are on call 24 hours a day, and the average work-week is 56 hours.

During negotiations AMR implemented the company’s national health insurance plan and increased worker co-payments for premiums. It also gave workers a wage increase, although part of that was tied to the increase in the state minimum wage on Jan. 1.

Local 757 has filed an unfair labor practice complaint, which is pending.

“Our people are solid. I think the company realizes that,” Hunt said. “Hopefully we can get something worked out on the 17th. If not, our people are ready to strike.”

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