Multnomah County drops workload language in new ambulance contract

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted June 28 to approve a new emergency service contract with American Medical Response (AMR) that eliminates language protecting paramedics’ workload levels. The action was strongly opposed by the Teamsters Union and AMR paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

The deleted language is referred to as a UHU, or “unit hour utilization.” It is how emergency service companies measure workload levels. The language has been in AMR contracts at Multnomah County since 2005.

Teamsters Local 223 Business Rep Dave Tully asked commissioners to reject the contract, send it back to AMR, and have the UHU put back in.

Commissioner Loretta Smith made a motion to put the UHU language back in the contract, but it failed to get a second.

In the end, commissioners approved the new contract 4-to-1. Smith was the lone no vote.

The Teamsters Union is currently in negotiations with AMR on a new collective bargaining agreement. The previous contract expired June 30, but has been extended to Aug. 24. The sides are scheduled to meet again Aug. 20-21 with help from a federal mediator. Issues remaining are wages, health benefits, and pension. Tully said UHUs are not a mandatory subject of bargaining and AMR will not discuss it.

Meanwhile, a strike authorization vote takes place the week of July 23-26. Ballots will be counted July 26.

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