Striking workers ready to stay out as long as it takes to settle health insurance issues.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians employed by American Medical Response walked the picket lines for a second day in an effort to protect their health benefits.
The strike was called after union officials and AMR negotiators met Sunday night and were unable to come up with a compromise. Critical issues include salary increases and assurance that health costs remain affordable.
AMR has brought in workers from other regions to cover any emergency calls and, so far, other Santa Clarita first responders have said they have not noticed any delay in service.
With cars honking support in the background, IAEP National Director Matthew Levy told KHTS that Santa Clarita employees had been bussed to AMR’s headquarters in Lancaster. He said other unions sympathetic to the workers brought water and members were barbecuing food for the picketers.
“At the eleventh hour Sunday, we were discussing with AMR’s corporate vice president what they might be willing to do to prevent this,” Levy said. “Although we feel we’re underpaid, the health insurance was the most important. They wanted to modify the insurance without bargaining.
“The whole point of a union is to protect their workers and AMR wanted to arbitrarily change the health insurance premiums and deductibles,” he continued. “When you’re making $9.50 an hour as an EMT, sometimes it comes down to paying health insurance or the rent.”
Levy said that strikers were in good spirits and would hold out as long as they could, adding that the union had a strike fund to help workers in need.