Ambulance drivers threaten to walk out if benefits, pay not improved.
Ambulance drivers and emergency medical technicians serving the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys rejected a contract offer received from American Medical Response today, filing their intention to strike on Friday, May 2 with their union.
Three hundred members of the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics would be affected by the strike, which is being called because of decreased benefit coverage and non-competitive wages.
“An EMT with two years experience is making $9.50 an hour,” said union spokesman Matt Levy. “That’s 50 cents less than a new hire at In ‘N’ Out Burger.”
This would be AMR’s first strike the area. AMR officials are working with the county of Los Angeles and drawing from its other service areas to make sure there is no lapse in coverage should the strike take place.
Levy said that the union’s “last and best” offer was a salary increase of five percent for four years and the company would pay 75 percent of the cost of employee health benefits.
He added that the union also wants the right to increase co-pay and deductible amounts without consulting employees, which he’s seen happen in union shops in Boston and Northern California.
While no new negotiations are scheduled, Levy acknowledged that “it’s not in anyone’s best interest to have a strike.” He said the union would continue to be open to discuss issues on a continuing basis.
Representatives of AMR did not return phone calls from KHTS.