A recent meeting of the Manatee County Commission allowed a score of paramedics and emergency workers to air their grievances about the lack of employee rights in the current EMS system. The discussion occurred as a vote for union representation for the workers is pending within the county government.
Long-time emergency medical technicians in the area say the workers’ morale has decreased significantly during the past decade. Thirteen individual EMS workers addressed the board to make the case for union representation, arguing that the staff is unable to effectively negotiate with county management without legal backup.
Employees cite as an example a current policy that requires paramedics to come in on their off days to fill in for absent coworkers. This practice essentially disregards the personal lives and activities the paramedics may want to nurture, according to workers. The current drafting policy requires the person who is at the top of a “call-in” list to come to work if someone else is sick or unable to work during their shift.
These emergency services workers say they have had to sacrifice vacations that they have planned months in advance simply because of the current drafting policy. Some workers have also been forced to come in during the midst of family emergencies, according to staff members, which has increased personal turmoil during an already difficult situation
In this case, the workers are being effectively robbed of their personal time because of an irresponsible policy designed to keep ambulances staffed at minimal cost to local government. This practice is causing extremely high job dissatisfaction and employee turnover, which is likely to cost the county even more than the price of simply changing the policy.
The EMS workers met with the commissioners as a courtesy to inform them about the issues within the department. A formal vote will determine whether the workers choose to unionize. Those votes will be counted on Dec. 19.
Source: The Bradenton Herald, “Manatee EMS workers air their grievances to commissioners,” Carl Mario Nudi, Dec. 5, 2012.