While communication has been lacking the last month, the activities have not. Below is a brief update on the many issues currently on-going.
Longevity Pay – Longevity pay was unilaterally and unlawfully stopped by Rural Metro’s management team in the fall of 2012 after which point the Union filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board. The ULP issued into a formal complaint which was heard by a federal Administrative Law Judge who found that Southwest Ambulance violated federal law. SWA then appealed the case to the Labor Board in D.C. who upheld the judges order. The Company then appealed yet again, this time to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia where the panel of three judges vacated the lower court’s rulings on a political technicality. Due to the impact of this ruling on other federal agencies, the US Dept. of Justice and NLRB petitioned the court to rehear the case. On November 3rd, 2015, the Company responded to the DOJ’s petition and the process is currently awaiting response from the Court. The Local I-60 also filed a new ULP for the missed June payment (and now December payment) to ensure that at the very least, we are able to enforce the most recent two payments should the U.S. Government not win on the petition for rehearing or appeals.
Pension Arbitration Enforcement – In April of 2014, an Arbitrator ruled in the Union’s favor regarding the companies’ unlawful and unilateral reduction of pension benefits. Since the award was issued in 2014, the Union has been working to implement the necessary changes to correct the Company’s unlawful actions. Unfortunately this has been to the objection of the Company and as a result, the Union was forced file a federal suit in the Arizona Federal District Court where we obtained a federal court order on July 6th, 2015 to enforce the arbitration decision — something that Rural Metro continues to ignore. Just yesterday the Union filed it’s final reply to a motion to enforce. You can read the Union’s reply to the Court by clicking here (PDF: 14-CV-02556-NVW-Enforcement-Reply). We expect to hear from the court within the next few weeks with either another order further enforcing the award, or a date for an oral argument to determine the next step.
West Valley Deployment & Posting Plan(s) – Rural Metro’s Kevin Stock implemented unilateral changes to the West Valley by reducing the coverage to citizens in the west valley and negatively impacting the citizens in many West Valley communities along with failing and refusing to bargain in good faith with the Union on the impact of changes to members of the Local I-60 — including reduction in pay. The Company refuses to admit it was wrong in implementing its changes though silently continues to modify the west valley posting plan to fix the horrific response times they have created and the unsafe situations forced upon members sitting on the corners of busy intersections. The Union has demanded copies of the posting plans, response time policies and for the company to bargain in good faith — all met with silence and refusals to comply with federal labor law.
Gilbert & Queen Creek Transition to AMR – As most of you know, Southwest Ambulance lost the Gilbert and Queen Creek contracts to American Medical Response who assumed responsibility for the area’s emergency medical services in November. Employees that were displaced from the area were entered into a special displacement bid for new shifts. Shift bids will most likely be resuming in the very new future so that all employees can bid onto any of the several of the 24 hour shifts which have opened up over the past month. (This won’t be a mandatory bid, just a regular shift bid). There is currently an issue with providing service to San Tan Valley, as AMR is reportedly not willing to move into STV when needed — in part because they do not hold a CON for Pinal County. These issues are still being worked out in the Labor Management Committee and other venues.
Union Elections – Notices for elections were sent out on October 24th, 2015 and the Nominations Meeting was held on November 10th, 2015. Ballots were mailed to the last known address of all members in good standing on November 23rd, and ballots are due back by December 15th at 10:30am at which time they will be counted. Results will be announced at the Union Meeting on December 15th at 1:30pm (Central Arizona: Phoenix Burton Barr Library; Southern Arizona: Fraternal Order of Police). Anyone who did not receive a ballot needs to e-mail email@example.com for assistance as soon as possible to ensure enough time for mailing and return of the ballot.
Policy Changes & Updates – During December’s Labor Management Committee, several changes were made to the shift bid policy and shift lateral policy which functionally eliminate the “lock in” period after being awarded a bid and also reduces the waiting period for a shift-lateral. These changes were made to allow members to move to areas in which they are happiest and most successful rather than being stuck in a shift that is less that desirable. The policies are currently having their final edits and will be posted to all employees in the very near future. The Union has also worked with the General Manager’s
Tucson Rural Metro Ambulance – The Union informally learned that by the end of 2016, Rural Metro Fire will be replacing Local I-60 members at Station 79 and Station 81 — further separating EMS and Fire operations in Southern Arizona. As this information is relatively new (within the last 2 – 3 weeks) there is not a lot of information to share other than that the change won’t occur for the next twelve months and that management has assured the Local I-60 that
Contract Negotiations – AMR’s Vice President of Labor Relations (based out of Colorado) will be heading up negotiations for management, and we are waiting for their schedule availability to resume contract talks in January. Hopefully AMR values their employees more than SWA and R/M and we can get a contract sooner than later.
Weingarten Rights & Representation – Please remember that as Union employees, you have federal protections known as Weingarten Rights. These rights allow you to have a union representative to support and assist you through any investigatory or disciplinary meeting with management. Both the Local I-60 and management partnered to have a standardized form which each supervisor should be providing you with prior to any investigatory or disciplinary discussion. The form is meant to remind both you and your manager that Union representation is available if you so choose. Once you elect to have Union representation, the discussion should promptly stop. There should be no more conversations about the issue(s), and you should not write a Field Incident Report (FIR) until you speak with a union representative who will turn in the FIR on your behalf. The Local I-60 has a switchboard number to call if you ever need help. That number is 602-388-6800 and is the same number found on the Local I-60’s website and other materials.
All you need to state to your manager is: “if this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”