Earlier this week the Local I-60 received a letter from American Medical Response calling for a reduction in force, commonly known as a layoff, effective December 1st, 2017. AMR proposes to layoff 9 EMTs and 3 Paramedics during a time when call volumes typically increase due to winter visitors, flu season, and other factors. The underlying motivation for their reduction in force is their desire to reduce coverage in the west valley area by eliminating three ambulances from the west valley deployment plan. While the AMR notice did not include specific units, it is believed to be AP303, A133, and AP706, which affect Surprise, Sun City, and Glendale respectively.
While the AMR notice states that they “hope that [they] will be able to secure alternative employment assignments, in the event that is not possible, the reduction in force will become effective on December 1, 2017,” the Local I-60 does not anticipate any actual layoffs occurring, as we are currently understaffed and any such reduction in force would simply decrease the number of open positions for job applicants. In addition, layoffs are done by order of seniority and not specific to any particular unit, station, or city.
To understand why AMR is threatening layoffs, it is important to understand a recent settlement agreement between the IAFF Local I-60 Union and American Medical Response that was signed on October 3rd, 2017. The settlement agreement was the result of AMR’s unilateral changes to Surprise and Sun-City in December of 2016 and February of 2017, from which the National Labor Relations Board issued a federal complaint against AMR for nine (9) allegations of unfair labor practices. Ultimately, the Union was able to get AMR to admit guilt on all 9 charges and sign a Formal Board Settlement Agreement. In the settlement, AMR agreed, among other things, to limit changes/modifications to deployment plans to no more than twice per year — a tremendous victory for our members. Three weeks later, AMR proposed to modify the west valley deployment plan by eliminating AP706 from Glendale and reducing A133 and AP303 to 12-hour units rather than 24-hour units.
On October 24th, Vice President PJ Elias and I met with management where they pitched their idea to reduce hours in the west valley. During that meeting, we provided them with copies of the Formal Settlement Agreement which prevents any new modifications to deployment plans, as there had already been two modifications this year. Needless to say, the meeting was brief, and a follow-up meeting was scheduled for October 27th with the AMR Regional Directors to further address the issue. Unfortunately, the Regional Directors pretended to interpret their proposed actions, not as deployment plan changes, but rather just changes to three trucks. Their proposed changes are clearly changes to the deployment plan, and AMR was made aware that any violation of our settlement agreement would be met with a petition for injunction with the Ninth Circuit Court — to which the company cannot contest as they waived their right in the settlement agreement.
In what seems to be the norm for AMR, they simply have no regard for contractual requirements or settlement agreements, nor for their employee’s sense of job security and stability. Rather than complying with the settlement agreement signed in front of a federal judge, they are simply trying any unethical way to accomplish their goals of reducing coverage in the west valley.
The Local I-60 is addressing this issue on many fronts, and thus far the company’s only response came from AMR’s Vice President of Labor Relations, which was nothing more than a reply-all with “It seems Kevin is upset”. While management and senior leadership at AMR may think that this is a laughing matter, it most certainly is not. It impacts our careers, our families, and the citizens we serve by providing emergency services every day.