Last week I blogged about the press conference held by California Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez to announce the Emergency Medical Service Worker Bill of Rights. On Tuesday the bill text for AB-263 was ammended revealing the specifics of the proposed bill.
Despite low wages being the first topic addressed during the press conference and the leading topic in the UC Labor Center report titled Emergency Medical Services in California: Wages, Working Conditions, and Industry Profile any mention of it was omitted from the EMS Worker Bill of Rights. Under Policy Goals (page 22) of the report Wage Raise is listed as the first action item, making it’s absence in the proposed legislation even more concerning.
The two topics that AB-263 looks to address is ensuring an uninterrupted rest period of 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked as well as additional training, reporting, and post-incident treatment options for violent encounters. While both of these issues are important for their own reasons, it is terribly disappointing that something so boldly titled “EMS Workers Bill of Rights” has as much strength to affect change in the quality of life for California EMS providers as a bowl of overcooked macaroni. Getting an uninterrupted meal break seems to be a slap in the face when you can’t afford a decent meal that doesn’t have to originate from the Dollar Menu at the local fast food chain where the employees are poised to earn more than you do WITHOUT a “Fast Food Worker Bill of Rights” to help them.
I’m sure there will be those that say wages are tied to reimbursement and that is a complicated issue. The truth is that the only reason it gets complicated is because we make it complex. Granting EMTs and Paramedics the legal protection to earn a livable wage is only complicated because we allow it to be. San Diego was able to do it, so why not the rest of California? Why not the rest of the United States?
Feel free to offer the excuses to those questions in the comments… because really, at this point, that’s all they are… excuses for not doing what is right for those who do the right thing by everyone else…