Mono County Administration and Mono County Paramedics earlier reached an impasse in labor negotiations, but the Paramedics have decided not to pursue a major dispute. Instead, they will abide by current County guidelines, meet in a workshop with the Board of Supervisors to explain issues and start new negotiations. Last year, they made concessions in overtime, health care, and longevity pay but ran up against major problems with the County Administrator’s job description. They also face Supervisors’ desires to cut back costs for Paramedic services.
President of the Paramedics Association, Rick Mitchell, spoke to the Mono Supervisors for half an hour last week. The County had presented their Last, Best and Final offer which Paramedics voted against. Mitchell said he thought the Board and its new members deserved an explanation. Mitchell told Sierra Wave Media that former CAO Jim Arkens had presented something “substantially different” from what Paramedics expected. It was a proposal, Mitchell said, “generated by the CAO as he went out the door.”
That proposal included a new job description which prohibits Paramedics from entering and rescuing people from burning buildings. They have, for many years, had the discretion to do these rescues as they assist the Fire Department. Mitchell said Paramedics would like to re-write the job description presented by the CAO. He said Paramedics will ask to go back to the table and negotiate a new deal by July 1 when the Supervisors approve the budget. Mitchell said he understands the Supervisors concerns about cutting costs.
Other issues that trouble the Paramedics include loss of progressive discipline. Mitchell said they can’t make mistakes and correct them. He said, “If you’re not in good standing, you’re gone.” Mitchell said the County also has the right to move Paramedics to any of the four stations spread out around Mono County without cause, and Mitchell said the County took away the right for Paramedics to bid, through seniority, for jobs that open up at Paramedic stations.
Now, Mitchell said, Paramedics want to work on a new job description and hold open workshops with the Board to talk about programs for the future. Mitchell said the County spent $80,000 on a consultant to come up with an Emergency Medical Services plan and never included Paramedics in the discussions.
Mitchell said the Paramedics want to give the newer Board of Supervisor members the “benefit of the doubt.” Instead of a prolonged fight, Paramedics want to start new negotiations. Asked if he thinks the new Board offers a new atmosphere for talks, Mitchell said, “Hopefully, yes.”