Yes on California Proposition 11

Proposition 11 would allow ambulance companies to continue to require EMTs to remain on-call on breaks. It follows failed negotiations in the Legislature, given ambiguity-creating court decisions regarding breaks for security workers, and comes as EMTs are suing their employers over this.

If Prop 11 fails and ambulance companies lose the lawsuits, they could be prohibited from interrupting breaks. Taxpayers would then pick up the tab:

The US Department of Health mandates that ambulance service reach 75% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes. To match their current coverage and response times, ambulance companies would have to hire significantly more EMTs. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that these increased costs — about $100M — would likely fall to local governments.

Ambulance providers could also skimp on coverage when they’re already within Department of Health guidelines, putting at risk people with medical emergencies.

Given the extent to which Prop 13 limits cities’ ability to raise revenue, the $100 million per year in extra expenses to local governments will more likely come at the cost of services. Many of these services benefit low-income residents, so the practical impact of Prop 11’s failure and a court decision against AMR could be less funding for important services.

Ideally this matter would be legislated, but the past failure to reach agreement suggests that subsequent negotiations are unlikely to materialize. As the San Francisco Chronicle wrote:

The union representing 4,000 ambulance workers…supported AB263, which spelled out that employees could be required to monitor pagers, radios, station and alert boxes, intercoms, cell phones and other communications devices during their breaks — and could be required to answer an emergency call. That bill cleared the Assembly on a 56–17 vote on June 1, 2017.

However, that bill stalled in the state Senate over two key issues: One was whether the interruptions could include less serious calls; the other was whether the legislation should effectively void pending labor-related lawsuits against American Medical Response.

Voters should vote yes on Prop 11 to avoid significant new costs to local governments.

Economist. Founder and president of the UBI Center. Studied at MIT and UC Berkeley. YIMBY. Former Google data scientist.

Economist. Founder and president of the UBI Center. Studied at MIT and UC Berkeley. YIMBY. Former Google data scientist.