EMS workers unhappy with proposed 12-to-12 shift change

Problems with EMS workers resurfaced again over the weekend when ambulance units had to be shut down because the department was understaffed.

A proposed solution would change the work schedule to 12-hour shifts, but KHON2 also found out that the workers are not happy about it — mainly because of when the shift starts and ends.

KHON2 spoke with a worker who wanted to remain anonymous. He was told that proposed shift would be noon to midnight and midnight to noon.

Workers say it just doesn’t make any sense.

EMS workers KHON2 spoke with say they would love to switch to 12-hour shifts, because it would cut down on having to work back-to-back eight-hour shifts. They say it happens three to four times a week because EMS is so understaffed.

But many have families or are single parents, so they say working 12-to-12 would be extremely difficult.

“With those shifts, you’re either starting at midnight or getting off at midnight, which means you’re dropping your children off to someone at midnight or picking them up at midnight, so it’s very difficult for families,” said the worker.

The proposal also includes taking away seniority when it comes to picking your ambulance unit and letting supervisors pick first, “so someone with 20-year seniority is going to let a supervisor with eight-year seniority have the first choice over him,” the worker said.

The proposals were put together by a committee and KHON2 was told a majority of them are supervisors.

Workers have gone to their union, United Public Workers, to complain but say they’ve been ignored.

KHON2 has been trying to get a hold of UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua all week. His secretary says he’s been out of town, but he has been getting our messages.

So far we haven’t heard back from him.

City officials say there is a tentative agreement with the union to implement those 12-hour shifts and workers say it would help with the understaffing problems, but they say the deal has been on hold for years.

Hope Lewis worked at EMS for four years and got tired of waiting for the new schedule to happen. She quit two months ago.

“Every time it was brought to the table, it was tabled. It was put on the back burner,” she said. “‘We’re going to put it on the back burner. We’re not gonna talk about this right now.’ Months and months months turned into years. I would never see my family. I would come to work and be stuck on a 16-hour shift.”

The city says the 12-to-12 schedule is a pilot program so adjustments can be made if it’s not working, but UPW still has to get together with the city to implement it.

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