City announces new contract, 12-hour shifts for EMS workers

The city is hoping to solve staffing issues within the Emergency Medical Services department.

Back in April, KHON2 was the first to tell you when EMS had to pull four of its ambulances off the road because there weren’t enough workers.

This brought to light the bigger issue: that EMS had been suffering from a staffing shortage and paramedics and EMTs were often forced to work 16-hour shifts to cover the gaps.

But that could soon change.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell believes the city and the employees’ union have found the solution to the EMS staffing issues with a new contract which allows for a 12-hour per day schedule.

“We want to make sure that our paramedics and EMT folks are rested and ready to go to work that they’re happy in their jobs that they’re not stressed because their schedule is beyond control,” he said.

The pilot program would change the work schedule to 12-hour shifts, either noon to midnight or midnight to noon.

“It is a pilot. Some people may not like the timing (of the) 12 hours, 12 to 12, and they’ll be open to make adjustments,” Caldwell said.

The UPW says it will meet with the city quarterly or sooner if necessary to make revisions.

But not everyone is pleased. UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua acknowledged his office received a petition from workers speaking out against the 12-to-12 shift.

“We dealt with that and with meetings that we scheduled for the membership throughout all of last week those concerns were addressed,” he said.

The new contract includes financial incentives totaling about 20 percent, with hopes of retaining workers and filling the department’s 35 vacancies.

“Costs are included in meal incentives, night-time differential and built-in overtime,” said Emergency Medical Services director Mark Rigg.

The one-year pilot program will start on August 31.

Shifts will be determined through a bid process based on job classification and seniority.

The city hopes to save $1.5 million in overtime costs with the new deal.

“One of the goals of the 12-hour schedule was to ensure that they go home, provide them with a better lifestyle,” Rigg said. “They will be working less days a month. They will be getting more pay, which they do deserve.”

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