Press Release – Aug. 22, 2013
Khanh Weinberg (408) 921-0098
Jerry Jimenez (408) 219-9636
County orders mandatory overtime for 911 dispatchers
Workers ready to strike to protect public safety and community health care
San Jose, Calif. – Even as Santa Clara County officials dismiss concerns that the county struggles with recruitment and retention problems, county emergency dispatchers have been ordered to work overtime because of “staffing shortage.”
At a press conference today at Noon at 70 W. Hedding Street, Service Employees International Union, Local 521, which represents 60 dispatchers and a total of 9,000 county workers, will release the July 13 county notice which stated: “County Communications is currently experiencing a staffing shortage that, in our estimation, constitutes an emergency situation.”
Investing in a cutting-edge workforce has been at the crux of Local 521 members’ contract proposals with the county since negotiations began in April.
Dispatchers have already logged more than 2,030 hours of forced overtime this month.
“Emergency dispatchers are trained to give childbirth and CPR instructions over the phone. They dispatch fire engines, ambulances, and sheriff’s deputies,” said Ryan Noble, a senior communications dispatcher. “When people dial 9-1-1, it is most likely the worst day of their life, and they are asking for help. Should that help come from a tired, overworked and burned out dispatcher? Or do they deserve the best service the county can provide?”
Meanwhile, as health care reform becomes real on Jan. 1, 2014, Santa Clara County’s investment in health care frontline services is not much better.
More than 100,000 county residents will be eligible to buy lower-cost health insurance though Covered California, an online insurance exchange created to carry out the Affordable Care Act in California. This means the county’s Health and Hospital System will soon be competing for consumers who can choose to go to Stanford or Kaiser.
To succeed, the county must address the mounting problems related to recruiting and retaining a cutting-edge workforce to deliver the actual care.
- The county’s retention rate for physical therapists is only 22%, lower than all other Bay Area hospitals. In three years, there have been 15 vacancies out of 42 full-time equivalent jobs.
- The retention rate of pharmacists is 54%. Over the last two years, 15 pharmacists have left for higher-paying jobs elsewhere.
Also at press conference will be Dr. Russel Kosik, a Radiology Resident at Valley Medical Center. Dr. Kosik will be address the need to recruit highly qualified physicians-in-training, especially during the expansion of heath care access, to ensure the highest quality patient care.
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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org