Unionized Gold Cross Ambulance employees may strike by weekend

ST. GEORGE – Unionized ambulance medics could strike this Saturday after negotiations with Gold Cross Ambulance stalled last week. While the union accuses the company of purposefully derailing negotiations, it is also considering its options. Meanwhile, Gold Cross officials assure the City of St. George that ambulance service will continue undisturbed regardless of a potential strike.

Gold Cross Ambulance employees in St. George joined the Utah Teamsters Union last year and entered into negotiations with Salt Lake City-based Gold Cross Ambulance on a number of issues. Employees have claimed they are underpaid, overworked and deal with poor working conditions.

Though talks originally stalled at the end of May, Spencer Hogue, a representative of Teamsters Local 222 out of Salt Lake City, said it appeared issues were being resolved when negotiations began again in July.

However, negotiations stalled once again over the lingering issue of employees wanting their checks to be direct deposited to a union credit union and wanting money to be withheld from their paychecks to pay union dues. Gold Cross has said “no” each time these matters have been brought to the table, company president Mike Moffitt said.

It’s too bad that it all came down to the fact we won’t collect union dues out of employee paychecks,” Moffitt said. “That was the sole item in the negotiation session on the 17th of July. It came up on the table about 6 p.m. and we told them no – just like we’ve told them every time for almost a year. They knew clearly our position on it.”

Both Moffitt and Hogue said the negotiations looked like they were on the verge of wrapping up when the dues issue brought everything to a halt.

“It’s easy for them to hold onto this issue to the very end because it demonizes the union – saying, ‘All the union wants is your money,’” Hogue said. “They say that to their employees, when the reality is it’s their best talking point – that we’re hung up on dues. We’re not hung up on dues.”

Hogue said Tuesday that he is preparing a counterproposal to send to Gold Cross, yet he expects the company to refuse it.

“I think they have one concern left, and they will say ‘no’ to it because they have no intention of coming to an agreement,” Hogue said.

The unionized Gold Cross employees will meet on Saturday to determine their next course of action. They will take a vote by 2 p.m., with whatever they decide going into effect at 3 p.m.

Options before the employees include picketing after hours, handing out handbills outlining their position, or striking – which is viewed as a last resort.

“A strike is our last option,” Hogue said. “It’s not fun for us. It’s not what we like to do. It’s our last resort. It’s when we cannot get our difference resolved.”

If a strike does occur, Moffitt said, ambulance service will continue regardless.

I believe they will do what they say, and we’ll be prepared for it,” Moffitt said. “There will be no drop in service.”

Gold Cross will bring extra personnel into the service area to cover for striking employees. The company also has mutual aid agreements with neighboring emergency medical service agencies, such as Ivins Ambulance and the Hurricane Valley Fire District, to help provide cover in the case of a mass-casualty situation.

Whatever Gold Cross chooses to do to keep service rolling, the City of St. George fully expects the EMS provider to continue to meet city requirements governing ambulance service.

St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said that Moffitt has “assured the city everything will be taken care of.”

Still, Stoker added, “We’re hoping everything gets resolved this week so there’s not a problem.”

Gold Cross Ambulance is the largest private ambulance company in Utah. It took over ambulance service in the St. George area and part of Washington City in mid-2013 following a two-year fight with then provider Dixie Ambulance Service over exclusive rights to the area. The state ultimately ruled in Gold Cross Ambulance’s favor, allowing it to take over rights to the area.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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23 Comments

  • DRT July 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I hope that the powers that be in St. George, are giving their decision to bring in Gold Cross, serious reflection. I also hope the powers that be in Iron County are looking down here and doing the same.
    I’m not backing either Gold Cross, or the union on this situation. But it is going to be interesting to see if Gold Cross can even get people to come in as “scab labor.”
    I do hope that voters both here and in Iron County will remember come election time, how their politicians sold them out.
    And I sincerely hope that voters will remember Senator Urquhart in 2016, if he runs again.

    • ru1096 July 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Not sure how they expect to get any “scab labor”. There are only 24 hours in a day! Someone should probably remind these jackals that although emts and paramedics love their jobs, they do have lives, families, and occasionally need sleep!

  • munchie July 22, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Employees are underpaid, overworked, and deal with poor working conditions. In Utah? Good for them for organizing and joining a Union. Hope they prevail

  • Free Parking July 23, 2015 at 12:00 am

    I hope they do go on strike who wants to keep working for the pathetic UT welfare wages

  • 42214 July 23, 2015 at 12:17 am

    I’m not a fan of unions but I’ve never seen an area that seems to take pride in low wages. Across the board, cops, fire, teachers, waitresses, woefully underpaid compared to other states. If a $15 minimum wage came here St. George would shut down. Hope they avert a strike.

    • fun bag July 23, 2015 at 1:08 am

      son, if u aint good enough for 8 bucks and hour we don’t need ur kind ’round these parts…

      • 42214 July 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm

        Gosh dang (spit drool) let them eat cake. 8 bucks is good nuff fer me cause I gots a GED.

    • Simone July 23, 2015 at 8:31 am

      We ain’t be need pay them Obummer lovin govment employees who want to teach my kids that there ain’t no god an such and kick me an mine outta my home just cause I ain’t paid theys govment imposed $100. And them waiters, they be makin enuff on them tips we liberty lovers throw em. Why jus last year me’n my 3 sister wives and 10 chilling ate at one of them Denny’s here and the waitress was gooOOODD! So I tipped her one WHOLE dollar.

  • The Dude July 23, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Lovely southern Utah, California cost of living with with Olahoma wages. With our aged population these folks are overwhelmed. I know many CNAs and home care workers that also need to unionize.

    • CaliGirl July 23, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Here, here! I second that notion. This should include ALL healthcare workers. Hospital, doctors office, labs, blood & plasma collection… If everyone unites, we can up the wages across the board. Waiters/waitresses, cooks, dishwashers… The list is long!

  • Free Parking July 23, 2015 at 5:50 am

    No it’s.. round these here parts.. ain’t it.?

  • Harold S. July 23, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Wow, Dixie Ambulance employees never threatened to strike. They had a higher standard than that. Too bad the City of St. George ran them out of business. Let them go on strike and get out of here. They did a transport on a relative of mine who lived six blocks from the hospital and the bill was over $1,000.00 for the six block ride. Never again,

    • CaliGirl July 23, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Next time, take a cab. I’m mean it’s only 6-blocks, right? Or better yet, piggy back!

    • fun bag July 23, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      should of taked a cab. But u did get a good discount since the price is usually $100 for every foot the ambulance takes u…

    • ryjen74 July 28, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      It is all of Dixie Ambulance past employees that were treating to go on strike. As for poor working conditions. I hardly think that posting in your truck for 12 hrs. is considered poor working conditions. How horrible and unfair. Maybe Police Officer and delivery drives should go on strike, since they are also stationed in their vehicles for 12 hours. All of Dixie Ambulance took the job working for GC and agreed to the working conditions. Why don’t they go work for the hospital or fire department. Take their poor me attitude somewhere else.

  • htown July 23, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Harold, maybe that was Gold Cross’s plan all along, monopolize then put your plan into action. I wonder if St G City will now step in and agree to subsidize.

  • ru1096 July 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    This is sad for individuals that do so much for their community. Looks like the Gold Cross honeymoon phase is officially over for St. George. Privatized ambulance service is not good for the workers or the citizens. Eventually the company will want/need to make a profit and that means either a cut in pay for its employees, or a reduction in services for the citizens. Money shouldn’t be the bottom line when a life is at stake. I believe in privatization, but never for emergency services. We don’t handle police or fire this way. Why is EMS different?

    • fun bag July 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Becuz them good-ol’-boys want to get rich…? If ur not happy about it write to the mayor. I’m sure he cares.

    • 42214 July 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      You are so right. EMS should be part of the fire dept and the ambulance does nothing but transport.

  • Brian July 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    These guys do great work, and I empathize on the wages, but unions suck. If they strike, fire 100% of them and hire non-union labor. If they unionize, do it again. I fully support them if they stand as a local group and do collective bargaining on their own. But I can’t stand behind them when they join an outside mafia that really only looks out for it’s own interests.

    • fun bag July 23, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      I’m sure ur hard-right radio has been droning on and on about the evils of labor unions and you believe every word…

  • 42214 July 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Yes, the protect lousy, sub-standard employees from getting fired. I can see why you would like them.

    • ryjen74 July 28, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      I would love to see them fired.

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