California First Responders Say “No on Prop 11”

Prop 11 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While purporting to be about protecting public safety, it actually strips first responders of their right to meal and rest breaks, which makes their jobs more grueling and makes us all less safe. Thousands of California’s first responders are in jeopardy of losing their right to meal and rest breaks, worsening already difficult working conditions and potentially risking public safety.

What is Prop 11? A proposition on the November ballot that would change California’s labor code, which currently guarantees workers at private ambulance companies time to eat and rest.

Who supports Prop 11? The measure is funded by American Medical Response (AMR), one of California’s largest private ambulance companies. AMR spent $1 million to get the signatures required to get Prop 11 on the ballot and has since spent some $3.65 million to sway voters. If Prop 11 passes, the measure rids AMR of the obligation to pay on millions of dollars’ worth of pending and future lawsuits for meal and rest break violations.

Who opposes Prop 11? The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents some of the affected first responders, and labor unions across the state including the California Labor Federation.

What they’re saying: “Follow the money. Look who donated and why,” said USW Local 12-911 President Lee Almeida, whose local includes some 1,400 first responders. “You’ll find AMR is behind this, and there’s a reason for it.” Much of the language surrounding Prop 11 focuses on public safety, but it is misleading. A lot of the things they’re saying are like ‘we want to take our meals before saving lives. That’s not true.  Saving lives come first.”

Why this is important: First responders work pressure-filled, grueling schedules and often deal in matters of life or death. Stripping them of guaranteed rest and meal breaks does nothing to improve public safety. In fact, it makes their jobs even more difficult. The measure also sets a terrible precedent that could be used to take away meal and rest breaks from other workers.

Taking breaks away from those we entrust with the lives of our families is never the answer. Protect our first responders. Vote NO on Prop 11!