Owner file

Grady EMS workers file unfair labor charges; hospital disputes complaints

However, hospital administrators said in a statement that all employee concerns can be addressed internally in a “collaborative work environment” that is “without fear of reprisal”.

In addition, Grady Hospital officials dismissed the complaints as vague outside accusations, allegations that are inconsistent with the history of management-worker relations.

“IAEP does not represent Grady EMS employees,” the statement said. “Furthermore, the complaints filed are broad, with no specific details provided. Grady has always prioritized the fair treatment of our employees.

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For more than a month, a group of workers have been trying to organize a union for the approximately 180 employees of Grady Emergency Medical Services, which provides ambulance and other services to the city of Atlanta and many surrounding counties.

The group includes paramedics, emergency medical technicians, nurses and others.

Grady, one of the area’s best-known institutions, has been the town’s ambulance provider for more than a century. But he has recently come under fire for his slow response times to 911 calls. Some workers blame the issues on inadequate staffing and say the treatment of employees is a key reason Grady struggles to retain its staff.

Grady’s administrators deny this and say the staffing issues started with the pandemic.

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Organizing workers say they have failed to voice their concerns. They cite concerns about equipment, pay scales and how shifts are often done in ways that disrupt workers’ families.

Federal law requires organizers to collect signatures from 30% of unit members to force a vote on a union. Organizers say they would like to collect a lot more than that before submitting signatures, but they refuse to say where they stand.

If they submit enough names and the NLRB orders an election, the approval of 70% of workers would be required for the formation of a union. If the organizers cross this threshold, management can still take months to negotiate a contract.

Apart from complaints filed last week, workers and union officials also say a new dispatch system installed by Grady has proven unreliable and unsafe. Paramedics told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the system restricts their ability to call for more help when their own safety is threatened. They can still call, but their location is not automatically transmitted to dispatchers.

Some patients have psychological or drug problems and become violent, a paramedic said. “Most of the time, problems arise on the way to the hospital. People attack you or try to jump out of the ambulance.

Also, with the old system, when they were called to a site to provide support, they could check to see if their dispatchers had noted any other issues at the same address. This meant that they usually knew before arriving on the scene if there was a fire or an active shooter. Using the new system, workers reported not seeing this additional information.

Grady officials acknowledged the system is new but disputed the workers’ descriptions.

“All protocols remain the same and crews still have visibility (of) who is on-site per type of call,” the statement read. “We believe the source of these unsubstantiated claims is a union that does not represent Grady employees.”

Grady added a paramedic and a nurse to the dispatch center to improve responses, the statement said. “The safety of our first responders is of the utmost importance.”