Fremont County ambulance union shows collective bargaining can help stabilize EMS systems, labor advocate says

    Wyoming AFL-CIO executive director Tammy Johnson used Fremont County as an example this month to show how collective bargaining agreements could help stabilize the Emergency Medical Services system in the state.

    She was addressing the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, which was discussing the topics it might want to tackle during the interim before next year’s legislative session.

    When they began to talk about the state’s EMS system, Johnson approached the committee to tell them about her work with EMS employees in Fremont County who reached out to her for assistance dealing with staff shortages last year.


    “They said, ‘We need some help, we are desperate – our ranks fare falling apart, we’re losing people, (and) we don’t have a solid EMS service,” she recalled. “So we went in and helped them and worked with the county and they formed a union and they negotiated a contract and they are now almost fully staffed.”

    Before they unionized, Johnson explained, EMS employees in Fremont County “were getting paid less than fast food workers in Lander.”

    “Now they’re getting a good wage, they have good benefits, they’re getting training … they got uniforms, they have a professional organization, (and) they’re seen as professionals when they show up on calls,” she said. “The issues that they were struggling with before have disappeared because they worked with their employer to get those resolved, and they were able to do that because they were allowed to come to the table and talk.”

    She added that she wasn’t advocating “that we give unions to every EMS service” in the state, but she did ask the committee to “think about” the ways higher wages help recruit and retain employees – especially EMS employees, who perform “very difficult and very challenging work.”

    “If it pays $12 per hour, you’re not getting EMS workers there,” Johnson said. “That’s a very serious issue we have in the state, that we’re not taking care of the EMS workers that we have. I think that we would be able to grow those ranks if we took better care of them and if we figured out how to fund it and how to make sure that they’re well paid.


    “That’s why they’re not at work. Because they’re not paid enough to do the work.”

    She proposed the committee consider drafting legislation to let public health care workers have collective bargaining agreements in Wyoming, “just like we do for firefighters.”

    “Then you would see more people come to the table and get trained to be EMS workers, and we may begin to solve some of the EMS issues we have in the state,” she said.


    Wyoming Statute 27-10-102 says “the fire fighters in any city, town or county shall have the right to bargain collectively with their respective cities, towns or counties and to be represented by a bargaining agent in such collective bargaining as to wages, rates of pay, working conditions and all other terms and conditions of employment.”


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?